Shedding new light on Pevensey Castle

A new book from Pen & Sword – Peter of Savoy: The Little Charlemagne by John Marshall – will shed new light on Pevensey Castle.
Pevensey Castle by Peter CrippsPevensey Castle by Peter Cripps
Pevensey Castle by Peter Cripps

Peter owned Pevensey Castle in Sussex.

His book is an attempt to discover the real Peter of Savoy, one of Henry III’s closest advisors and under whose rule Pevensey Castle endured the longest English siege to date.

Why does his stylised statue sit outside the Savoy Hotel in London? John Marshall can tell you…

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John is the author of Welsh Castle Builders, and his expertise is the Savoyards in England, says spokeswoman Lucy May.

“Why does much of Switzerland speak French to this day? Why do we find elements of the Magna Carta in the Statutes of Savoy? Where did the story that ended with the great Edwardian castles of north Wales begin? How was it that hundreds of men from Savoy built castles in north Wales? Whose castle of Pevensey endured successfully the longest English siege? Why do we find elements of the Magna Carta in the Statutes of Savoy?

"Who was one of the greatest figures of the 13th century? Peter of Savoy, known to chroniclers of his homeland as The Little Charlemagne.

“Peter of Savoy came to England as the uncle of Queen Alianor de Provence, the consort of King Henry III. He quickly found favour as one of Henry’s closest advisers and noblemen. Peter was in effect Queen Alianor’s right-hand man in England, her protector, and subsequently the protector of Lord Edward, the future King Edward I. He played a key role in Henry’s military and diplomatic efforts to recover his ancestral lands in France which culminated in the 1259 Treaty of Paris. This rapprochement between the Capetians and Plantagenets might have warded off the Hundred Years War, but it was not to be.

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“Nonetheless, the 19th-century monks of Savoy thought it his greatest accomplishment. Peter played a key role in the Second Baronial War which engulfed Henry’s reign, at first siding with Simon de Montfort but then changing sides as the reform movement veered toward xenophobia. Returning to Savoy he laid the foundations for the County of Savoy to become a powerful Duchy which in turn almost became a country before it was dismembered by Switzerland, Italy and France. His historical reputation suffered at the hands of English chroniclers keen to eulogise the Montfortian regime. This work is an attempt to discover the real Peter of Savoy.”

Having moved to Switzerland and qualified as a historian (Masters, Northumbria University, 2016), John Marshall came across the story of the Savoyards in England and began his research. He founded an association to develop Anglo-Swiss relations regarding the story, in liaison with Cadw, Château de Grandson, Yverdon and others.

Published by Pen & Sword.

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