Simon De Montfort on Haymarket Clock towerSoon after results day people start asking ‘so what are you planning to do now?’ and my answer was ‘I’m going to De Montfort University’. It didn’t take me long before I realised that people didn’t know about DMU; soon I was saying, ‘De Montfort University, it’s in Leicester.’ But that lead on to ‘why is it called De Montfort?’ and all I could say, rather embarrassingly was, ‘I don’t actually know’.  So for all freshers starting this year, here is a quick rundown of why DMU is so named.

DMU is named after Simon De Montfort (6th), Earl of Leicester. He was originally a Frenchman but came to England in 1229 when he made a swap with his older brother, Amaury – Simon could claim Leicester as his own if he gave up his claim to his land in France, and gave it to Amaury.

From there he had what can be simplified down to a series of squabbles with King Henry 3rd, mainly financial. During one of these disputes, civil war broke out and at the Battle of Lewes 1264, De Montfort captured the King and some of his supporters. This is when De Montfort began to make his mark on British politics.

Simon De Montfort is renowned for playing a key role in establishing the first recognisable Parliament. His Great Parliament of 1265 – also known as De Montfort’s Parliament – consisted of two representatives from each county. Though this system had been used once before, De Montfort developed it by having ordinary people included in the council who he insisted should be elected to be there rather than appointed. This council is acknowledged by scholars as the first gathering in England that can be recognised as a ‘Parliament’.

Further disputes lead to the battle of Evesham, where De Montfort was killed by the King Henry 3rd’s son, Edward. Though he died and his remains buried in Evesham, De Montfort’s connections to Leicester remain strong with various places being named after him and his statue being one of the four than make up the Haymarket Clock Tower. There are many more political details that explain Simon De Montfort’s historical significance, all of which are easily found on various websites – but at least now you can confidently say ‘yes I do know why it is called DMU’ when someone next asks.