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. . . is the feast day of Saint Melor, a pious Celtic nobleman and martyr. When Melor's father, a duke, was murdered in a coup by his uncle, the uncle pre-empted any challenge from the boy by chopping off his right hand and left foot. These were replaced with a silver hand and a brass foot, which miraculously grew and functioned as if they were flesh and bone. The uncle, alarmed, had Melor's head struck off but even then the miracles did not cease, and from beyond the grave Melor brought about the death of his killers. His story was popular in the early Middle Ages, but the details are sketchy: neither his dates nor his homeland (Cornwall or Brittany) nor his proper name (Melor, Mylar, Melorus) are known.

. . . in 1207, Henry III of England (above) was born. He reigned for 56 years from 1216 and by general consent made a dreadful job of it. He had the excuse that when he succeeded his father, King John, he was only nine and the country was already in a mess. Yet when he was old enough to rule in his own right he only made things worse. At home, he antagonised the barons by choosing Frenchmen as favourites, while he was so hopeless at foreign policy he was tricked into bankruptcy by the Pope. This setback forced him to concede some power to the barons in 1258, but he soon welshed on the deal and civil war followed, with Simon de Montfort leading the barons. Peace returned after de Montfort's death at Evesham in 1265, but Henry was now senile and his son, the future Edward I, took charge. Henry died in 1272 and his principal monument is Westminster Abbey.

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