He was born in France, the son of Simon de Montfort, leader of the Albigensian Crusade. After his father's death, he received the claim to the earldom of Leicester, inherited from his grandmother. He went to England in 1229, and two years later his earldom was recognized by Henry III. He became one of the king's advisers and in 1238 married Eleanor, Henry's sister. In 1240, Simon distinguished himself on crusade in Palestine under Richard, earl of Cornwall.
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