The story of the Battle of Lewes – with the catchy subtitle ‘Showdown at the Windmill’ – has been rendered into cartoon-strip form by High Street toy-maker Peter Cole and his mother Annabel. Peter, who is colourblind, originally drew the strip in black and white; his mother suggested they would look better coloured in, and landed herself with the task.
The subtitle refers to the story that, during the battle, Henry III’s brother, Richard, had to take refuge in a windmill after his forces were routed by Simon de Montfort’s men. Richard – who gave himself the title ‘King of the Romans, Always August’ – is portrayed as a vainglorious idiot, only saved from death by his opponents’ realisation of his value as a hostage. The narrative unfolds through the eyes of a vassal to the Earl of Gloucester who fought for the rebels, John Bevis, who returns home with a wounded comrade and tells the story of the battle.
Peter clearly did a good deal of research, and has told the story with great imagination and no little humour – particularly when the narrator’s helmet (already severely limiting his vision) is knocked 180 degrees, turning his world black in the middle of the battle. The book costs £3.50 and will surely become something of a collector’s item.