A period of history I don't really know much about, but the name Simon de Monfort is one I'm familliar with. Took a while to work out that the Simon in the book is the father of the Simon de Montfort, sixth earl of Leicester. If you know Leicester at all, it's the son that the university and concert hall are named after and who's statue is on the clock tower in gallowtree gate.
As to the book, it reminded me of books written by Sir Walter Scott, lots of characters with various adventures. Damsels in distress, knights in shining armour and wicked religious characters.