Southern Anthology

Families on the Frontiers of the Old South

Roger V de Mortimer, 1st Earl of March

Roger V de Mortimer, 1st Earl of March[1, 2, 3]

Male 1287 - 1330  (43 years)

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  • Name Roger V de Mortimer 
    Arms of Mortimer
    Arms of Mortimer
    Suffix 1st Earl of March 
    Born 25 Apr 1287  Wigmore Castle, Wigmore, Herefordshire Find all individuals with events at this location  [4
    13th Century Wales and the Marches
    13th Century Wales and the Marches
    Gender Male 
    Guardianship 1304  [5
    Piers Gaveston was appointed Mortimer's guardian. Mortimer purchased the right to enjoy his estates before his majority for 2500 marks.  
    Title 22 May 1306  Westminster Abbey, Westminster, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [6
    Feast of the Swans 
    • Knighted by Edward, prince of Wales (subsequently, Edward II).
    Military 23 - 24 Jun 1314  Bannockburn, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Battle of Bannockburn 
    • Mortimer was captured at Bannockburn, a crushing defeat of the larger English force at the hands of Robert Bruce. "He was not ransomed. Instead he was given the duty of taking King Edward's privy seal and the royal shield, both of which had been found on the battlefield, to the king at Berwick, with the corpses of the Earl of Gloucester and Robert Clifford. To him fell not the penury of ransom, nor the pain of death, but rather the embarrassment of bearing the tokens of the Scottish king's magnanimity to the English king." [7]
    Battle of Bannockburn
    Battle of Bannockburn
    24 Jun 1314 (Day 2)
    Military Dec 1315  Kells, County Meath, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location  [8
    Battle of Kells 
    • Bruce defeat of Mortimer.
    Title 23 Nov 1316  Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location  [9
    King's Lieutenant of Ireland 
    • Mortimer was appointed King's Lieutenant of Ireland to deal with Edward Bruce and his Scottish army which, by early 1317 was joined by Robert Bruce. The Bruce brothers were unable to rouse the populace and so continued a program of burning and looting. Mortimer mustered his army at Haverford throughout the winter of 1316 and landed his army in Ireland in April. After subduing southern Ireland, he was recalled the following April.
    Title Mar 1319  Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location  [10
    Justiciar of Ireland 
    Military May 1321  Glamorgan, Wales Find all individuals with events at this location 
    The Despenser War 
    • During May and June 1321, a combined force of Marcher lords looted the lands of the Despensers. This culminated in an envelopment of London on 29 July. Pembroke mediated a resolution whereby the Dispensers (like Gaveston) were exiled from the realm. The Elder decamped to Bordeaux. The Younger took to piracy. [11]
    Military 22 Jan 1322  Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Surrender and Imprisonment 
    • After a brief military display and with no hope of relief by Lancaster, Mortimer and his uncle surrendered to the king at Shrewsberry Castle. Pembroke again had acted as a mediator but deceived the men when he promised them that they would pardoned. Instead, they were sent to the Tower. [12]
    Residence 1 Aug 1323  The Tower of London, Tower Hamlets, London, Greater London, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [13
    • With the help of Tower sub-lieutenant, Gerard d'Alspaye, Mortimer escaped from the Tower and made his way to France.
    Tower of London
    Tower of London
    Military 24 Sep 1326  River Orwell, Suffolk Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Invasion of England 
    • From the moment that Mortimer, Queen Isabella and Prince Edward set foot on English soil, the enemies of the Despensers flocked to their cause. The king's army never mustered, forcing Edward to flee to Wales in October. By the end of the month, it was over. The young Prince of Wales was installed as the custodian of the realm. The Despensers were tried and executed. The king abdicated the throne in January. [14]
    Queen Isabella and Sir Roger Mortimer
    Queen Isabella and Sir Roger Mortimer
    Possessions Trim Castle, Trim, County Meath Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Died 29 Nov 1330  Tyburn, London, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [15, 16, 17
    • Executed by Edward III.
    Buried Wigmore Abbey, Wigmore, Herefordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Roger Mortimer
    Roger Mortimer
    1st Earl of March
    • MORTIMER, ROGER (IV) de, eighth Baron of Wigmore and first Earl of March (1287?-1330), was the eldest son of Edmund Mortimer, seventh lord of Wigmore, and his wife Margaret de Fendles or Fiennes, the kinswoman of Eleanor of Castile (Monasticon, vi. 351 ; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. vii. 437-8). The inquests recording the date of his birth differ, but he was probably born either on 3 May 1286 or on. 25 April 1287 (Calendarium Genealogicum, p. 668 ; cf. Eyton, Shropshire, iv. 223, and Doyle, Official Baronage, ii. 466, which latter dates the birth 29 April 1286). Mortimer's uncle was Roger de Mortimer (lit) [q. v.] of Chirk. His father, Edmund, died before 25 July 1304 (Eyton, iv. 225 ; cf. Monasticon, vi. 351 ; Worcester Ann. in Ann. Mon. iv. 557), whereupon Roger succeeded him as eighth lord of Wigmore. He was still under age, and Edward I put him under the wardship of Peter Gaveston, then in favour as a chief friend of Edward, prince of Wales. Mortimer redeemed himself from Gaveston by paying a fine of 2,500 marks, and thereby obtained the right of marrying freely whomsoever he would (Monasticon, vi. 351). On Whitsunday, 22 May 1306, he was one of the great band of young lords who were dubbed knights at Westminster along with King Edward, prince of Wales, by the old king, Edward I, in person (Worcester Ann. p. 558). Mortimer figured in the coronation of Edward II on 25 Feb. 1308 as a bearer of the royal robes (F?dera, ii. 36).

      Mortimer had inherited from his father a great position in the Welsh marches, besides the lordships of Dunmask and other estates in Ireland. His importance was further increased by his marriage, before October 1306, with Joan de Genville. This lady, who was born on 2 Feb. 1286 (Calendarium Genealigicum, p. 449), was the daughter and heiress of Peter de Genville (d. 1292), by Joan, daughter of Hugh XII of Lusignan and La Marche. One Genville was lord of the castle and town of Ludlow in Shropshire, the marcher liberty of Ewyas Lacy, more to the south, and, as one of the representatives of the Irish branch of the Lacys, lord of the liberty of Trim, which included the moiety of the great Lacy palatinate of Meath (Worcester Ann. p. 560 ; Doyle, ii. 467). Two of his daughters became nuns at Acornbury (Eyton, v. 240), so that their sister brought to Mortimer the whole of her father's estates. The acquisition of Ludlow, subsequently the chief seat of the Mortimers' power, enormously increased their influence on the Welsh border, while the acquisition of half of Meath gave the young Roger a place among the greatest territorial magnates of Ireland. But both his Welsh and Irish estates were in a disturbed condition, and their affairs occupied him so completely for the first few years of Edward II's reign that he had comparatively little leisure for general English politics.
      Ireland was Mortimer's first concern. In 1308 he went to that country, and was warmly welcomed by his wife's uncle, Geoffry de Genville, who surrendered all his own estates to him, and entered a house of Dominican friars, where he died (Worcester Ann. p. 560). Yet Mortimer's task was still a very difficult one. Rival families assailed his wife's inheritance, her kinsfolk the Lacys being particularly hostile to the interloper (cf. Cal. Close Rolls, 1307-13, p. 188). Another difficulty arose from Mortimer's claim on Leix, the modern Queen's County, which he inherited from his grandmother, Matilda de Braose (Gilbert, Viceroys of Ireland, p. 136). But his vigour and martial skill at length secured for him the real enjoyment of his Irish possessions, when the Lacys in despair turned to Scotland, and were largely instrumental in inducing Edward Bruce, brother of King Robert, to invade Ireland. In 1316 Mortimer was defeated by Bruce at Kells and driven to Dublin, whence he returned to England. Edward Bruce seemed now likely to become a real king of Ireland, and, to meet the danger, Edward II appointed Mortimer, on 23 Nov. 1316, warden and lieutenant of Ireland, with the very extensive powers necessary to make a good stand against him (F?dera, ii. 301). All English, lords holding Irish lands were required to serve the new viceroy in person or to contribute a force of soldiers commensurate with the extent of their possessions. In February 1317 a fleet was collected at Haverford west to transport the 'great multitude of soldiers, both horse and foot,' that had been collected to accompany Mortimer to Ireland. On Easter Thursday Mortimer landed at Youghal with a force, it was believed, of fifteen thousand men (F?dera, ii.. 309; Parl. Writs, ii. i. 484). On his approach Edward Bruce abandoned the south, and retreated to his stronghold of Carrick-fergus, while his brother, King Robert, who had come over to his aid, went back to Scotland. Old feuds stood in the new viceroy's way, especially one with Edmund Butler, yet Mortimer showed great activity in wreaking his vengeance on the remnants of the Bruces' followers in Leinster and Connaught. He procured the liberation of Richard de Burgh, second earl of Ulster [q.v.], whom the citizens of Dublin had imprisoned on account of a private feud. On 3 June 1317 he defeated Walter de Lacy, the real cause of the Scottish invasion, and next day successfully withstood another attack of the beaten, chieftain and his brothers. He then caused the Lacys to be outlawed as 'felons and enemies of the king,' and ordered their estates to be taken into the king's hands (Gilbert, Viceroys, pp. 531-2). This triumph over the rivals of his wife's family for the lordship of Meath was a personal success for Mortimer as well as a political victory. The Lacys fled into Connaught, whither the king's, troops pursued them, winning fresh victories over the Leinster clans, and strengthening the king's party beyond the Shannon. In 1318 Mortimer was recalled to England. He left behind him at Dublin debts to the amount of 1,000l., which he owed for provisions (ib. p. 143). Even before his Irisk command he had been forced to borrow money from the society of the Frescobaldi (Cal. Close Soils, 1307-13, p. 55). Mortimer continued to hold the viceroyalty, being represented during his absence first by William FitzJohn, archbishop of Cashel, and afterwards by Alexander Bicknor [q.v.], archbishop of Dublin. While Bicknor was deputy Edward Bruce was defeated and slain.

      In March 1319 Mortimer returned to Ireland, with the additional offices of justiciar of Ireland, constable of the town and castle of Athlone, and constable of the castles of Roscommon and Rawdon (Doyle, ii. 466). He instituted a searching examination as to who had abetted Edward Bruce, and rewarded those who had remained faithful to the English crown by grants of confiscated estates. But English politics now demanded Mortimer's full attention. In 1321 he lost his position in Ireland altogether, and his successor's displacement of the officials he had appointed, on the ground of their incompetence, suggests that his removal involved a change in the policy of the Irish government corresponding to the changes which were brought about in England at the same time.

      The circumstances of Wales and Ireland were during this period very similar, and Mortimer was able to apply the experience gained in Ireland to the government of his possessions in Wales and its marches. His uncle, Roger Mortimer of Chirk (with whom he is often confused), was justice of Wales, and he seems to have helped his uncle to establish the independent position of the house of Mortimer on a solid and satisfactory basis. The result was that uncle and nephew ruled North Wales almost as independent princes, though the younger Roger had no official position therein apart from his constableship of the king's castle of Builth, conferred in 1310 (ib.), and not held by him later than 1315 (Cal. Close Rolls, 1313-18, p. 153). But in 1312 the younger Mortimer took a decisive part in protectingthe marcher lord, John Charlton of Powys [q. v.], who was besieged with his Welsh wife Hawyse in Pool Castle by her uncle GruiFydd, and after a good deal of fighting secured Charlton's position as lord of Powys, though for many years Gruffydd continued to assail it. This alliance with one of the strongest neighbours of the Mortimers was further strengthened by the marriage of John, the son of Charlton, with Matilda, daughter of the lord of Wigmore. It was part of a general scheme of binding together the lords marchers in a solid confederacy and with a common policy, such as had In earlier crises of English history, and notably during the barons' wars, made those turbulent chieftains a real power in English politics. The full effect of Mortimer's family connections came out after his quarrel with Edward II in 1321. In 1315 Mortimer took a conspicuous part in repressing the revolt of Llywelyn Bren [q. v.] On 18 March 1316 Llywelyn surrendered to the king's authority in Mortimer's presence (Flor. Hist. iii. 340). Shrewdly and ardently pursuing his self-interest in Ireland and Wales, Mortimer had had no great leisure to take a prominent part in the early troubles of the reign of Edward II. He was one of the barons who signed the letter denouncing papal abuses, addressed to Clement Y, on 6 Aug. 1309, at Stanford (Ann. Londin. in Stubbs, Chron. of Edw. I and Edw. II, i. 162). He does not seem to have taken a definite side, though in some ways his sympathies were with the king against the lords ordainers, who were active enemies of his ally John Charlton. Early in 1313 Mortimer was sent to Gascony 'on the king's service,' and on 2 April the sheriff's of Shropshire and Herefordshire and the bailiff" of Builth were ordered to pay sums amounting in all to l00l. to him for his expenses (Cal. Close Rolls, 1307-13, p. 522). In 1316 he joined the Earl of Pembroke in putting down the revolt of Bristol (Monk of Malmesbury, p. 222). In 1318 Mortimer began to stand out more prominently in English politics. He seems to have attached himself to the middle party, which, under the Earl of Pembroke, himself the greatest of the lords marchers, strove to hold the balance between the Despensers and the courtiers and the regular opposition under Thomas of Lancaster. In 1318, when Pembroke strove to mediate between Edward and Lancaster, Mortimer appears as one of the king's sureties who accepted the treaty of Leek on 9 Aug. A little later he was one of those nominated to sit on the new council of the king, some members of which were to be in perpetual attendance, and without whose consent Edward was suffered to do nothing. He was also put by parliament on the commission appointed to reform the royal household (Cole, Records, p. 12). This is the first clear evidence of his acting even indirectly against the king.

      Local rivalries now complicated general politics, and the danger threatened to his Welsh position first made Mortimer a violent opponent of Edward and the Despensers. William de Braose, the lord of Gower, was in embarrassed circumstances, and about 1320 offered Gower for sale to the highest bidder (Trokelowe, p. 107). Humphrey VIII de Bohun, fourth earl of Hereford [q. v.], agreed to purchase it, thinking that it would round oft' conveniently his neighbouring lordship of Brecon. William de Braose died, but his son-in-law, John de Mowbray, who succeeded to his possessions by right of his wife, was willing to complete the arrangement, and entered into possession of the Braose lands. But the younger Hugh le Despenser [q. v.], who with the hand of Eleanor de Clare, the elder of the coheiresses of the Gloucester inheritance, had acquired the adjacent lordship of Glamorgan, was alarmed at the extension of the Bohun influence, and, on the pretext that Mowbray had taken possession of Gower without royal license, attacked him both in the law courts and in the field. A regular war now broke out for the possession of Gower, and a confederacy of barons was formed to back up the claims of Mowbray and Hereford. The two Mortimers threw themselves eagerly on to Hereford's side. [Trokelowe, p. 111, describes them as 'quasi totius discordige incentores prsecipui.'] Hereditary feuds heightened personal animosities. Hugh le Despenser proposed to avenge on the Mortimers the death of his grandfather slain in the barons' wars (Monk of Malmesbury, p. 256). The younger Mortimer had a special grievance, inasmuch as a castle in South Wales, bestowed formerly on him through the royal favour, had been violently seized by the younger Hugh le Despenser (ib. p. 224).

      By Lent 1321 the war spread to Despenser's palatinate of Glamorgan. Mortimer and his friends carried all before them. In April 1321 Edward summoned Hereford to appear before him ; but Mortimer of Wigmore joined with the earl in refusing to attend. On 1 May the king ordered them not to attack the Despensers. But on 4 May Mortimer and his confederates took Newport. Four days later, Cardiff, with its castle, the head of the lordship of Glamorgan, also fell into their hands (Flor. Hist. iii. 345 ; Murimuth, p. 33 ; Monasticon, vi. 352 ; Ann. Paul., p. 293, which also speaks of the capture of Caerphilly). On 28 June both Mortimers appeared at the great baronial convention at Sherburn in Elmet (Flor. Hist. iii. 197). The current ran strongly against the favourites. In July a parliament assembled in London, to which Mortimer came up with his followers, 'all clothed in green, with their right hands yellow,' and took up his quarters at the priory of St. John's in Clerkenwell (Ann. Paul. p. 294). The Despensers were now attacked in parliament and banished. Mortimer took a conspicuous part against them. On 20 Aug. he was formally pardoned, with many others, before the conclusion of the session (Parl. Writs, II. ii. 168). Mortimer now ret ired to his strongholds in the marches. But Edward, profiting by the unexpected forces which gathered round him for the siege of Leeds in Kent, annulled the proceedings against the Despensers, and marched to the west, at the head of a large army, to take vengeance on the marcher confederacy. Mortimer, with his uncle and Hereford, had marched as far as Kingston-on-Thames {Ann. Paul. pp. 299-310) ; but they made no serious effort to relieve Leeds, and were forced to retreat to the west, whither Edward followed them. The Mortimers still took a leading part in resisting the progress of the king. They captured the town and castle of Gloucester. But they failed to withstand Edward's advance at Worcester, and, though they made a better show at Bridgnorth, Edward captured the castle and burnt the town. The king failed to effect his passage over the Severn, but continued his victorious career northwards to Shrewsbury. But the marcher lords were bitterly disappointed that neither the Earl of Lancaster nor the other great English earls who had encouraged them to resistance had come to their help against Edward. The Mortimers refused to resist Edward any longer, and, on the mediation of the earls of Arundel and Richmond, negotiated the conditions of a compromise (Monk of Malmesbury, p. 264; Ann. Paul. p. 301). On 17 Jan. 1322 Mortimer received a safe-conduct to treat (F?dera, ii. 472). Five days later both he and his uncle made their submission to Edward at Shrewsbury (Parl. Writs, ii. ii. 176 ; Murimuth, p. 35). They were both sent forthwith to the Tower of London to await their trial (ib.), while Edward marched northwards to complete his triumph. Before the end of March Lancaster and Hereford had been slain, and Edward and the Despensers ruled the land without further opposition. The commons of Wales, who hated the severity of the Mortimers' rule, petitioned the king to show no grace either to uncle or nephew for their treasons (Rot. Parl. i. 400 ), and on 13 June a commission was issued for their trial (Parl. Writs,n.u.l93). On 14 July justices were appointed to pass sentence upon them ; but on 22 July the penalty of death was commuted for one of perpetual imprisonment (ib. pp. 213, 216). Both remained in the Tower for more than two years under strict custody in a lofty and narrow chamber ('minus civiliter quam decuit,' Blaneforde apud Trokelowe, p. 145). But they still had powerful friends outside. Adam of Orleton [q. v.], bishop of Hereford, who took his name from one of Mortimer's manors, and had closely co-operated with him in the attack on the Despensers, made preparations for his escape. Gerard de Alspaye, the sub-lieutenant of the Tower, was won over to procure the escape of the younger Mortimer (Knighton, p. v. ; Chron. de London, pp. 45-46 ; Flor. Hist. iii. 217 ; Blaneforde, pp. 145-146, which gives the most circumstantial account. Murimuth, p. 40, puts the escape a year too early). The night chosen was that of the feast of St. Peter ad Vincula, 1 Aug. 1324. The guards, who had celebrated the feast by prolonged revels, had their drink drugged, and were plunged in deep stupor. With the help of his friend a hole was cut in the wall of Mortimer's cell, through which he escaped into the kitchen of the king's palace, from the roof of which he reached one of the wards of the castle. Then a rope ladder enabled him to descend to an outer ward, and so at last to reach the banks of the Thames. The Bishop of Hereford had got ready the external means of escape, Mortimer found a little boat manned by two men awaiting him and his accomplice. In this they were ferried over the river. On the Surrey bank they found horses ready, upon which they fled rapidly through byways to the sea-coast, where a ship was ready which took them over to France, despite the vigorous efforts made by Edward to recapture him (F?dera, p. v.)

      Even in exile Mortimer remained a danger to Edward and the Despensers. He went to Paris, and ingratiated himself in the favour of Charles IV, who was now at open war with his brother-in-law in Guienne, and glad to establish relations with a powerful English nobleman. His partisan, Adam Orleton, though attacked by the king for treason, was so strongly backed up by the bishops that Edward was forced to patch up some sort of reconciliation with him, and allow him to return to the west. Mortimer's mother, Margaret, convoked suspicious assemblies of his friends until in 1326 Edward shut her up in a monastery (Pauli, Geschichte von England, iv. 281, from Patent and Close Rolls, 19 Edw. II.) But a more formidable danger arose after the arrival in Paris of Isabella of France [q . v.], the queen of Edward II, in the spring of 1325. Even before her departure from England Isabella had sought the advice of Orleton. In September she was joined by her son Edward, sent to perform homage to the French king for his duchy of Aquitaine. After the ceremony was performed Isabella and her son still lingered at the court of Charles of France, and in the course of the winter a close connection between her and Mortimer was established, which was notorious in England in the spring of 1326. Walter Stapledon, bishop of Exeter, who had accompanied the young Duke of Aquitaine to France, not only found himself powerless in the queen's counsels, but believed that Mortimer had formed plans to take his life. On his sudden flight to England the last restraint was removed which prevented Isabella from falling wholly into the hands of the little band of exiles who now directed her counsels. It was soon notorious that Mortimer was not only her chief adviser ('jam tune secretissimus atque principalis de privata familia reginse,' Galfridus le Baker, p. 21, ed. Thompson), but her lover as well. The chroniclers both then and later speak with much reserve on so delicate a subject, but none of them ventured to deny so patent a fact.

      Charles IV soon grew ashamed of supporting Isabella and Mortimer, and Isabella left Paris for the Low Countries. Mortimer accompanied her on her journey to the north, where, by betrothing young Edward to Philippa of Hainault, men and money were provided, and the support of a powerful foreign prince obtained for the bold scheme of invading England which Isabella and Mortimer seem by this time to have formed. Mortimer shared with John, brother of the Count of Hainault, the command of the little force of adventurers hastily collected from Hainault and Germany (G. le Baker, p. 21). He crossed over with the queen and the son to Orwell, where they landed on 24 Sept. 1326. The most complete success at once attended the invaders. Not only were they joined by Mortimer's old partisans, such as Bishop Orleton, but the whole of the Lancastrian connection, headed by Henry of Leicester, the brother of Earl Thomas, joined their standard. Edward II fled to Wales, hoping to find protection and refuge amidst the Despensers' lands in Glamorgan ; but Mortimer, who was a greater power in Wales than the king, followed quickly in his steps. At Bristol he sat in judgment on the elder Despenser. On 16 Nov. Edward was taken prisoner. Mortimer was then with the queen at Hereford, where on 17 Nov. the Earl of Arundel was beheaded by his express-command, and where on 24 Nov. his great enemy, the younger Despenser, suffered the same fate, he himself being among the judges who condemned him (Ann. Paul. p. 319).
      The proceedings of the parliament which met on 7 Jan. 1327, deposed Edward and elected his son as king, were entirely directed by Mortimer's astute and unscrupulous agent, Adam Orleton. Mortimer himself went on 13 Jan. with a great following to the Guildhall of London, and promised to maintain the liberties of the city (Ann. Paul. p. 322) which had shown its faithfulness to him by murdering Bishop Stapledon. On 6 March he attested a new charter of liberties granted to the Londoners (ib. p. 332). But Edward III was a mere boy, and for the next four years Mortimer really ruled the realm through his influence over his paramour, Queen Isabella. He was conspicuous at the coronation of the young king on 1 Feb. 1327, on which day three of his sons received the honour of knighthood (Murimuth, p. 51 ; G. le Baker, p. 35). On 21 Feb. 1327 he obtained a formal pardon for his escape from prison and other offences (Cal. Patent Rolls, 1327-30, p. 14). He also procured from parliament the complete revocation of the sentence passed against him and his uncle in 1322, one of the grounds of the reversal being that, contrary to Magna Carta, they had never been allowed trial by their peers (ib. pp. 141-3). The immediate effect of this was to restore him to all his old possessions, and also to the estates of his uncle Chirk, who had died in prison in 1326. But Mortimer was possessed of insatiable greed, and he at once plunged into a course of self-aggrandisement that never ceased for a moment until his fall. The Rolls are filled with grants of estates, offices, wardships, and all sorts of positions of power and emolument to the successful lord of Wigmore. On 15 Feb. 1327, he was granted the lucrative custody of the lands of Thomas Beauchamp, the earl of Warwick, during his minority (Doyle, ii. 466). On 20 Feb. of the same year he was appointed justiciar of the diocese of Llandaff, an office formerly held by his uncle (Doyle gives the wrong date ; cf. Cal. Patent Rolls, p. 311). On 22 Feb. his appointment to the great post of justice of Wales, which had been so long in his uncle's hands, gave him a power over marches and principality even more complete than that formerly possessed by the lord of Chirk. This power was extended to the English border shires by his appointment on 8 June as chief keeper of the peace in the counties of Hereford, Stafford, and Worcester, in accordance with the statute of Winchester (Cal. Patent Rolls, p. 152), to which Staffordshire was added on 26 Oct. (ib. p. 214). On 12 June he was granted the custody of the lands of Glamorgan and Morganwg during pleasure, thus obtaining control of the old estates of the younger Despenser (ib. p. 125). On 13 Sept. 1327 he had a grant of lands worth 1,000l. a year, including the castle of Denbigh, once the property of the elder Despenser, and the castle of Oswestry with all the forfeited manors of Edmund Fitzalan, earl of Arundel [q.v.] (ib. p. 328). On 22 Nov. the manor of Church Stretton, Shropshire, was granted him ' in consideration of his services to Queen Isabella and the king, here and beyond seas' (ib. p. 192). On 29 Sept. 1328 Mortimer's barony was raised to an earldom, bearing the title of March (Doyle, ii. 466 ; ' Et talis comitatus nunquam prius fuit nominatus in regno AngliŠ,' Ann. Paul. p. 343). On 4 Nov. of the same year the new Earl of March was regranted the justiceship of Wales for life (Cal. Patent Rolls, p. 327), and on the same day he was made justice in the bishopric of St. David's, and received power to remove all inefficient ministers and bailiffs of the king in Wales and appoint others in their place (ib. p. 327). In many of the patents he is described as 'the king's kinsman.' The grants go on unbrokenly to the end. On 27 May 1330 he was allowed five hundred marks a year from the issues of Wales in addition to his accustomed fees as justice, 'in consideration of his continued stay with the king' (ib. p. 535). On 16 April Isabella made over to him her interests in the castle of Montgomery and the hundred of Chirbury (ib. p. 506), and on 20 April all his debts and arrears to the exchequer were forgiven (ib. p. 511). The Irish interests of Mortimer and his wife Joan were not forgotten He was invested with complete palatine jurisdiction not only in the liberty of Trim, but over all the counties of Meath and Uriel (Louth), (ib. pp. 372, 538). The custody of the lands of the infant Richard Fitzgerald, third earl of Kildare [see under Fitzgerald, Thomas, second Earl of Kildare], was also placed in his hands, together with the disposal of his hand in marriage (ib. p. 484). Nor did he forget the interests of his friends, who obtained offices, prebends, and grants in the greatest profusion. So careful was he to safeguard his dependents' welfare, that the old cook of Edward I and II was secured his pension and leave of absence at his special request (ib. p. 231). But while Mortimer provided for his friends at the expense of the state, he disbursed a trifling proportion of his vast estates in small pious foundations. He had on 15 Dec. 1328 license to alienate land in mortmain worth one hundred marks a year to support nine chaplains to say mass daily in Lemtwardine Church for the souls of the king, the queen, Queen Isabella, with whom were rather oddly assorted Joan, Mortimer's wife, and their ancestors and successors (ib. p. 343 ; cf. Eyton, xi. 324). Two chaplains were also endowed by him with ten marks sent to say mass for the same persons in a chapel built in the outer ward of Ludlow Castle (Cal. Patent Rolls, p. 343). This foundation was in honour of St. Peter, on whose feast day he had escaped from the Tower (Monasticon, vi. 352). By giving the Leintwardine chaplains the advowson of Church Stretton, funds were found to raise their number to ten (ib. p. 494).
      Mortimer held no formal office in the administration of Edward III, but his dependent, Orleton, was treasurer ; the scarcely less subservient Bishop Hotham of Ely was chancellor ; and partisans of less exalted rank, such as Sir Oliver Inghain [q. v.], held posts on the royal council. His policy seems to have been to rule indirectly through Queen Isabella, while putting as much of the responsibility of power as he could on Earl Henry of Lancaster and his connections. He was accused afterwards of accroaching to himself every royal power, and even suspected of a wish to make himseif king. But it is hard to see any very definite policy in the greedy self-seeking beyond which Mortimer's statecraft hardly extended. The government, under his influence, was as feeble and incompetent as that of Edward II, and the worst crimes which it committed were popularly ascribed to the paramour of the queen-mother. Mortimer and Isabella were regarded as specially -responsible for the murder of Edward II at Berkeley, for the failure of the expedition against the Scots in 1327 (Bermondsey Annals, p. 472), and for the 'Shameful Peace' concluded in 1328 at Northampton, by which Robert Bruce was acknowledged as king of an independent Scotland (Murimuth, p. 57 ; Avesbury, p. 283 ; Chron. de Lanercost, p. 261). It was even reported that Mortimer was now seeking to get himself made king with the help of the Scots (G. le Baker, p. 41).
      Mortimer now lived in the greatest pomp and luxury. In 1328 he held a 'Round Table' tournament at Bedford (Knighton, c. 2553). At the end of May in the same year, immediately after the treaty with the Scots, the young king and his mother went to Hereford, where they were present at the marriage of two of Mortimer's daughters, Joan and Beatrice, and at the elaborate tournaments that celebrated the occasion (G. le Baker, p. 42). They also visited Mortimer at Ludlow and Wigmore (Monasticon, vi. 352).

      Mortimer's commanding position naturally excited the greatest ill-will. Henry of Lancaster was thoroughly disgusted with the ignominious position to which he had been reduced. He had not taken up arms to forward the designs of the ambitious marcher, but to revenge the death of his brother, Earl Thomas. Significant changes in the ministry diminished the influence of Mortimer's supporters, and at last Lancaster declared openly against him. In October 1328 Lancaster refused to attend the Salisbury parliament at which Mortimer was made an earl. Mortimer disregarded his opposition, and in December went to London with Isabella and Edward. As usual he was well received by the citizens (Ann. Paul. p. 343). But on his quitting the capital, Lancaster entered it, and on 2 Jan. 1329 formed a powerful confederacy there, pledged to overthrow the favourite, against whom was drawn up a formidable series of articles (Barnes, Hist. of Edward III, p. 31). But the favourite still showed his wonted energy and ruthlessness. He devastated the lands of his rival with an army largely composed of his Welsh followers, and on 4 Jan. took possession of Leicester. Lancaster marched as far north as Bedford, hoping to fight Mortimer (Knighton, c. 2553), but his partisans deserted him, and he was glad to accept the mediation of the new archbishop of Canterbury, Simon Meopham [q. v.] The subordinate agents of Lancaster were exempted from the pardon at Mortimer's special instance. Flushed with his new triumph, Mortimer wove an elaborate plot which resulted on 19 March 1330 in the execution for treason of the king's uncle Edmund, earl of Kent [q. v.] But this was the last of Mortimer's triumphs.

      Mortimer was, in his insolence and ostentation, surrounded with greater pomp than the king, and enjoyed far greater power. The wild bands of Welsh mercenaries who attended his progresses worked ruin and desolation wherever they went. Edward III was himself impatient at his humiliating subjection to his mother and her lover, and at last found a confidential agent in William de Montacute [q. v.], afterwards first Earl of Salisbury. A parliament was summoned to meet in October 1330 at Nottingham, where the king and Montacute resolved to strike their decisive blow. Great circumspection was necessary. Mortimer and Isabella took up their quarters in Nottingham Castle along with the king, and Mortimer's armed following of Welsh mercenaries held strict guard and blocked up every approach to the king. But the castellan, William Holland, was won over by Edward and Montacute, and showed to the latter an underground passage by which access to the castle could be obtained. But Mortimer had now got a hint of the conspiracy, and in a stormy scene on 19 Oct. Mortimer denounced Montacute as a traitor, and accused the young king of complicity with his designs. But Montacute was safe outside the castle with an armed following, and Mortimer knew nothing of the secret access to the castle. On the very same night the decisive blow was struck. Montacute and his companies entered the stronghold through the underground passage, and Edward joined them in the castle yard . Edward and Montacute, with their followers, ascended to Mortimer's chamber, suspiciously chosen next to that of the queen, and heard him conferring with the chancellor and other ministers within. The doors were broken open. Two knights who sought to bar the passage were struck down, and after a sharp tussle, during which Mortimer slew one of his assailants (Knighton, c. 2556), the favourite was arrested, despite the intervention of Isabella, who burst into the room crying, 'Fair son, have pity on the gentle Mortimer.' (Murimuth, p. 61, says Mortimer was captured 'in camera reginŠ matris,' Ann. Paul. p. 352, cf. Knighton, c. 2555, and ib. c. 2553, 'semper simul in uno hospitio hospitati sunt, unde multa obloquia et murmura de eis suspectuosa oriuntur.') It was all to no purpose. The Earl of March, with his close friends, Sir Oliver Ingham and Sir Simon Bereford, were removed amidst popular rejoicings and under strict guard, by way of Loughborough and Leicester, to the Tower of London, which was reached on 27 Oct. (Ann. Paul. p. 352). Edward issued next day a proclamation to his people that henceforth he had taken the government into his own hands. The parliament was prorogued to Westminster, where it met on 26 Nov. Its first business was to deal with the charges brought against Mortimer. The chief accusations against him were the following. He had stirred up dissension between Edward II and his queen ; he had usurped the powers of the council of regency ; he had procured the murder of Edward II ; he had taught the young king to regard Henry of Lancaster as his enemy ; he had deluded Edmund, earl of Kent, into the belief that his brother was still alive, and had procured his execution, though he was guiltless of crime ; he had appropriated to his own use 20,00(V. paid by the Scots as the price of the peace of Northampton : he had acted as if he were king ; and had done great cruelties in Ireland (Rot. Parl. 11. 52-3 ; cf. 255-6 ; summarised in Stubbs, Const. Hist. ii. 373 ; cf. Knighton, cc. 2556-8). The peers, following Mortimer's own examples in the time of his power, at once condemned him to death without so much as giving him an opportunity of appearing before them, or answering the charges brought against him. He confessed, however, privately, that the Earl of Kent had been guilty of no crime (Rot. Parl. ii. 33). On 29 Nov. Mortimer, clad in black, was conveyed through the city from the Tower to Tyburn Elms, and there hanged, drawn, and quartered, like a common malefactor ('tractus et suspensus,' G. le Baker, p. 47 ; 'super communi furca latrdnum,' Murimuth, p. 62). It was believed that the details of the execution were based on Mortimer's own orders in the case of the younger Despenser. His body remained two days exposed, but the king's clemency soon allowed it honourable burial. The exact place of its deposit does not seem certain. It was buried at some Franciscan church (Canon of Bridlington, p. 102), either at Newgate in London (Barnes, p. 51), at Shrewsbury (Monasticon, vi. 352), or, as seems most probable from an official record, at Coventry (F?dera, ii. 828 ; cf. Wright, Hist. of Ludlow, p. 225). In any case, however, the remains were transferred in November 1331 to the family burial place in the Austin priory at Wigmore.

      Mortimer's wife, Joan, survived him, dying in 1356. In 1347 she had the liberty of Trim restored to her (Rot. Parl. ii. 223 a). By her Mortimer had a numerous family. Their firstborn son, Edmund, married Elizabeth, daughter of Lord Badlesmere, and died when still young at Stanton Lacy in 1331. The family annalist maintains that he was Earl of March, but this was not the case. This Edmund's son Roger, who is separately noticed, was restored to the earldom of March in 1355, and is known as second earl.

      Mortimer's younger sons were Roger, a knight ; Geoffrey 'comes Jubmensis et dominus de Cowyth;' and John, slain in a tournament at Shrewsbury. His seven daughters were all married into powerful families. They were : Catharine, who married her father's ward, Thomas de Beauchamp, and was mother of Thomas de Beauchamp, earl of Warwick (d. 1401) [q. v.] ; Joan, married to James of Audley ; Agnes (d. 1368), married to another of Mortimer's wards, Laurence, son of John Hastings, and afterwards first earl of Pembroke [q. v.] ; Margaret, married to Thomas, the son of Maurice of Berkeley [see Berkeley, family of] ; Matilda or Maud, married to John, son and heir of John Charlton, first lord Charlton of Powys [q. v.] ; Blanche, married to Peter of Grandison ; and Beatrice, married firstly to Edward, son and heir of Thomas of Brotherton, earl of Norfolk and elder son of Edward I (by his second wife Margaret), and after his death to Thomas deBraose (Dugdale, Monasticon, vi. 352, corrected by Doyle and Eyton).

      [Rymer's Foedera, vol. ii. Record ed.; Parl. Writs ; Rot. Parl. vols. i. ii. ; Annales Monastici, ed. Luard ; Chronicles Edward I and II, ed. Stubbs ; Murimuth and Avesbury, ed. Thompson ; Flores Historiarum and Trokelowe (all in Rolls Series) ; Chronicon Galfridi le Baker, with E. M. Thompson's valuable notes and extracts from other Chronicles; Knighton apud Twysden, Decem Scriptores; Dugdale's Monasticon, vi. 351-352, ed. Caley, Ellis, and Bandinel; Dugdale'sBaronage, i. 144-7 ; Doyle's Official Baronage, ii.; Eyton's Shropshire, 466-7 ; especially vols. iv. and v. ; Wright's Hist, of Lmdlow, pp. 217-25 ; Stubbs's Const. Hist. vol. ii.; Pauh's Geschichte von England, vol. iv. ; Barnes's History of Edward III. Besides his famous presentation in Marlowe's Edward II, Mortimer is the hero of a fragment of a tragedy by Ben Jonson entitled 'Mortimer, his Falle.' He is also the subject of an anonymous play, published in 1691 with a preface by William Mountfort, and revived -with additions in 1731, its title being 'King Edward III, with the Fall of Mortimer, Earl of March.' A meagre and valueless life of Mortimer was published in 1711 as a political satire on Robert Harley, earl of Oxford, and Mortimer. Among the attacks on Sir R. Walpole there was published in 1732 the 'Norfolk Sting, or the History of the Fall of Evil Ministers,' which included a life of Mortimer.]
    Person ID I11054  Dickinson
    Last Modified 11 May 2018 

    Father Edmund I de Mortimer, 2nd Baron Mortimer,   b. ca. 1251, Wigmore Castle, Wigmore, Herefordshire Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 17 Jul 1304, Wigmore Castle, Wigmore, Herefordshire Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 53 years) 
    Relationship Birth 
    Mother Margaret de Fiennes, Baroness Mortimer,   d. 7 Feb 1333 
    Relationship Birth 
    Married Sep 1285  [19
    Family ID F3109  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Joan de Geneville, 2nd Baroness Geneville,   b. 2 Feb 1286, Ludlow Castle, Ludlow, Shropshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 19 Oct 1356, King's Stanley, Gloucestershire Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 70 years) 
    Married 20 Sep 1301  Pembridge, Herefordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [20
    +1. Edmund II de Mortimer,   b. Abt 1302,   d. 16 Dec 1331, Stanton Lacy, Shropshire Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 29 years)  [Birth]
     2. Roger de Mortimer,   b. Before 1303,   d. Before 27 Aug 1328  (Age ~ 25 years)  [Birth]
    +3. Margaret de Mortimer, Baroness Berkeley,   b. 2 May 1304,   d. 5 May 1337  (Age 33 years)  [Birth]
     4. Geoffrey de Mortimer,   b. ca. 1308,   d. ca. 1375  (Age ~ 67 years)  [Birth]
     5. John de Mortimer,   d. After 27 Aug 1328, Shrewsbury, Worcester Find all individuals with events at this location  [Birth]
    +6. Katherine de Mortimer, Countess of Warwick,   b. Ludlow Castle, Ludlow, Shropshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1369  [Birth]
    +7. Joan de Mortimer, Baroness Audley,   d. bet. 1337 and 1351  [Birth]
    +8. Agnes de Mortimer, Countess of Pembroke,   d. 25 Jul 1368  [Birth]
    +9. Matilda de Mortimer, Lady Cherlton,   d. After Aug 1345  [Birth]
     10. Blanche de Mortimer, Lady Grandison,   b. ca. 1316, Ludlow Castle, Ludlow, Shropshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1347  (Age ~ 31 years)  [Birth]
    +11. Beatrice de Mortimer, Lady Brewes,   d. 16 Oct 1383  [Birth]
    Last Modified 9 Jun 2015 
    Family ID F3101  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 25 Apr 1287 - Wigmore Castle, Wigmore, Herefordshire Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 20 Sep 1301 - Pembridge, Herefordshire, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsTitle - Feast of the Swans - 22 May 1306 - Westminster Abbey, Westminster, London, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMilitary - Battle of Bannockburn - 23 - 24 Jun 1314 - Bannockburn, Scotland Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMilitary - Battle of Kells - Dec 1315 - Kells, County Meath, Ireland Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsTitle - King's Lieutenant of Ireland - 23 Nov 1316 - Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsTitle - Justiciar of Ireland - Mar 1319 - Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMilitary - The Despenser War - May 1321 - Glamorgan, Wales Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMilitary - Surrender and Imprisonment - 22 Jan 1322 - Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsResidence - Escape - 1 Aug 1323 - The Tower of London, Tower Hamlets, London, Greater London, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMilitary - Invasion of England - 24 Sep 1326 - River Orwell, Suffolk Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsPossessions - - Trim Castle, Trim, County Meath Ireland Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 29 Nov 1330 - Tyburn, London, Middlesex, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - - Wigmore Abbey, Wigmore, Herefordshire, England Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

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    14. [S163] The Greatest Traitor: The Life of Sir Roger Mortimer, Ruler of England 1327-1330, Ian Mortimer, (New York: Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin's Press, 2003), 150-156.

    15. [S23] The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England, Dan Jones, (New York: Viking, 2012), 363-365.

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    17. [S518] The Black Prince: England's Greatest Medieval Warrior, Michael Jones, (New York: Pegasus Books, 2018), 36.

    18. [S336351] Dictionary of National Biography, 63 volumes, Sir Sidney Lee, ed., (New York: McMillan and Company, 1885-1900), Public Domain., vol. 39, 136-44.

    19. [S163] The Greatest Traitor: The Life of Sir Roger Mortimer, Ruler of England 1327-1330, Ian Mortimer, (New York: Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin's Press, 2003), 11.

    20. [S163] The Greatest Traitor: The Life of Sir Roger Mortimer, Ruler of England 1327-1330, Ian Mortimer, (New York: Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin's Press, 2003), 13-14.