Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March

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Roger de Mortimer, 1st Earl of March

Nicknames: "Roger Earl of March de Mortimer", "8th Baron of Wigmore", "3rd Baron Mortimer", "1st Earl of March"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Wigmore Castle, Herefordshire, England
Death: Died in Elms,Tyburn,Warwickshire,England
Cause of death: Hanged. He was accused of assuming royal power and of various other high misdemeanours, he was condemned without trial and ignominiously hanged at Tyburn on 29 November 1330, his vast estates being forfeited to the crown.
Place of Burial: Grayfriars Monastery, Coventry, West Midlands, England, but later moved to Wigmore Abbey, Wigmore, Herefordshire, England
Immediate Family:

Son of Edmund de Mortimer and Margaret (Eleanor) de Fiennes
Husband of Joan de Geneville, 2nd Baroness Geneville
Partner of Isabella of France, Queen consort of England
Father of Edmund Mortimer 1st Earl of March; Maud de Mortimer; Margaret de Mortimer; Roger Mortimer; Geoffrey de Mortimer, Seigneur Of Couhe and 7 others
Brother of Matilda / Maud de Mortimer; Sir Hugh de Mortimer; Walter Mortimer; Elizabeth de Mortimer; Edmund de Mortimer and 2 others
Half brother of Isolde de Mortimer

Occupation: regent, soldier, and magnate
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Roger de Mortimer, 1st Earl of March

Roger de Mortimer, 8th Baron of Wigmore, 3rd Baron Mortimer and 1st Earl of March (born 1287? - died 29 November 1330, Tyburn, near London, England) lover of Isabella, the wife of Edward II of England: they invaded England in 1326 and compelled the king to abdicate in favour of his son, Edward III; executed.

comments

From The Execution of Roger Mortimer by Kathryn Warner (2006):

"Roger Mortimer was a fascinating man who deserves to be much better known. He was intelligent, competent, and ruthless, and, in the end, proof of the adage that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Power went to his head at least as much as it did to Hugh Despenser's, and he repeated the avaricious and tyrannical mistakes of the previous favorite, and added a few of his own."

"Thanks to Edward III's lack of vindictiveness, however, Roger's descendants thrived in the later fourteenth century. His grandson Roger was restored to the earldom of March in 1354, his great-grandson Edmund married Edward III's granddaughter Philippa of Clarence, and his great-great-grandson Roger was heir to the throne of England in the late 1390s."

Family

  •  Father: Sir Edmund Mortimer, Lord of Wigmore (1251 - 17 Jul 1304)
  •  Mother: Margaret de Fiennes (Aft 1269 - 7 Feb 1333/1334)

Married: 

  1. Bef 6 Oct 1306 to Joane de Geneville (Abt 2 Feb 1285 - 19 Oct 1356). She was the daughter of Sir Piers de Geneville and Joan of Lusignan.

Their 12 children (four sons, eight daughters):

  1. Margaret Mortimer (1304 - 5 May 1337). Married Thomas de Berkeley, 3rd Baron Berkeley.
  2. Sir Edmund Mortimer (Abt 1306 - 17 Dec 1331). Married Elizabeth de Badlesmere.
  3. Sir Roger Mortimer ( - ). Married Joan Le Botiller.
  4. Maud Mortimer (1307 - Aft 1345). Married John de Charlton, Lord of Powys.
  5. Geoffrey Mortimer, Lord of Towyth (1309 - Abt 1372/1376). Married Jeanne de Lezay.
  6. John Mortimer (1310 - 1328). He was killed in a tournament at Shrewsbury sometime after 1328.
  7. Joan Mortimer (Abt 1311/1313 - Abt 1337/1351). Married James Audley, 2nd Baron Audley.
  8. Isabella Mortimer (Abt 1311/1313 - Aft 1327)
  9. Catherine Mortimer (1314 - 4 Aug 1369/6 September 1369). Married Thomas de Beauchamp, 11th Earl of Warwick.
  10. Blanche Mortimer (Abt 1314/1322 - 1347). Married Peter de Grandison, 2nd Baron Grandison.
  11. Agnes Mortimer (Abt 1315/1321 - 25 Jul 1368). Married Laurence Hastings, 1st Earl of Pembroke.
  12. Beatrice Mortimer (Abt 1315/1321 - 16 Oct 1383). Married 1) Edward of Norfolk 2) Thomas de Braose, 1st Baron Braose.

Liaison with:

  1. Isabelle de France (Abt 1292 - 22 Aug 1358). No issue

Royal descendants

Through his son Sir Edmund Mortimer, he is an ancestor of the last Plantagenet monarchs of England from King Edward IV to Richard III. By Edward IV's daughter, Elizabeth of York, the Earl of March is an ancestor to King Henry VIII and to all subsequent monarchs of England.

Ancestry

From Crawley's MedLands: England Earls 1207-1466 retrieved 03 May 2014:

EDMUND de Mortimer of Wigmore, son of ROGER de Mortimer of Wigmore & his wife Maud de Briouse (before 1251-Wigmore Castle 17 Jul 1304, bur Wigmore).  A manuscript narrating the foundation of Wigmore Abbey names “Radulphum primogenitum…Edmundum…Rogerum dominum de Chirke, Galfridum militem…et Willielmum militem” as sons of “domina Matilda…[et] Rogero de Mortuomari”, adding that he died “in castro suo de Wygemore VII Kal Aug 1304” and was buried “in…abbathia de Wygmore”[362].  A manuscript which narrates the descents of the founders of Lanthony Abbey names “Edmundus de Mortuomari” as son of “Rogero de Mortuomari, domino de Wyggemore” & his wife[363].  Inquisitions after a writ dated 5 Nov "10 Edw I" following the death of "Roger de Mortuo Mari the elder” name “Edmund his son aged 30 and more is his next heir...Maud his wife...”[364].  He was summoned to parliament 24 Jun 1295, whereby he is held to have become Lord Mortimer. 

m (before 1286) MARGUERITE de Fiennes, daughter of GUILLAUME [II] de Fiennes & his wife Blanche de Brienne (-1334).  A manuscript narrating the foundation of Wigmore Abbey records that “Edmundus de Mortuomari…Rogeri de Mortuomari…secundogenitus” married “Margaretam…filiam domini Willielmi de Fendles de Hispania”, adding that she was “dominæ Alianoræ reginæ Angliæ…consanguineam”[365]. 

Lord Edmund & his wife had eight children: 

1.         ROGER (25 Apr or 3 May 1287-executed Tyburn, London 29 Nov 1330, bur Shrewsbury, Church of the Grey Friars).  A manuscript narrating the foundation of Wigmore Abbey names “Rogerum primum comitem” as son of “Edmundus de Mortuomari…Rogeri de Mortuomari…secundogenitus” and his wife “Margaretam…filiam domini Willielmi de Fendles de Hispania”[366].  He succeeded his father in 1304 as Lord Mortimer.  He was created Earl of March in 1328. 

Biographical summary

(mostly from Wikipedia retrieved 03 May 2014)

The descendant of Norman knights who had accompanied William the Conqueror, he inherited wealthy family estates and fortunes, principally in Wales and Ireland, and in 1304 became 8th Baron of Wigmore on the death of his father, the 7th baron. He devoted the early years of his majority to obtaining effective control of his Irish lordships against his wife’s kinsmen, the Lacys, who summoned to their aid Edward Bruce, brother of King Robert I of Scotland, when he was fighting to become king of Ireland. In 1316 Mortimer was defeated at Kells and withdrew to England, but afterward, as King Edward II’s lieutenant in Ireland (November 1316), he was largely instrumental in overcoming Bruce and in driving the Lacys from Meath.

In 1317 he was associated with the Earl of Pembroke’s “middle party” in English politics; but distrust of the Despensers (see Despenser, Hugh Le and Hugh Le) drove him, in common with other marcher lords, into opposition and violent conflict with the Despensers in South Wales in 1321. But, receiving no help from Edward II’s other enemies, Roger and his uncle Roger Mortimer of Chirk made their submission in January 1322. Imprisoned in the Tower of London, Roger escaped in 1323 and fled to France, where in 1325 he was joined by Queen Isabella, who became his mistress. The exiles invaded England in September 1326; the fall of the Despensers was followed by the deposition of Edward II and his subsequent murder (1327), in which Mortimer was deeply implicated.

Thereafter, as the queen’s paramour, Mortimer virtually ruled England. He used his position to further his own ends. Created Earl of March in October 1328, he secured for himself the lordships of Denbigh, Oswestry, and Clun, formerly belonging to the Earl of Arundel; the marcher lordships of the Mortimers of Chirk; and Montgomery, granted to him by the queen. His insatiable avarice, his arrogance, and his unpopular policy toward Scotland aroused against Mortimer a general revulsion among his fellow barons, and in October 1330 the young king Edward III, at the instigation of Henry of Lancaster, had him seized at Nottingham and conveyed to the Tower. Condemned for crimes declared to be notorious by his peers in Parliament, he was hanged at Tyburn as a traitor, and his estates were forfeited to the crown.

timeline

Roger Mortimer was born on either 25 April or 3 May 1287 at Thornbury, Herefordshire, son of Sir Edmund Mortimer, Lord of Wigmore, and Margaret de Fiennes. On 29 July 1304 the wardship of his lands was granted to Piers Gaveston. On 30 December 1304 Roger had permission to pay off his father's debts at the rate of £20 a year. On 9 April 1306, although still under age, he was given control of his lands, apparently having satisfied Piers Gaveston by paying him 2,500 marks for licence to marry. 

On 22 May 1306 he was made a knight with many others by the king at Westminster at the same time as the prince of Wales. Before 6 October 1306 he married Joane de Geneville, daughter of Piers de Geneville, 2nd lord Geneville, and Jeanne de Lusignan, dame de Couhe et de Peyrat. Twelve children would survive into adulthood, four sons and eight daughters, of whom one son Edmund and six daughters would have progeny. Some time in 1306 he performed service in Scotland, and in October his lands were seized, as he was one of those who left the king's service there without permission. However, he was pardoned in the following January and his lands were restored at the intercession of Queen Margaret, Marguerite de France, widow of Edward I Longshanks. 

On 15 December 1307 the justiciar of Ireland was ordered to deliver to him the lands of his inheritance in Ireland, although he was still under age. By inheritance and through his marriage he became a great magnate in both Wales and in Ireland. At the coronation of King Edward II he was one of the four bearers of the royal robes. He was summoned for military service against the Scots in 1308 and in 1309. On 28 October 1308 Roger and his wife went to Ireland and took possession of Meath, his wife's inheritance. 

In 1316 he was defeated in Ireland by Edward Bruce, after which he returned to England and later helped the earl of Pembroke to suppress a revolt in Bristol. On 23 November 1316 he was appointed the king's lieutenant in Ireland. On 3 June 1317 he defeated Walter de Lacy and his men; the next day, when Walter and his three brothers again attacked, he again defeated them. In 1318 he was recalled to England. In the dispute between the king and the Despensers on the one hand and the earl of Lancaster on the other, Mortimer seems to have tried to keep a middle course with the earl of Pembroke. On 15 March 1319 he was appointed justiciar of Ireland and held this office till January 1321. 

In 1321 King Edward II summoned Mortimer and the earl of Hereford to attend him, but they refused to come because the younger Despenser was with the king. On 28 June 1321 Roger and his uncle were present at the meeting of the barons at Sherburn, as a result of which the king was forced to banish the Despensers and pardon the Mortimers to whom the Welsh Marches were returned. 

On 12 November 1321 he was ordered to abstain from the meeting of the 'Good Peers' that Thomas of Lancaster had convened for 29 November. Later, when the forces of the king besieged the castle of Leeds in Kent, which had refused admission to the queen, Hereford and Mortimer came as near as Kingston, but did nothing to relieve Leeds Castle. On 22 January 1322 the Mortimers, receiving no help from the earl of Lancaster, surrendered to the king and were sent to the Tower. 

When the earl of Lancaster was overthrown and killed at the Battle of Boroughbridge on 22 March 1322, the Despensers returned to power and the Mortimers were tried and condemned to death, but the sentence was commuted to perpetual imprisonment. On 1 August 1324 Roger escaped from the Tower, the guards having been drugged, and went to France. Here he helped the French King Charles IV in his war with Edward II in Guyenne. 

In the spring of 1325 Queen Isabelle crossed over to France to arrange peace in Guyenne between her husband Edward II and her brother Charles IV. In September 1325 she was followed by her eldest son, the future Edward III, who came to do homage for Aquitaine. During this time Mortimer became the lover of Queen Isabelle as well as her adviser. 

On 24 September 1326 the queen, Mortimer, Jean of Hainault and their forces landed near Ipswich where they were joined by Henry, earl of Lancaster, and other opponents of the Despensers. The king and the Despensers fled to Wales pursued by Mortimer, and on 26 October 1326 the elder Despenser was captured at Bristol, tried and hanged. On 16 November 1326 the king and the younger Despenser were captured at Llantrisant. The next day Mortimer ordered the execution of Arundel, and on 24 November Mortimer, Lancaster and Kent sat in judgment on the younger Despenser and had him hanged on gallows 50 feet high. 

On 7 January 1327 Parliament deposed Edward II and made his son king. Mortimer was present on 28 January when Edward III gave the Great Seal to the new chancellor, the bishop of Ely, and on 1 February he was also present at the coronation of Edward III. He received a pardon for his escape from the Tower as well as having his lands restored to him. 

In October 1328 he was created earl of March, the first earldom created in England that was not a county. Until then he had had little opposition in his career of self-aggrandisement since his return from exile. While holding no office in the government, he obtained posts in it for his friends. At the same time he secured for himself through Queen Isabelle a flood of lucrative grants, which enabled him to make a display of great magnificence while exercising almost regal power. However, discontent had been growing among his rivals. The first to show his resentment was Henry, earl of Lancaster, who had been appointed guardian of the young king but had gradually been ousted by Mortimer. Mortimer overran Lancaster's lands and seized Leicester. As well, Lancaster's adherents deserted him, leaving Mortimer in ascendancy for the time being. As a result, further grants were made to him and his wife. 

Early in 1330 he tricked Edmund, earl of Kent, into a plot to restore Edward II, making him believe this monarch was still alive. The resulting trial for treason, condemnation and execution was a success for Mortimer but rebounded against him. Edward III, resenting the control of Mortimer as well as his influence over his mother, headed a conspiracy to get rid of Mortimer. 

When Queen Isabelle and Mortimer were staying at Nottingham Castle, its governor revealed to William de Montagu a secret passage into the castle whereby Mortimer's Welsh guards could be evaded. On the night of 18 October 1330 the conspirators burst in on Mortimer, who slew one of his assailants but was overpowered and arrested by order of the king. Ignoring the pleas of the queen mother, he was sent to London with two of his sons. On 28 October Edward III took the government into his own hands and, in the Parliament of 26 November, Mortimer was impeached, found guilty without being heard in his defence, and condemned to be executed. 

He died on 29 November 1330, being dragged to execution like a felon and hanged at the Elms, Tyburn. His body was left on the gallows for two days and two nights, and then buried in the church of the Grey Friars at Shrewsbury.

The Execution of Roger Mortimer

From The Execution of Roger Mortimer by Kathryn Warner (2006):

Roger was arrested in Nottingham Castle on 19 October 1330, in the hastily planned and executed seizure of power by the young Edward III, aged not quite eighteen. Apparently, Edward III wished to execute him immediately, but was persuaded by Henry, earl of Lancaster, to put Roger on trial before Parliament. Roger was first taken to Leicester, then imprisoned in the Tower of London until his trial on 26 November.

In keeping with several other so-called 'trials' of this time, of Thomas of Lancaster and the Despensers, Roger was not permitted to speak in his own defense when he was taken before Parliament at Westminster. In fact, he was gagged to make sure he couldn't speak. He was also bound, with ropes or chains. He was charged with fourteen crimes, including: the murder of Edward II; procuring the death of Edward's half-brother Kent; and taking royal power and using it to enrich himself, his children and his supporters. The outcome of the 'trial' was never in doubt. Roger was found guilty of these crimes, and 'many others', by notoriety, that is, his crimes were 'notorious and known for their truth to you and all the realm'.

On 29 November 1330, Roger was taken from the Tower. He was forced to wear the black tunic he had worn to Edward II's funeral three years earlier, appointed reference to his hypocrisy, and dragged behind two horses to Tyburn, where he would be hanged. His clothes were taken off him, so he died naked. 

Verses of the 52nd Psalm were read out loud to him - 'Why do you glory in mischief?' - and he was allowed to speak a few words to the crowd. He didn't mention Edward II, or Queen Isabella, but admitted his role in the judicial murder of the earl of Kent.

Roger was not, as is often stated, the first person to be executed at Tyburn (executions had taken place there for well over a century, since the 1190s), but he was the first nobleman to be hanged there. Tyburn was the execution site for common criminals, and hanging was the method used to dispatch them. 

Noblemen were usually beheaded. The Despensers were an exception, but in 1322 Edward II had commuted Thomas of Lancaster's sentence to be hanged, drawn and quartered to beheading, and in 1312 even Piers Gaveston was given the nobleman's death, because he was the earl of Gloucester's brother-in-law. The site and method chosen for Roger's execution were a deliberate attempt to treat him as a common criminal. At least Edward III spared him the full horrors of the traitor's death, and death came within a few minutes-a relief, as medieval hanging victims often took hours to die.

Roger's burial site is uncertain. He is stated to have been buried at  the Grey Friars church in Shrewsbury, but a year after his death, his widow Joan de Geneville petitioned Edward III for his body to be removed to Wigmore, and it was the Franciscans of Coventry who were licensed to deliver it. Wherever his final resting place was, his tomb is now lost.

Unfortunately the story that, twenty-eight years later, Isabella chose to be buried at the Grey Friars in London because it was Roger's final resting place, is not true, though it's still often repeated today. It is possible, however, that Roger's body lay there for a while before his final burial, though this hardly seems sufficient reason for Isabella to have been buried there (her aunt Marguerite was also buried there, in 1318).

References

  1. The Complete Peerage, 1936 , Doubleday, H.A. & Lord Howard de Walden. VIII 433
  2. A Genealogical History of the dormant, abeyant, forfeited and extinct peerages of the British Empire, London, 1866, Burke, Sir Bernard. 384
  3. The Ancestry of Elizabeth of York, 1999 , Lewis, Marlyn. 288
  4. Mortimer, Ian. The Greatest Traitor: The Life of Sir Roger Mortimer. Thomas Dunne Books, 2006.
  5. Richardson, Douglas (2011). Everingham, Kimball G., ed. Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families II (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City. ISBN 1449966349.
  6. Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came to America Before 1700 By Frederick Lewis Weis; Lines: 10–31, 29–32, 29–33, 39–31, 47B-33, 71–33, 71A-32, 120–33, 176B-32, 263–31

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Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March's Timeline

1287
April 25, 1287
Wigmore Castle, Herefordshire, England
1306
October 6, 1306
Age 19
Of, , Shropshire, England
1306
Age 18
Wigmore, Herefordshire, England
1307
1307
Age 19
Wigmore,Herefordshire,England
1308
1308
Age 20
Ludlow, Wigmore, Herefordshire, England
1309
1309
Age 21
Wigmore, Herefordshire, , England
1310
1310
Age 22
Wigmore, Hertfordshire, England
1310
Age 22
Wigmore, Herefordshire, England
1313
1313
Age 25
Wigmore, Herefordshire, England
1313
Age 25
Wigmore, Herefordshire, England