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Birthca 1231, Cwmaron castle.
Deathbef 30 Oct 1282, Kingsland, Hereford
BurialWigmore, Hereford
GeneralSherriff of Herefords.
FatherRalph de Mortimer (1190-1246)
MotherGlwadys Dhu (of Wales) (ca1194-1251)
Notes for Roger de Mortimer Lord of Mortimer
Feudal baron of of Wigmore, Herefords.
DNB Main notes for Roger de Mortimer Lord of Mortimer
Mortimer, Roger (II) de, sixth Baron of Wigmore 1231?-1282

Name: Mortimer, Roger (II) de
Title: sixth Baron of Wigmore
Dates: 1231?-1282
Active Date: 1271
Gender: Male

Place of
: Priory of Wigmore
Spouse: Matilda de Braose
Sources: Annales Monastici (Rolls Ser.); Rishanger's Chronicle (Rolls Ser...
Contributor: T. F. T. [Thomas Frederick Tout]

Mortimer, Roger (II) de, sixth Baron of Wigmore 1231?-1282, was the eldest son of Ralph de Mortimer II, the fifth baron, and of his Welsh wife Gwladys Ddu, daughter of Llywelyn ab Iorwerth [q.v.]. His parents were married in 1230 (Worcester Annals in Ann. Mon. iv. 421), and Roger was probably born in the following year. His father died on 6 Aug. 1246, and after his estates had remained in the king's hands for six months, Roger paid the heavy fine of two thousand marks, in return for which he received the livery of his lands on 26 Feb. 1247. This payment may also be regarded as a composition for the remaining rights of wardship vested in the crown, since Roger could not yet have attained his legal majority. Before the end of the same year, 1247, Roger contracted a rich marriage with Matilda de Braose, eldest daughter and coheiress of William de Braose, whom Llywelyn ab Iorwerth had hanged in 1230, on a suspicion of adultery with his wife Joan (d. 1237), princess of Wales [q.v.]. Matilda, who must have been her husband's senior by several years, brought to Mortimer a third of the great marcher lordship of Brecon, and a share in the still greater inheritance of the Earls Marshal, which came to her through her mother. Roger thus acquired the lordship of Radnor, which, like Brecon, admirably rounded off his Welsh and marcher estates, as well as important land in South Wales, England, and Ireland (Eyton, Shropshire, iv. 217). `At this point,' Mr. Eyton says very truly, `the history of the house of Mortimer passes from the scope of a merely provincial record and becomes a feature in the annals of a nation.'
Mortimer was dubbed knight by Henry III in person, when that king was celebrating his Whitsuntide court of 1253 at Winchester (Tewkesbury Annals in Ann. Mon. i. 152). In August of the same year he accompanied the king to Gascony (Dugdale, Baronage, i. 141). He was much occupied during the next few years in withstanding the rising power of his kinsman, Llywelyn ab Gruffydd [q.v.], prince of Wales, who, however, in 1256 succeeded in depriving him of his Welsh lordship of Gwrthrynion (Annales Cambri‘, p. 91; Brut y Tywysogion). In January 1257 Mortimer had letters of protection while engaged in the king's service in Wales. In April 1258 King Henry promised him large financial aid to enable him to continue his struggle with Llywelyn. Next year his wife's share of the Braose estates was finally determined. On 11 June 1259 Mortimer was among the commissioners assigned to treat for peace with Llywelyn. On 25 June he joined in signing a truce for a year with the Welsh prince at Montgomery (Federa, i. 387). But on 17 July 1260 the Welsh attacked and captured Builth Castle, which Mortimer held as representative of Edward, the king's son. Edward did not altogether acquit him of blame (ib. i. 398; Brut y Tywysogion, s.a. 1259, here unduly minimises Llywelyn's success). But in August Mortimer was again appointed as negotiator of a truce with Llywelyn, though his name does not appear among the signatories of the truce signed on 22 Aug. (Eyton, Shropshire, iv. 217-19).
On the outbreak of the great struggle between Henry III and the barons in 1258 Mortimer at first arrayed himself on the baronial side. He was one of the twelve chosen by the barons to form with twelve nominees of the king a great council to reform the state. He was also appointed one of the permanent council of fifteen who were jointly to exercise the royal power. He was also one of the twenty-four commissioners chosen on behalf of the whole community to treat of the aid which the king required to carry on the Welsh war. Yet the occupation of Mortimer in Wales must have prevented him from taking a very active part in affairs at Westminster, though in the provisions of 1259 he was appointed with Philip Basset to be always with the justiciar (Ann. Burton. in Ann. Mon. i. 479). Moreover, the increasingly close relations between his great enemy, Llywelyn of Wales, and the party of Montfort, must have made it extremely difficult for Mortimer to remain long on the side of the barons. He had close connections with Richard of Clare, seventh earl of Gloucester, and lord of Glamorgan [q.v.], and with the Lord Edward, who, as holding the king's lands in Wales, was directly associated in interest with the marcher party, of which Mortimer was in a sense the head. But the quarrel of Gloucester and Montfort, and the ultimate breaking off of all ties between Edward and the Montfort party, must have relaxed the strongest ties that bound Mortimer to the party of opposition. In November 1261 the barons were forced to make a compromise with Henry, who on 7 Dec. formally pardoned some of his chief opponents. The names of Leicester and Mortimer were both included in this list; but what with Leicester was but a temporary device to gain time marks with Mortimer a definite change of policy. Henceforth Mortimer was always on the royal side. All the marcher lords emulated his example, and became the strongest of royalist partisans. The Tewkesbury chronicler makes the hatred felt by the barons for Edward and Mortimer the mainspring of the civil troubles that now again broke out (Ann. Tewkesbury in Ann. Mon. i. 179).
In June 1262 Mortimer was waging war against Llywelyn, who bitterly complained to the king of his violation of the truce (Federa, i. 420), and obtained the appointment of a commission to investigate his complaints. But Llywelyn soon took the law into his own hands. In November the Welsh tenants of Mortimer in Melenydd rose in revolt, and called on Llywelyn, who in December attacked Mortimer's three castles of Knucklas, Bleddva, and Cevnllys (Worcester Annals, p. 447; Federa, i. 423). All three castles were soon taken. Mortimer himself defended Cevnllys, but was forced to march out with all his followers, and Llywelyn did not venture to assail him (ib. i. 423). However, Roger soon recovered this castle (Royal Letters, ii. 229). On 18 Feb. 1263 Mortimer, with other border barons, received royal letters of protection to last until 24 June, or as long as the war should endure in Wales. They were renewed in November of the same year. He remained in Wales, and inflicted terrible slaughter on his Welsh enemies. But he could not undo his rival's successes. His Brecon tenants took oaths to Llywelyn, and next year his castle of Radnor also fell into the hands of the Welsh prince's partisans. Some conquests made by Edward were, however, put into his hands (Rishanger, De Bello, p. 20, Camden Soc.). His English enemies took advantage of his troubles with the Welsh to assail his English estates. The same December that witnessed the loss of the castles of Melenydd saw a fierce attack on his lands by John Giffard [q.v.] (Tewkesbury Annals, p. 179); yet he hesitated not to provoke still further the wrath of Leicester by receiving a royal grant of three marcher townships which belonged to the earl (Dunstaple Ann. in Ann. Mon. iii. 226).
Mortimer was a party to the agreement to submit the disputes of king and baron to the arbitration of St. Louis. But when Leicester repudiated St. Louis's decision, Mortimer took a most active part in sustaining the king's side. He was specially opposed by two of Leicester's sons, Henry and Simon de Montfort (ib. p. 227). But while Henry was entangled in an attack on Edward at Gloucester, Mortimer with his wild band of marauders pursued Simon to the midlands, where Mortimer took a leading part in the capture of Northampton on 5-6 April (Rishanger, Chron. p. 21, Rolls Ser.; cf. Leland, Collectanea, i. 174). At Lewes, Mortimer, with his marcher followers, succeeded in escaping the worst consequences of the defeat. They retired to Pevensey, and, on Edward and Henry of Almaine being surrendered as hostages for their good behaviour, they were allowed to march back in arms to the west (Dunstaple Ann. pp. 232-4). On reaching his own district Mortimer at once prepared for further resistance. But Llywelyn was now omnipotent in Wales, and the marchers could expect little help from England. Accordingly, in August they again entered into negotiations with the triumphant Montfort party and surrendered hostages (Rot. Pat. in B,mont, Simon de Montfort, p. 220). But in the autumn Mortimer refused to attend Montfort's council at Oxford, and he and the marchers again took arms. Montfort summoned the whole military force of England to assemble at Michaelmas at Northampton in order to complete their destruction. In the early winter Mortimer felt the full force of the assault. Leicester, taking the king with him, marched to the west, united with Llywelyn, ravaged Mortimer's estates, and penetrated as far as Montgomery (Rishanger, De Bello, pp. 35-40). So hard pressed were the marchers that they were forced to sue for peace, which they only obtained on the hard condition that those of their leaders who, like Mortimer, had abandoned the baronial for the royal side should be exiled (ib. p. 41; cf. Ann. Londin. in Stubbs, Chron. Edward I and II). Mortimer was to betake himself to Ireland.
The hard terms of surrender were never carried out. The baronial party was now breaking up, and the quarrel between Leicester and Gilbert of Clare, eighth earl of Gloucester [q.v.], gave another chance to the lords of the Welsh marches. At first Gloucester contented himself with persuading Mortimer not to go into exile, but Gloucester soon retired to the west, where he concluded a fresh confederacy with Mortimer and his party and prepared again for war. Montfort was forced to follow him, and for security brought with him the captive Edward. On 28 May 1265 Edward escaped from his captors near Hereford. The plan of escape had been prepared by Mortimer, who provided the swift horse on which Edward rode away (Hemingburgh, i. 320-1, Eng. Hist. Soc.), and who waited with a little army of followers to receive Edward in Tillington Park. Mortimer conducted Edward to Wigmore, where he entertained him (Flor. Hist. iii. 2). It was largely through Mortimer's influence that the close alliance between Edward and Gloucester was made at Ludlow. Civil war rapidly followed. Mortimer took a part only less conspicuous than those of Edward and Gloucester in the campaign that terminated at Evesham (4 Aug.), where he commanded the rear-guard of the royalist forces (Hemingburgh, i. 323). The wild ferocity of the marchers was conspicuous in the shameful mutilation inflicted on Montfort's body, and in sending the head of the great earl as a present to Mortimer's wife at Wigmore (Rishanger, De Bello, p. 46; Liber de Antiquis Legibus, p. 76; Robert of Gloucester).
Mortimer's share in the struggle was by no means ended at Evesham. Llywelyn was still very formidable, and in a battle fought on 15 May 1266 at Brecon Mortimer's force was annihilated, he alone escaping from the field (Waverley Ann. in Ann. Mon. ii. 370). But a little later in the year Mortimer took a conspicuous part in the siege of Kenilworth, commanding one of the three divisions into which the king's army was divided (Dunstaple Ann. p. 242). He now received abundant rewards for his valour. He had the custody of Hereford Castle and the sheriffdom of Herefordshire. He was made lord of Kerry and Cydowain. His chief Shropshire estate of Cleobury received franchises, which made it an independent and autonomous liberty of the marcher type (Eyton, Shropshire, iii. 40, iv. 221-2). But his greed was insatiable. The Shropshire towns began to complain of the aggressions of his court at Cleobury. Moreover, he urged that the hardest conditions should be imposed on the `Disinherited,' and sought to upset the Kenilworth compromise, fearing that any general measure of pardon might jeopardise his newly won estates. This attitude led to a violent quarrel with Gilbert of Gloucester, who in 1267 strongly took up the cause of the `Disinherited' (Rishanger, Rolls Ser., pp. 45-6, 50, De Bello, pp. 59-60; Dunstaple Ann. p. 245). But the ultimate triumph rested with Gloucester and not with Mortimer, who, moreover, was suspected of plotting Gloucester's death.
Mortimer remained for the rest of his life a close friend of Edward. When the king's son went on crusade, Mortimer was on 2 Aug. 1270 chosen with the king of the Romans, Walter, archbishop of York, and two others, as guardians of Edward's children, lands and interests, during his absence (Federa, i. 484). In 1271 he is found acting in that capacity with the archbishop, Philip Basset, and Robert Burnell (Letters from Northern Registers, p. 39; Royal Letters, ii. 346-9). Even during Henry's lifetime Edward's representatives had plenty of work to do (Letters from Northern Registers, p. 40). After Henry's death in November 1272 the three became in fact, if not in name, regents of the kingdom until Edward I's return in August 1274. Their rule was peaceful but uneventful. The turbulent lord marcher now strove with all his might to uphold the king's peace. He put down a threatened rising in the north of England (Flor. Hist. iii. 32). He succeeded in punishing Andrew, the former prior of Winchester, who violently strove to regain his position in the monastery. Mortimer did not scruple to disregard ecclesiastical privilege and imprison Andrew's abettor, the archdeacon of Rochester (Winchester Ann. in Ann. Mon. ii. 117).
Mortimer took a conspicuous part in Edward I's early struggles against Llywelyn of Wales. On 15 Nov. 1276 he was appointed Edward's captain for Shropshire, Staffordshire, Herefordshire, and the adjoining district against the Welsh (Federa, i. 537). He had some share in the campaign of 1277, being assigned to widen the roads in Wales and Bromfield to facilitate the march of the king's troops (Rotulus Walli‘, 6 Edward I, p. 10). He wrested many lands from the defeated Welsh (Cal. Patent Rolls, 1281-92, p. 171), and received from the king a grant of fifty librates of waste lands (Rotulus Walli‘, 8 Edward I, p. 17). He was still active as a justice under the king's commission (ib. pp. 9, 10, 36, 37). In 1279 Mortimer, who was now growing old, solemnly celebrated his retirement from martial exercises by giving a great feast and holding a `round table' tournament at Kenilworth, at which a hundred knights and as many ladies participated, and on which he lavished vast sums of money (Chron. Osney and Wykes in Ann. Mon. iv. 281-2; Rishanger, pp. 94-5, Rolls Ser.). The queen of Navarre, wife of Edmund of Lancaster, lord of the castle, was treated with special honour by Mortimer, though the Wigmore chronicler curiously misunderstands his acts (Monasticon, vi. 350). Mortimer was smitten with his mortal illness at Kingsland, Herefordshire, in the midst of the final campaign of Edward against Llywelyn. He was tormented about his debts to the crown, and fearing difficulties in the way of the execution of his will, obtained from Archbishop Peckham the confirmation of its provisions (Peckham, Letters, ii. 499). He died on 26 Oct. 1282 (Worcester Annals in Ann. Mon. iv. 481; cf. Osney and Wykes in Ann. Mon. iv. 290-1). On the day after his death Edward I issued from Denbigh a patent which, as a special favour `never granted to blood relation before,' declared that if Roger died of the illness from which he was suffering, his executors should not be impeded in carrying out his will by reason of his debts to the exchequer, for the payment of which the king would look to his heirs (Cal. Patent Rolls, 1281-92, pp. 38-9). Adam, abbot of Wigmore, was his chief executor. He was buried with his ancestors in the priory of Wigmore. His epitaph is given in `Monasticon,' vi. 355.
Matilda de Braose survived Mortimer for nineteen years. By her he had a numerous family. His eldest son, Ralph, who was made sheriff of Shropshire and Staffordshire during the time that Mortimer was one of the co-regents, died in 1275. Edmund I, the second son, who had been destined to the church, succeeded to his father's estates, and within six weeks of his father's death managed to entice Llywelyn of Wales to his doom. He married Margaret `de Fendles,' a kinswoman of Queen Eleanor of Castile, and generally described as a Spaniard; but she was doubtless the daughter of William de Fiennes, a Picard nobleman, who was second cousin to Eleanor through her mother, Joan, countess of Ponthieu (Notes and Queries, 4th ser., vii. 318, 437-8). This Edmund died in 1304. He was the father of Roger Mortimer, first earl of March (1287-1330) [q.v.]. The other children of Roger Mortimer and Matilda de Braose include: Roger Mortimer of Chirk (d. 1326) [q.v.], Geoffrey, William, and Isabella, who married John Fitzalan III, and was the mother of Richard Fitzalan I, earl of Arundel (1267-1302) [q.v.].

Annales Monastici (Rolls Ser.); Rishanger's Chronicle (Rolls Ser.), and Chron. de Bello (Camden Soc.); Annales Cambri‘ (Rolls Ser.); Brut y Tywysogion, ed. Rhys and J. G. Evans, and in Rolls Ser.; Flores Hist. vols. ii. and iii. (Rolls Ser.); Walter of Hemingburgh (Engl. Hist. Soc.); Rymer's Federa, vol. i., Record ed.; Shirley's Royal Letters, vol. ii. (Rolls Ser.); Rotulus Walli‘, temp. Edward I, privately printed by Sir T. Phillips; Eyton's Shropshire, especially iv. 216-23; Dugdale's Baronage, i. 141-3; Dugdale's Monasticon, vi. 350-1; Wright's Hist. of Ludlow; B,mont's Simon de Montfort; Stubbs's Const. Hist. vol. ii.; Blaauw's Barons' Wars.

Contributor: T. F. T.

published  1894
Last Modified 23 Mar 2014Created 14 May 2022 by Tim Powys-Lybbe
Re-created by Tim Powys-Lybbe on 14 May 20220