Friday, February 5, 2010

{5} Badlesmere Part 2: Marriages of 1316

Bristol Castle in 1300
[Image by artist Chris Nolan from Bristol Past]
Bartholomew Badlesmere did well in the early years of Edward II's reign. At about age 32 in 1307, he was roughly 10 years older than the new king. Badlesmere's relationship with the respected military leader Robert, Lord Clifford (they were brothers-in-law) helped him achieve the strategic appointment of constable of Bristol Castle. In addition, Badlesmere's 20-year-old wife Margaret was a Clare, first cousin to the head of the family, the 16-year-old Earl of Gloucester. This was an important link, for Gloucester was the eldest nephew of the new King, and was being allowed to come into control of his inheritance five years sooner than the traditional age of 21. The King was symbolically and literally creating a Plantagenet/Clare/Cornwall alliance by transforming the knight he trusted most in the world, Sir Piers Gaveston, into Earl of Cornwall and marrying him to Gloucester's sister Margaret de Clare. Badlesmere was made a leading retainer of Gloucester, with the hope no doubt that his seniority and kinship would provide sound advice to the teenaged earl, whose vast inheritance made him financially and territorially the second-most powerful figure in England, after the King. The early months of 1308 proved to be a bump in this Plantagenet/Clare/Cornwall alliance, for Clifford joined the Earl of Lincoln and other barons in calling for Gaveston's exile and as a result lost his post of Marshal of England in March 1308 [*1]. Badlesmere loyally followed Clifford in this opposition, but Gaveston's exile to Ireland that summer calmed the waters.
Gilbert de Clare, 7th Earl of Gloucester

By October 1308, the witnesses to a grant to Badlesmere show him firmly in the midst of Gloucester's household (among which was the knight Sir Roger Damory, who would later have a tremendous role in the Clare inheritance) [*2]. Badlesmere led bands of knights from Gloucester's company in the Scottish campaign of 1310-1311, during at least a portion of which he also acted as deputy constable of England for the Earl of Hereford, who had chosen to work on the Ordinances in London than go on the campaign in person. As a result, Badlesmere was able to enjoy direct patronage from the King, and received favours from him in December 1310 and January 1311. When Gloucester became keeper of the realm on the death of the Earl of Lincoln, Badlesmere took an active part in Gloucester's administration [*3]. Badlesmere appears to have been the steward (chief administrator) of Gloucester, and managed to amass an impressive estate spread throughout several counties as a result. Whether this can be credited to the younger earl eagerly rewarding his senior adviser, or passively rubber-stamping the plans Badlesmere had made for himself, is open for debate. I feel somehow it more likely to be the latter. Whatever the truth, Gloucester trusted Badlesmere and worked closely with him, and the trust Clifford and Edward II had placed in the baron to shepherd the Clare dynasty was being fulfilled ... until the summer of 1314, when Badlesmere made his first of two major failures in regard to the Clares.

Bannockburn was horrific for the English, leaving the king and his surviving military leaders demoralized, and chroniclers and other non-participants scrambling for divine meaning behind the defeat. For Badlesmere the day was devastating on a personal level, for not only was his lord, the Earl of Gloucester, killed, so was his dear brother and former patron, Lord Clifford. In addition, Badlesmere also received the brand of coward, and in at least one political song of the time, was held personally responsible for the death of Gloucester, fleeing the battlefield and leaving the young earl to his fate [*4]. Care should be taken when analyzing secondhand post-battle accounts: depending on which chronicle you read, Edward II himself either fled the field shamelessly, or fought hard and had to be led away. But the fact that Badlesmere achieved this reputation, whether deserved or not, would've tarnished his image enough to knights and soldiers that he wouldn't be able to command any military expedition on his own from that point forward, and indeed, he never did.
Gloucester's Death in the Battle of Bannockburn
Badlesmere, just about forty years old, was in a unique position following the battle: as chief administrator of the now-dead Gloucester, he was the figure who best knew the daily ins and outs and workings of the vast Clare inheritance. The power vacuum caused by Gloucester's death, and the effect it had on Edward II, are great enough to be topics of their own in future posts. No matter what Edward thought of Badlesmere's actions at Bannockburn, he needed the baron to maintain continuity with the Clare retainers and tenants. Gloucester's widowed countess was pregnant, and God willing, would give birth within months to a healthy baby, which, no matter the infant's sex, would keep the Clare inheritance in one piece. Badlesmere was allowed by the King to stay on and administer important parts of it [*5]. He also was made a co-administrator (with the earl of Warwick and the northern baron Henry Percy) of the Clifford inheritance, as Clifford's son (Badlesmere's nephew) was a minor.

Seven months after Bannockburn, on 2 January 1315, Edward II held the funeral of Piers Gaveston at Langley in Hertfordshire. Badlesmere was in attendance, as were the Hugh Despensers, father and son. No doubt the three men met many times in the days surrounding the burial to discuss the Clare inheritance, for the countess had yet to give birth, and Hugh the Younger was married to Gloucester's eldest sister and stood next in line for the best part of the inheritance should no baby materialize. Their biggest concern would be Gloucester's other two sisters, Margaret and Elizabeth, both young widows and now the two hottest women on the marriage market that the nobility had seen in decades. As Gaveston's widow, Margaret was firmly under the influence of her uncle the King and a fixture at his court, but Elizabeth was far away in Ireland at the court of her father-in-law the Earl of Ulster. It was vital she be sent for and join her sister in their uncle's court. It would be in this task that Badlesmere would make his second great failure regarding the Clare dynasty.

de Ros of Helmsley coat of arms
Meanwhile a few weeks later, Edward II formally agreed in Parliament to obey all of the Ordinances, meaning Thomas of Lancaster now had effective control of the government. He began replacing all royal military posts, down to the level of the county sheriffs. In July 1315, Badlesmere was replaced as administrator of Glamorgan by Payn de Turberville, but how much this was a decision made by Lancaster as opposed to Edward II is not clear. The decision may simply have been made to focus Badlesmere on the northern marches, for he was sent along with the Earl of Pembroke (who was the same age as Badlesmere and would become a close ally) to organize the defenses of the northern march against Scotland from July to October 1315. It was in this capacity that Badlesmere first arranged a marriage for one of his children, that of his eldest daughter Margery. One of the leaders in the defense of the northern march was the elderly (then about age 60) Yorkshire baron William de Ros. He was too old for military service, but his son and heir John de Ros (who was probably Badlesmere's age or a bit younger) was an active knight, who would be made a banneret in the royal household of Edward II on 20 November 1315 [*6], likely on the recommendation of Pembroke and Badlesmere. Sir John de Ros in turn had a son and heir, William, who was about the same age as Badlesmere's daughter Margery, and so a marriage was arranged between the two families. The Ros dynasty was influential in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, and would increase Badlesmere's influence in the northern marches. Later in the 14th century, the Lords Ros were Lancastrian retainers, but whether this was the case in 1315 is not clear. If so, the marriage may also have been an attempt by Badlesmere to enter the circle of Thomas of Lancaster, still holding the reins of power.
Elizabeth de Burgh, Lady of Clare

By the summer of 1315, while Badlesmere was on Pembroke's campaign in the northern marches, it would have been clear to everyone that the countess of Gloucester was not going to provide the longed-for heir. As Christmas approached, Thomas of Lancaster, who hated Hugh the Elder and had removed both Despensers from the royal household back in January, was continuing to prevent either from having any access to the King. Elizabeth de Burgh, Lady of Clare was ordered to leave Ireland and come to court. All hell had broken loose in Glamorgan due to the actions of Badlesmere's replacement there, Payn de Turberville. On top of it all, Bristol was becoming an issue Badlesmere was unable to control on his own. Then, as if to symbolize the crumbling of Badlesmere's stewardship abilities, Elizabeth de Clare, newly-arrived from Ireland, was abducted from Bristol Castle by Theobald de Verdun in January 1316. Whatever plans the King had been forming regarding the Clare inheritance had now been thwarted. Badlesmere had failed the Clare dynasty in a major way once again.

The poor baron had to work on damage control, and insure that he had influential figures watching the interests of his own back, and that of his family. The best way would be to align himself sacredly to them through marriage, as he had done with Lord Ros. Badlesmere's next two daughters, Maud, born about 1310, and Elizabeth, born about 1313, were both beneath the canonical age of marriage (which was age 7 for consent, and age 12 for consummation), but desperate times called for desperate measures. Badlesmere could be expected to move to strengthen his alliances with the earls of Pembroke and Hereford through marriage, but Pembroke was childless and Badlesmere was apparently not in the position, socially or economically, to approach Hereford for the hand of one of his half-royal children [*7]. Luckily, Badlesmere was included in the February 1316 expedition to Glamorgan to put down the rebellion of Llewellyn Bren, where he had the opportunity to initiate an alliance with one of the most powerful dynasties in the marches of Wales.
Wigmore Castle, Herefordshire

On 2 May 1316 in London, Badlesmere contracted with Robert, Lord FitzPayn, for the marriage of FitzPayn's son and heir, also named Robert, aged about ten [*8], to Badlesmere's six-year-old daughter Maud. It was agreed that Lord FitzPayn would provide Maud with a dower of 200 marks’ worth of land, and that he would not grant out any of his land, save £200 worth, without Badlesmere’s permission. Badlesmere agreed to pay FitzPayn 1,200 marks in instalments as the marriage portion, and to keep Maud in his own custody for a year after the marriage. FitzPayn also agreed to enter into a recognizance (formally entered into on 16 July 1316) to Badlesmere for 20,000 marks to guarantee the marriage (which took place by October 1316, when Maud was formally assigned her dower by FitzPayn) [*9]. One week later, on 9 May 1316, also in London, Badlesmere contracted with Roger, Lord Mortimer of Wigmore, for the marriage of Mortimer's thirteen-year-old son and heir, Edmund, to Badlesmere's three-year-old daughter Elizabeth. Mortimer would provide Elizabeth with a dower of 500 marks' worth of land (300 coming from manors under his control, with the other 200 coming from manors after the death of Mortimer's mother Margaret). Badlesmere agreed to pay Mortimer 2,000 marks as the marriage portion, and entered into a recognizance of 20,000 marks to guarantee the marriage, which took place at the Mortimer manor of Ernwood in Shropshire on 27 June 1316. Badlesmere was with the king throughout June and so did not attend, but Mortimer hosted the nuptials with several officials, including the king's knights William de Montagu and Roger Damory, and Badlesmere's nephews Bartholomew and Henry Burghersh [*10].

Badlesmere's reasons for the alliance with Lord FitzPayn remain obscure. The FitzPayn barony was in Dorset, the chief seat being the manor of Okeford Fitzpaine. The estate stretched into Somerset and Wiltshire, but remained localized in those three counties. Badlesmere would have gotten to know Lord FitzPayn's father on the Scottish campaigns of the early 1300s, and especially when Lord FitzPayn senior served as steward of Edward II's household from March 1308 to December 1310.
FitzPayn coat of arms
But compared to the Lords Mortimer of Wigmore, and even the Lords Ros, the FitzPayns of Okeford were small potatoes. Lord FitzPayn's father had died in August 1315, and he himself appeared at Edward II's court in November that year to pay homage and receive his father's lands. Since Maud, Badlesmere's elder available daughter, was given to the FitzPayns despite the fact that the Mortimers were more powerful and had an heir older in age, its likely the FitzPayn marriage had been initiated before the Mortimer one. It may have been the new Lord FitzPayn who approached Badlesmere for it, perhaps in need of money that the wealthy Badlesmere could provide. At any rate, Badlesmere clearly had the upper hand in the alliance. Lord FitzPayn was summoned for military service (but not to Council or Parliament) in February 1316, and if he joined the Llewellyn Bren campaign that month, its likely the marriage alliance with Badlesmere was already in the works at that point. The marriage would ultimately prove tragic for the FitzPayns. Lord FitzPayn held to the marriage alliance and followed Badlesmere into rebellion and the baronial camp in the 1321-22 civil war. But he may have done so reluctantly, as he was back in the King's favor by May 1322. However, it was too late. His son Robert FitzPayn, the teenaged husband of Maud Badlesmere, was killed at Boroughbridge, leaving both his father and young Maud childless [*11].

Ian Mortimer surmises that the advantages Roger Mortimer of Wigmore obtained by marrying his heir to Badlesmere's toddler-aged daughter "were not so much military as political" (p. 78), and financial. It was Badlesmere's position at court and great wealth which attracted the then cash-poor Lord Mortimer. If so, Badlesmere certainly got his money's worth: an alliance with a powerful Marcher lord and the muscle of an acclaimed military captain. The payoff was immediate: Mortimer joined Badlesmere on the Bristol campaign and took the military lead. Hopefully Kathryn Warner will have a post with full details of the Bristol incident at a future date. Meanwhile, the Wheel of Fortune would turn little Elizabeth Badlesmere around several times in the next few years, her fate intertwined with those of her father and of her new father-in-law.

[1] Conway Davies, The Baronial Opposition to Edward II (1918), p. 208, citing Cal. Patent Rolls 1307-13, p. 51, as his source.
[2] Kathryn Warner, "The Rise and Fall of a Royal Favourite: Roger Damory (1)", January 2010.
[3] Davies, Baronial Opposition to Edward II, pp. 427-428.
[4] Many thanks to Kathryn Warner for providing details of the political song. The author of the Vita Edwardi Secundi states Gloucester was abandoned to death by his knights, but doesn't name Badlesmere specifically.
[5] Ian Mortimer, in his 2006 book, The Greatest Traitor: The Life of Sir Roger Mortimer, Ruler of England 1327-30, pp. 73-74, states Badlesmere was the overseer of the lordship of Glamorgan until July 1315, but unfortunately doesn't cite his source for this. It's likely Badlesmere was initially overseeing much more of the inheritance than just Glamorgan, but more research is needed.
[6] Colm McNamee,
"Ros, William de, first Lord Ros (c.1255–1316)," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004). Complete Peerage says only that William de Ros and Margery Badlesmere were married by December 1316. As eldest daughter though, her marriage would necessarily have been arranged before those of her sisters in May 1316. It likely was not arranged until after the birth of Badlesmere's son and heir Giles in October 1314, for until that point, Margery was Badlesmere's senior coheiress. So Badlesmere's time on the northern march in 1315 seems the likeliest time. Curiously, Sir John de Ros would be attacked a few months later by Hugh Despenser the Younger at the Lincoln Parliament of February 1316.
[7] "Item, to Monsire Bartholomew de Badlesmere the black charger which I brought from beyond the sea." From Hereford's August 1319 will, as translated by Melville M. Bigelew in "The Bohun Wills", American Historical Review, Volume 1 Number 3 (April 1896), pp. 422-426. Though Hereford thought enough of Badlesmere to bequeath him a warhorse (the only bequest to any earl or baron in Hereford's entire will) and had five young unmarried sons, no marriage alliance occurred in their lifetimes. Ironically, Badlesmere's daughter Elizabeth would eventually marry Hereford's son William, but not until 1335, and for far a different reason.
[8] As Lord FitzPayn was found to be aged 28 and more, or 30 and more, in the inquisitions taken in September and October 1315 following his father's death, so born about 1285/6, his son and heir was likely born about 1305/6.
[9] Michael Prestwich, Plantagenet England 1225-1360 (2005), p. 415. A portion of the original document (Harl. Charter, 45, F 11, in Anglo-Norman French), was transcribed by George Wentworth Watson in Complete Peerage, Volume V (1926), p. 454 n. a (sub FitzPayn).
[10] Mortimer, The Greatest Traitor, pp. 77-79; George A. Holmes, The Estates of the Higher Nobility in Fourteenth Century England (1957), pp. 43-44.
[11] Watson, Complete Peerage Vol. V, pp. 448-455 (sub FitzPayn). Watson has young Robert FitzPayn dead before 10 December 1322, and surmises he may have been killed in the rout at Byland Abbey on 14 October. But as Robert was buried at the Grey Friars church in York, where the Earl of Hereford was buried after Boroughbridge, and given the fact that Lord FitzPayn had his lands restored to him by the King on 30 May, it's more likely that Badlesmere's son-in-law was killed with Hereford at Boroughbridge.


  1. Goodness what an action packed, fabulous fact soaked blog post that was. Brad, you are an asset to blogland and medieval genealogists all over the world. On behalf of them.... Thank you!

  2. I echo Kate's comments! A wonderfully detailed post and a joy to read.

    The Bristol situation in 1316 actually is far more complex than I'd originally thought, as I've found references to 'dissent' between Badlesmere and the townspeople as far back as 1312, and in 1313 Edward II took the town under his protection and, as far as I can remember, also ordered Badlesmere and the earl of Gloucester not to attack the town. I hope to get a blog post up about all this at some point, but it might take a little while! I've been researching the abduction of Badlesmere's sister-in-law Maud Clifford in 1315 lately, and will put up a post about that on the blog in the next day or two.

    Badlesmere was granted custody of Glamorgan and 'Morgannou' on 14 Sept 1314 (taking over from Ingelram Berenger, one of Hugh Despenser the Elder's knights, appointed on 13 July), and was replaced by Payn Turberville on 8 July 1315: Fine Rolls 1307-1319, pp. 201, 204, 208, 213, 253, 260.

  3. Heh, I stick to my Romans. The 14th century is too much of a mess. :)

    But fun to read about. Thanks to Kathryn's blog, I've gotten a grasp on Edward and his court by now, and your blog is a welcome addition.

  4. Kate, thank you for the very kind words. I'm enjoying blogland very much! By the way, which two of Badlesmere's daughters do you descend from?

    Kathryn, thank you for the dates of Badlesmere gaining and losing custody of Glamorgan! Very interesting that the Despensers had their man placed there immediately after Gloucester was killed. Then, in September, when Edward II was meeting with Thomas of Lancaster and other barons at York, Badlesmere is placed there. It makes me believe that Lancaster's hatred of the Despensers was the primary reason for the delay in the partition of the Clare inheritance, and also for Hugh the Younger's increasingly desperate behavior surrounding it. It will be fun to look into that further.

    I'm looking forward to your piece on Maud Clifford, and eventual one on Badlesmere and Bristol Castle!

    Gabriele, welcome! I know nothing about the Romans other than the movies 'Spartacus' (the Kirk Douglas one) and 'Gladiator', so look forward to your perspective on, as Merlin puts it in Disney's 'The Sword in the Stone', "one big medieval mess!"

  5. Hi Brad

    I descend from Margery [de Ros] via her daughter Alice and Maud [de Vere] via her daughter Margaret. I am stuck in the 16th century researching another line at the moment, deciphering old wills etc. [FUN!] and I Iove reading about the medieval period to take my mind off how a fishmonger ancestor of mine could leave an estate of £6000 in about 1565. He sounds like a wheeler and dealer to me! Thanks for the research!

  6. Quite an interesting post. I just discovered your blog, but am familiar with your occasional posts in SGM.

    Badlesmere is also an ancestor of mine, via his daughters Margery, Maud and Elizabeth.

    I have a blog on the subject of the Plantagenets, though perhaps only occasionally do I rise to your level of scholarship! You might like this particular entry:

    Kevin Bradford

  7. Hi everybody, here is a new novel about King Edward II of England, and a website dedicated to an exciting new archival research project aimed at discovering the truth about how he really died. The novel comes highly recommended by Kathryn Warner.
    Please also take a look to the book trailer :) thank you: