Roger de Mortemer


Wigmore Castle - engraved by Samuel and Nathaniel Buck 1732
from "Views of Ruins of Castles & Abbeys in England, Part 2, 1726-1739

Roger de Mortemer, a general in chief command of a division of Duke William’s in 1054 was sent along with Hugh de Montfort, Hugh de Gourney, William Crispin, Robert Compte d’Eu and Walter Gifford to oppose the forces of Count Eudes, brother of Henry I, King of France. The French were nearly all killed or taken prisoners. One of the few who escaped was Eudes, the King's brother; but Guy, Count of Ponthieu, was taken prisoner, and his brother Waleran slain. Ralph de Mortdidier fighting on the side of the French managed to escape and took refuge in the Castle of Mortemer. Roger, who had previously sworn fealty to Count Ralph, and was married to his daughter, gave him safe conduct back to his own territories, for which act Roger was banished from Normandy and his property was confiscated. He was later restored to his lands with the exception of the Castle of Mortemer which went to William de Warren.

“Who with three other knights, the sires of Auvilier, Onebec, and St. Cier, charged a body of English who had fallen back on a rising ground, and overthrew many.”

Roger de Mortemer contributed sixty vessels to the Dukes fleet and his son Ralph, after his father’s death was found in possession of one hundred and twenty three manors, several hamlets and the castle of Wigmore that had been built by William Fitz-Osbern, Earl of Hereford. In 1088 we find Ralph in arms against William Rufus, having joined the movement of Bishop Odo in favour of Robert Court-heuse, and with the assistance of the Welsh doing much mischief in Worcestershire and on the Welsh borders. Two years afterwards, having been restored to the King's favour, he, with Robert, Comte d'Eu, and Walter Giffard, fortified his castle in Normandy against Court-heuse, and continued apparently true to his English overlord from that period on. --

Ralph de Mortimer

Ralph de Mortimer, supposed to have been son of the famous Norman general, Roger de Mortimer, and to have been related to the Conqueror, held a principal command at the battle of Hastings; and, shortly after, as the most puissant of the victor's captains, was sent into the Marches of Wales to encounter Edric, Earl of Shrewsbury, who still resisted the Norman yoke. This nobleman, after much difficulty and a long seige in his castle of Wigmore, Mortimer subdued, and delivered into the king's hands; when, in requital of his food services, he obtained a grant of all Edric's estates, and seated himself at Wigmore. Thus arose, in England, the illustrious house of Mortimer, destined to occupy the most prominent place on the roll of the Plantagenet nobility, and to transmit to the royal line of York a right to the diadem of England, which, after the desolating contests of the Roses, triumphed to the person of Edward, Earl of March, who ascended the throne as fourth of his name. Roger, Lord Mortimer of Wigmore, so notorious in our histories as the paramour of Queen Isabel, was grandson of Roger Mortimer, the illustrious adherent of Henry III. in the baronial war, to whom Prince Edward was indebted for his deliverance from captivity after the battle of Lewes. The exploit is thus recorded by Dugdale: "Seeing his Sovereign in this great distress, and nothing but ruin and misery attending himself, and all other the king's loyal subjects, he took no rest till he had contrived some way for their deliverance; and to that end sent a swift horse to the prince, then prisoner with the King in the castle of Hereford, with intimation that be should obtain leave to ride out for recreation, into a place called Widmersh; and that upon sight of a person mounted on a white horse, at the foot of Tulington Hill, and waving his bonnet (which was the Lord of Croft, as it was said), he should haste towards him with all possible speed. Which being accordingly done (though all the country thereabouts were thither called to prevent his escape), setting spurs to that horse, he overwent them all. Moreover, that being come to the park of Tulington, this Roger met him with five hundred armed men; and seeing many to pursue, chased them back to the gates of Hereford, making great slaughter amongst them." At the ignominious death, on the common gallows, of Roger Mortimer, Queen Isabel's favourite, his earldom of March became forfeited, but was restored to his grandson, Roger, Lord Mortimer, a warrior of distinction and a Knight of the Garter. His son and successor, Edmund, Earl of March, espoused the Lady Philippa Plantagenet, daughter and heiress of Lionel, Duke of Clarence, and dying in 1381 (being then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland), left with two daughters, the elder, Elizabeth, wife of the gallant Hotspur, three sons, the eldest of whom, Roger, fourth Earl of March, was father of the Lady Anne Mortimer, who wedded Richard Plantagenet, Earl of Cambridge, and conveyed to the house of York the right to the Crown of England. --(Battle Roll).

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