The career of Roger Mortimer, first earl of March (c.1287-1330)
By Paul Richard Dryburgh
PhD Dissertation, University of Bristol, 2002
Abstract: This dissertation aims to re-assess aristocratic political culture in England during the early fourteenth century. It shifts the stress from a traditional Anglo-centric focus on baronial opposition to Edward II, to analysing the impact of renascent Scottish militarism, its ramifications in Ireland and Wales, and English attempts to maintain the hegemony established by Edward I across the British Isles. This is achieved by an examination of the career of an individual whose importance to such debates, though widely overlooked, is pivotal.
Roger Mortimer is one of the most enigmatic and influential figures in the history of the medieval British Isles. Lord of Wigmore on the Welsh marches, his career witnessed both loyal service to the person of the king and outright rebellion against it, even marshalling the resistance that precipitated the unprecedented deposition of an anointed English sovereign. An examination of Mortimer’s strategies for prosperity and survival is attempted. Moreover, Mortimer enjoyed a landed inheritance spanning the Irish Sea, and showed a consistent desire to defend his Irish estates in person at a time of disengagement in transmarine landholding by the English aristocratic elite. This thesis examines such patterns of lordship in detail and will attempt to show the correlation between Mortimer’s transmarine lordship and the increasing prominence he achieved in curial and national affairs.
Focus on the career of Roger Mortimer, above all his contemporaries, may reveal the realities of aristocratic politics during the early fourteenth century, for, alongside his lover, queen Isabella, he attained unprecedented access to the levers of political power. A straightforward analysis of his regime is accompanied by a demonstration that, even though the court dictated political life, Roger Mortimer was able to extend his influence across the British Isles and pose a serious threat to the kingship of Edward III.