24 January, 2010

The Rise and Fall of a Royal Favourite: Roger Damory (1)

Part one of a post about Roger Damory, the most prominent of Edward II's court favourites between about 1315 and 1319, who wielded influence completely out of proportion to his rank and position and became one of the richest men in England - yet died in rebellion against Edward. I wrote a post about Roger several years ago, but given that far more people hit this blog searching for him than I would ever have imagined (maybe because lots of people are descended from him?) and that readers are still leaving comments on the old post, I thought I'd write another one with some more info about him. Roger was, by the way, the ancestor of Walt Disney, Richard III's friend Francis Lovell, and Henry Norris, executed in 1536 supposedly for committing adultery with Queen Anne Boleyn.

Roger Damory was the son of Sir Robert Damory of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, who was the son of another Roger Damory and a fairly obscure knight who went on crusade in 1270, travelled overseas with Edmund, earl of Cornwall (Edward I's first cousin) in 1280 and sometimes witnessed Edmund's charters, and died shortly after 12 July 1285. The identity of Roger's mother is unfortunately uncertain, though apparently she was called [redacted]. [1]  Roger had an older brother named Richard, who was summoned for military service in 1297 and appointed keeper of the peace in Oxfordshire in 1300. [2] Even the approximate date of Roger Damory's birth is unknown, but given that his brother was old enough to be summoned for military service in 1297 and that their father died in 1285, it seems likely that he was some years older than Edward II (born April 1284). Their name - which technically should be 'd'Amory' - was spelt in a variety of ways: Dammory, Daumari, de Aumary, Damori, Damery, Dammary, Daumary, de Almary and so on. (Just to make it difficult for people like me 700 years later trying to find information about them.) The family can be traced back at least to 1138 and possibly to 1086.

The author of the Vita Edwardi Secundi described Roger as a "poor and needy knight." [3] A younger son and thus not his father's heir, Roger joined the retinue of Edward II's nephew Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester, who granted him the manor of Easton for life, and first appears on record in 1306, when he was named as a knight of Buckinghamshire. [4] Roger can surely hardly have imagined that one day he would rise high enough to marry Gloucester's sister. In the early years of Edward II's reign, Roger's brother Richard was far more prominent than Roger was, being appointed sheriff of Berkshire and Oxfordshire and constable of Oxford Castle. One of the few references to Roger I've found dates to July 1309, when he and about twenty other men were said to have besieged Thomas de la Hyde, sheriff of Cornwall, in the house of the parson of St Columb Major, assaulted him, tried to kill him and 'forcibly rescued' some cattle de la Hyde had seized from 'certain stannery-men' who owed the king a hundred pounds. Finally, one of the keepers of the peace for the county, with the posse comitatus, rescued the sheriff. [5] In October 1308, Roger witnessed a grant of lands in Northamptonshire to Bartholomew Badlesmere, also a retainer of the earl of Gloucester, who would later become a very important figure in Edward II's household. [6] Richard Damory granted his younger brother the Oxfordshire manor of Bletchingdon for life in August 1313, excepting its park, "a certain house near the court" and four acres of meadow, which he kept for himself. [7]

Roger would probably have remained an obscure knight for the rest of his life with few other concerns beyond 'forcibly rescuing' the cattle of stannery-men, but the battle of Bannockburn in June 1314, when his lord the earl of Gloucester was killed, changed his fortunes forever. Unlike Bartholomew Badlesmere, accused of cowardice during the battle and of abandoning the young earl to his fate - a contemporary poem says venomously that "this traitor deserves to be put to the rack" for his actions - Roger fought bravely in the battle, which brought him to Edward II's attention. The king transferred him into his own service. Probably the first sign that Roger was rising in Edward's favour comes in late December 1314/early January 1315, when the king appointed him constable of Knaresborough Castle in Yorkshire, formerly Piers Gaveston's, but also ordered him to stay at court with him - both of which happened around the time of Piers' funeral, coincidentally or not. [8] It was at the end of 1315, however, when Roger's rise in the king's affections really becomes apparent. A large number of grants of manors, money and appointments, and gifts to others which Edward granted at Roger's request, began then and continued regularly throughout 1316 and 1317: Roger was appointed keeper of the castles of Corfe, Gloucester and St Briavels as well as Knaresborough, of the Forests of Dean and Purbeck and the lands of the late Theobald de Verdon, and also "keeper of the king's venison" in various chases and parks. He was rich enough by late 1318/early 1319 to be able to lend £500 to the sheriff of Yorkshire; seven men acknowledged in July 1319 that they owed him £2420. By the time of his death in 1322, he owned "a vessel of gold and silver" valued at £141, fourteen shillings and fourpence, and Edward II supposedly owed him over £8000.

Roger went on the campaign against Llywelyn Bren in early 1316, for which he received a payment of £100, and Edward granted him 200 marks a year in January 1317 to "maintain himself more fittingly in the king's service." A March 1317 grant to him of the lands late of one Roger Willoughby mentions Roger's "good service against the Scots at Strivelyn" (Stirling, i.e. Bannockburn), and Edward shortly afterwards gave him "the king's houses at Brokenwharf in the city of London." [9] In addition to all the lands and positions he granted Roger, an infatuated Edward gave him many splendid presents, including a silver-gilt chalice "with the cross engraved in the foot and six enamelled knots in the centre," an altar "of black stone ornamented in the circumference with silver and gilded," an ivory image of the Virgin and Child, and a magnificent cross of ivory and cedar "painted with four images standing on each side…and round the base six images of ivory, painted, standing in tabernacles." Queen Isabella gave her husband's favourite further splendid gifts for his chapel: a chasuble of red 'Tarse' cloth "sprinkled with diverse flowers of Indian colour, together with alb and amesse, stole and maniple, and two frontals of the same sort." [10]

The nature of Roger Damory's relationship with Edward II is unknown and unknowable, and I won't speculate about it here but leave it to the reader to form their own opinion. At any rate, the king rewarded Roger in late April or early May 1317 with one of the greatest prizes at his disposal: marriage to his widowed niece Elizabeth (de Clare) de Burgh - an astonishingly good match for an obscure country knight and younger son. (Wonder if Roger's brother Richard - whom Edward appointed "keeper of the body of my lord Sir Edward, earl of Chester," the future Edward III - was pleased for him or envious?) The marriage produced a single child, Elizabeth Damory, born shortly before 23 May 1318 when Edward gave Roger's messenger John de Pyrro a whopping twenty pounds for bringing him news of his little great-niece's birth. [11] This match to Elizabeth de Burgh instantly made Roger one of the richest men in the realm with lands in England, Wales (including the lordship of Usk) and Ireland - Elizabeth's third of her brother the earl of Gloucester's inheritance, and her dower and jointure lands. With his control of his wife's vast wealth and the king's favour, Roger's influence knew no bounds.

However, things were not all plain sailing at court. If Edward II had been a decent judge of character, Roger's prominent position and influence might not have been such a big problem - but as we all know, Edward was no judge of character, and was unable besides to distinguish between good and bad, i.e. self-interested, advice. Roger and his fellow court favourites - or rather, rivals - Hugh Audley and William Montacute hated and feared Thomas, earl of Lancaster, Edward II's cousin and great enemy, and went out of their way to anger him: at a meeting of the king's council at the palace of Clarendon in the spring of 1317, the three of them publicly condemned Lancaster as a traitor. [12] Lancaster suspected them, correctly or not, of arranging the earl of Surrey's abduction of his wife Alice in May 1317, and demanded that Edward expel them from court; he wrote to the king to complain that his companions were "not suitable to stay beside you or in your service…but you have held them dearer than they ever were before….every day you give them of your substance, so that little or nothing remains to you." [13] Pope John XXII often wrote to Edward in 1317 and 1318 about his extravangance and much else which concerned the pontiff, and advised the king to "remove those friends whose youth and imprudence injure the affairs of the realm." [14] Edward ignored him, and responded abruptly to his cousin Lancaster "I will avenge the despite done to the earl when I can; I refuse to expel my household; for the abduction of his wife let him seek a remedy in law only." [15] Lancaster continued to demand that Damory, Audley and Montacute be expelled from court, and the lands Edward had granted them taken away. Of course, the three men had no intention of allowing Lancaster to diminish their vast influence over Edward, and they selfishly counselled the king to remain hostile to his cousin; the Vita says they "intrigued against the earl as best they could," while the Flores Historiarum calls them "men who stir up discord and many problems for the kingdom daily attending the lord king, continually supporting his arrogance and lawless designs." [16]

Edward II spent the early autumn of 1317 in York, and left for London at the beginning of October. Instead of doing the sensible thing and ignoring the earl of Lancaster as he passed through Pontefract, where Lancaster mostly resided, Edward stupidly took it into his head - although he had promised a few days earlier not to take any hostile action against his cousin - to command his men to take up arms and attack him. The king told the earl of Pembroke "I have been told that the earl of Lancaster is lying in ambush, and is diligently preparing to catch us all by surprise." [17] It was probably Roger Damory who had done this, persuading Edward, in his own selfish interests, that the earl posed a threat to Edward and that he should attack him first. (Professor Seymour Phillips has speculated that Roger and the king's other court favourites hoped that Lancaster would commit treason and thus forfeit his vast lands to the Crown, which, as the king's close friends, would almost certainly profit them immensely.) [18] Fortunately for the stability of the kingdom, the earl of Pembroke managed to convince Edward - who tended to believe and act on whatever the last person had told him - that Lancaster did not intend to attack him.

It was almost exactly at this same time that Lancaster's retainer Sir John Lilburn seized Knaresborough Castle on the earl's behalf, and by early November 1317 Lancaster had also forcibly gained possession of Alton Castle in Staffordshire. Not at all coincidentally, Roger Damory was the custodian of both. Clearly, Lancaster saw Damory as his chief enemy at court, and determined to attack him -and the king's near-attack on Pontefract can only have emphasised the danger Roger posed to him. Edward II ineffectually sent out orders to various sheriffs to retake the castles and commanded Lancaster to "desist completely from these proceedings," while Roger spent over £55 at Knaresborough "in making new engines and hoardings and repairing old ones for besieging the said John [Lilburn] and his accomplices, and for carriage thereof from divers places to the siege..." In the end, Lilburn didn't surrender Knaresborough to the king until late January 1318. [19] Edward's chief priority, as ever, was the safety and well-being of his friends, and he took Roger's lands in Yorkshire, Herefordshire and Lincolnshire into his own hands on 18 October 1317 in an attempt to protect Damory from his cousin's aggression, also ordering a clerk to remove Roger's stud-farm, and his own, from Knaresborough to Burstwick. He restored the lands to him on 2 December, assuming the danger from Lancaster was past. [20]

The second part of this post about the eventful life of Roger Damory, where he's accused by the earl of Lancaster of trying to kill him, then goes from being Edward II's great favourite to his enemy and Lancaster's ally, and much else besides, will follow soon!


1) Inquisitions and Assessments relating to Feudal Aids 1284-1431.
2) C. Moor, Knights of Edward I; Calendar of Patent Rolls 1292-1301.
3) N. Denholm-Young, ed., Vita Edwardi Secundi.
4) Frances Underhill, For Her Good Estate: The Life of Elizabeth de Burgh, p. 20; G. A. Holmes, The Estates of the Higher Nobility in Fourteenth-Century England, p. 74; Juliet Barker, The Tournament in England 1100-1400, pp. 194-195.
5) Cal Pat Rolls 1307-1313.
6) Calendar of Close Rolls 1307-1313.
7) Cal Close Rolls 1318-1323; Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous 1308-1348; The National Archives.
8) Calendar of Fine Rolls 1307-1319; TNA.
9) Cal Pat Rolls 1313-1317; Cal Pat Rolls 1317-1321; Cal Pat Rolls 1338-1340; Cal Fine Rolls 1307-1319; Cal Fine Rolls 1327-1337; Cal Close Rolls 1313-1318; Cal Close Rolls 1318-1313; Calendar of Chancery Warrants 1244-1326; Calendar of Charter Rolls 1300-1326.
10) Cal Pat Rolls 1327-1330.
11) Thomas Stapleton, ‘A Brief Summary of the Wardrobe Accounts of the tenth, eleventh, and fourteenth years of King Edward the Second’, Archaeologia, 26 (1836).
12) Vita; H. R. Luard, ed., Flores Historiarum.
13) G. O. Sayles, The functions of the medieval Parliament of England.
14) Calendar of Papal Letters 1305-1341.
15) Vita, Flores.
17) Vita.
18) J. R. S. Phillips, 'The "Middle Party" and the Negotiating of the Treaty of Leake, August 1318: A Reinterpretation', Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, 46 (1973).
19) Cal Pat Rolls 1317-1321; Cal Close Rolls 1313-1318; Stapleton, 'Brief Summary'; Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous 1308-1348; Cal Close Rolls 1318-1323; Cal Fine Rolls 1307-1319.
20) Cal Pat Rolls 1317-1321.


Anerje said...

I think of Damory as 'sloppy seconds' for Ed after missing Piers so badly. Yes, I know I'm mean:> Such a shame he could not show the same loyalty as Piers. After all Edward had done for him, with his marriage in particular, it seems hard to believe Damory turned against him. Even if he was among other favs, he had done remarkably well considering his station.

Gabriele Campbell said...

Heh, but I doubt that Lancaster was any less selfish than the rest of the lot. He was just a bit sneakier about it. :)

Susan Higginbotham said...

No Roger Damory, no Mickey Mouse? A sobering thought.

Clement Glen said...

Another fascinating post Alianore.

I never knew that Walt Disney had roots in the court of Edward II. I wonder if Damory ever met Robyn Hod, Edward's porter of the royal chamber?

Kathryn Warner said...

Anerje: LOL! :) Roger did get some criticism from chroniclers for turning against Ed (though not from others) - I'll put it in the next post.

Gabriele: oh, you're sooo right - Lanc could have won prizes for selfishness. ;)

Susan: weird thought, isn't it?

Clement: thanks! I'd really like to think that Roger met Robyn because that would be brilliant, though he (Roger) died in 1322 - but maybe!

Brad Verity said...

Great detail on an important figure in Edward II's life - I'm looking forward to reading Part Two! I feel Elizabeth de Burgh had a tremendous influence in turning Damory against her uncle the King. She had a strong independent streak (like her elder sister Eleanor), and a fierce sense of pride in her heritage (like all the Clare siblings). That she avoided marriage to Damory in 1316 by running off with Theobald, Lord Verdun, is an impressive display of female independence (in a reign full of such displays, which makes it fascinating to study). Verdun's death was an (unexpected?) boon to Edward (I wouldn't rule out foul play there - the Clare inheritance was right up there with the Lancaster inheritance and the throne itself in sheer power. I can easily see Damory and Edward plotting to remove the presumptuous Verdun from the scene). Elizabeth was then married off as soon as possible to Damory. My copy of Underhill's bio of her is in storage, but IIRC, it was mere days after she emerged from churching after the birth of her one child by Verdun, which indicates that extreme haste and extreme pressure was placed on the young widowed heiress. Damory's lineage was quite inferior compared to the lineages of her first two husbands, and would have been viewed as an insult to the Clare heritage by everyone at court, especially Elizabeth. So Damory was marrying a fairly hostile, anti-Edward woman, who could easily encourage her husband's transition to the opposition once Despenser the Younger knocked Damory off his pedestal.

Kathryn Warner said...

Thank you for the fascinating comments, Brad! Unfortunately the date of Roger and Eliz's wedding isn't recorded, but might have been 28 April 1317 at Windsor when Audley married Marg de Clare, and they were certainly married by 3 May, as an entry on the Patent Roll calls Eliz Roger's wife on that date. As you say, it must have taken place within days of her churching. Underhill says that Ed and Damory visited Eliz at Amesbury, presumably to get her to marry him, and judging by Ed's itinerary, that visit must have taken place when she was heavily pregnant with Verdon's daughter or before her churching.

There's a letter in the Nat. Archives that Ed II wrote to Eliz even before Verdon's funeral (in Sept 1316, I think), putting pressure on her to marry Roger Damory and calling her his favourite niece (a lie!) Verdon's sudden death 5 months after the illicit wedding does seem terribly convenient, doesn't it.

Brad Verity said...

That EdwII letter to Elizabeth needs to be translated into modern English - it would be wonderful to read! My hat is off to anyone with the ability to decipher the medieval documents in the National Archives. It's way beyond my ability.

The Clare inheritance can be seen as the greatest opportunity Edward was given by Fate in his entire reign. Lancaster had to have been in a panic. And Edward, to his credit, played it brilliantly. He had widowed niece Margaret de Gaveston by his side at court throughout 1315 & 1316, parading her in front of the household knights as a prize for the most loyal. Elizabeth de Burgh was ordered to return from Ireland to serve the same purpose, but unluckily (for Edward) outmaneuvered him by partnering with Lord Verdun, Ireland's Justiciar and one of the more powerful English barons.

As the more compliant niece (and beloved Piers' widow), I'm certain Margaret was given first choice by the King and eldest sister Eleanor (who was probably the first person Edward seduced into his camp after Gloucester's death at Bannockburn - easy since she had been long at court as a lady-in-waiting) between the two husband candidates, Audley and Damory. That Margaret chose Audley and Elizabeth tried to move heaven and earth to avoid Damory speaks volumes about his appeal to the ladies.

But all was how Edward wanted it by mid-spring 1317. The power of two-thirds of the Clare inheritance was now firmly in his camp, with only Eleanor's third shaky, as her irritating husband Hugh was a wild card. Lancaster's making him Edward's household steward indicates Hugh was maintaining an independent stance and avoiding the King's camp, or at least giving Lancaster the idea that was so.

The initial moves by Despenser in Wales, against Audley, in particular, indicate he may have made a pact with Lancaster to do what he could to break up Edward's Clare camp. At this point, the relationship of the three sisters was the only glue Edward had to hold the Clare inheritance in his camp, and that clearly wasn't proving strong enough. He needed to do something to get Despenser on his side.

The Edward/Hugh Despenser mutual seduction of 1317-1318 has to be one for the record books, whether sexually consummated or not. Despenser clearly had something that Audley and Damory did not, for they were expected to sit down and shut up in Clare camp.

The treatment of the two 'traitor' Clare sisters after Edward and the Despensers triumphed in 1322, demonstrates where they stood. Margaret, though allowed to successfully plead for her husband's life, was stripped of any and all landed power, and sent to pray away her sins at a nunnery. This shows she chose her husband (and his cause?) over power at the Despenser Camp, for she could as easily have let Audley be executed, and be free to share her Clare third with a Despenser-sponsored spouse. And Elizabeth's punishment in Despenser Camp for her defiance is well-documented. But she was much better at playing both sides in court politics than Margaret (or Audley, for that matter) ever were.

All three Clare sisters inherited their mother's strong will, though Eleanor's defiance wouldn't come into play until after her husband's fall.

Brad Verity said...

A couple more thoughts have occurred to me, and then I'll quiet down for awhile.

Theobald Verdun was close enough to Thomas of Lancaster that the Earl attended the funeral of Theobald's first wife in 1312. It's possible that Verdun was encouraged by Lancaster to seduce and/or abduct young widowed Elizabeth de Burgh after her brother was killed in the summer of 1314 (about a month after Verdun had taken up office as Justiciar of Ireland). Verdun was replaced as Justiciar in February 1315, and it would be interesting to know whether it was Edward or Cousin Lancaster holding the reigns of power at that moment.

It took almost a year for Verdun to abduct and marry Elizabeth after he was removed as Justiciar. He claimed in front of the Council that they had been betrothed in Ireland, and it's possible Verdun had attempted to get Edward's blessing for the union, and was flatly refused, and his termination was Edward's effort to get him away from Elizabeth. His abduction of her on her way back to court from Ireland (so before she had an audience with her uncle the king) is an act of daring that he certainly would not have attempted if he didn't feel he had the backing of Lancaster and the Council. It entirely favoured Lancaster, and all Edward could do in response was delay the partition of the Clare inheritance.

Whether Elizabeth was an abducted victim or an active conspirator in her second marriage is not certain. She would have understood it as a move into Lancaster's camp, and may have decided that her interests and those of the Ulster inheritance of her young son and heir were better protected in that camp than in the king's. Or she may not have been given any choice in the matter by Verdun and Lancaster. At any rate, Elizabeth was lucky enough to get impregnated by Verdun before his sudden death. Damory was given control of all the English lands of the Verdun inheritance a mere 9 days after Verdun's death, but marriage to Elizabeth had to wait until after she gave birth. Everyone was probably praying for Elizabeth to have a son so that the Verdun inheritance could stay in tact (and under the control of would-be legal guardian Damory for the next 21 years), but fate sent a daughter instead to shatter that plan. Edward and Damory thus desperately needed to marchstep the very reluctant young widow down the aisle. The years 1315 to 1318 could not have been happy ones at all for Elizabeth.

Kathryn Warner said...

Olive Tree: thanks!

Brad: I'm hoping to see Ed's letter to his niece at some point, whenever I can get to London, and translate it. I've transcribed and translated a lot of Ed's surviving chamber accounts of the 1320s - some fascinating stuff there, especially the 1325/26 one. I find it pretty easy to do, as long as the material's in French (my Latin's rather basic, I'm afraid).

Thanks so much for all your great, thought-provoking comments! They've really given me lots to think about, and I love your ideas. So I sincerely hope you won't quiet down, but will continue leaving comments here. :-)

Brad Verity said...

Alianore, I look forward to your eventual translation of Edward's letter to Elizabeth! It will be fascinating to hear Edward's seduction of her in his own words.

His calling her his favorite niece, even if a lie, may have been what she most wanted and needed to hear right after Verdun's death. That marriage must have taken its toll on her. It went against every way in which she was raised to have defied her king (who was also her closest male relative living).

It seems highly unlikely Verdun would have brought her to court after abducting her, which would explain why we only hear his version of the story to the Council. So it is well possible she had not had an audience with Edward since she had left for Ireland when she was fourteen. She was now a 20-year-old abducted heiress, getting one-sided information and justifications from Verdun and his retainers.

Verdun's sudden death (the events that immediately follow it suggest it was at the least, unexpected, and at the most, premeditated by Edward/Damory) would allow the first open & direct communication the King would have had with Elizabeth since her marriage, and also allowed for a narrow window of opportunity. Lancaster's attack on Alton Castle, the corporate headquarters of the Verdun Company, shortly afterwards demonstrates that he had been outmaneuvered by Edward and Damory.

Elizabeth's Verdun pregnancy allowed time for her to get to know Damory (placed in charge of her affairs by Edward), and return to the good graces of her uncle, which she would have understood as contingent on her submission to the Damory marriage. He was far from her social equal, but the precedent of her mother's second marriage may have tempered that in Elizabeth's (and Edward's) eyes.

The marriage was likely agreed to by Elizabeth before she retired to Amesbury, with the visit paid there by Edward and Damory to celebrate the birth of what was already viewed by all parties as Damory's stepdaughter. That Elizabeth was back in the royal Plantagenet good graces is demonstrated by Queen Isabella serving as the godmother to Elizabeth's Verdun daughter.

Now that I've had more thought on it, this scenario seems likelier than Elizabeth being anti-Edward throughout 1316 and 1317. He had done nothing in regards to her, following the death of her brother Gloucester, that was disparaging or not within his right, as he and his niece would have understood it. It was she who had defied him, or at least was made by Verdun to have appeared to have done so.

Nor is the King's letter to her necessarily disingenuous or a bald falsehood. As she would later demonstrate in the future actions of her life, Elizabeth was an accomplished and formidable woman, qualities the king could have recognized gestating in her before she was sent off to Ireland. On a personal level, she may well have been his favorite of his nieces.

Brad Verity said...

Alianore: "A younger son and thus not his father's heir, Roger joined the retinue of Edward II's nephew Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester, who granted him the manor of Easton for life, and first appears on record in 1306, when he was named as a knight of Buckinghamshire."

This is interesting. In 1306 it was Joan of Acre & Ralph de Monthermer who were in control of the Gloucester earldom, and it would have been through their good grace and patronage, and not that of young Gilbert, that Damory received Easton that year.

The implication is that young Gilbert inherited, rather than promoted, the career of Damory. I haven't had a chance yet to delve into young Gilbert, but he held great favor with Edward, and would be an influential Personal Reference for any ambitious knight.

Brad Verity said...

Alianore: "One of the few references to Roger I've found dates to July 1309, when he and about twenty other men were said to have besieged Thomas de la Hyde, sheriff of Cornwall, in the house of the parson of St Columb Major, assaulted him, tried to kill him and ..."

This is also important. This was a determined move against law and order. It was taking place in Cornwall, and the Damorys had received their initial patronage and status from their overlord the Earl of Cornwall. The relationship between the Damorys and their overlord when it was Earl Edmund seems smooth. The death of Sir Robert Damory in 1285 would have left his two young sons, still minors, under the guardianship of Earl Edmund. That Earl's death in 1300 would then make them wards of the crown until elder brother Richard Damory's majority. It would then be Richard's responsibility to find younger brother Roger a suitable position, preferably with an overlord powerful enough to advance Roger, so that the brothers would work together to advance the Damory lineage. This was not a family with easy and ready access to the King, and unfortunately the failure of the Cornwall male line in 1300, took away their chief liaison to the corridors of power.

It would be interesting to find out whom Edward I appointed as steward of the lands of the Cornwall inheritance from 1300 to 1307. For that royal official would be the new liaison for the Damory brothers to king and court. And then in 1307, the Damory brothers would have been part of the retainers granted to Gaveston as parcel of the earldom of Cornwall, and he would be their new overlord and conduit to promotion and power.

Kathryn Warner said...

I have to admit that I followed Underhill in the 1306 granting of Easton and didn't check her source, though it did seem a bit odd given that Gilbert was only 15 that year. (I'm not sure either which Easton it means, as there are several English towns/villages of that name.) I wonder if the 'Gloucester' who gave Roger the manor was Monthermer, in which case, it would be interesting to look for connections between them. Roger was in Gilbert's retinue at the tournament of Dunstable in 1309.

I've just checked J. S. Hamilton's biography of Piers for any refs to the Damorys, but there's only one: Richard's appointment as constable of Oxford Castle, which came at a vital time in the spring of 1308 when Ed II was transferring custody of royal and strategically important castles to men he and Piers trusted (before Piers' exile).

I must check the Patent/Fine Rolls for any refs to the steward of Earl Edmund's inheritance from 1300.

Brad Verity said...

Alianore: "In February 1310, Roger witnessed a grant of lands in Northamptonshire to Bartholomew Badlesmere, also a retainer of the earl of Gloucester, who would later become a very important figure in Edward II's household."

Badlesmere seems key in getting a better handle on Damory's rise. Northamptonshire seems far from the Damory family's sphere of influence, and is geographically far from Cornwall, where Damory was recorded the previous year. Does the Close Roll entry give the place where the grant was signed & witnessed? The Chancery Rolls are certainly some of the dullest texts one would ever encounter, but they are wonderful means to date/time stamp individuals and figure out relationships amidst the power structures of royal administration.

If Underhill was mistaken as to the date (1306) that she gives for Damory receiving the manor of Easton from Gloucester, then Badlesmere may well have been Roger's patron into Gloucester's household.

I'll know very little about Badlesmere, but I'll read what you have on him, and his bio in ODNB.

Brad Verity said...

Alianore: "Roger was in Gilbert's retinue at the tournament of Dunstable in 1309."

OK! So in 1309, Roger was a landless, needy knight in his mid-twenties being retained by Gloucester, a 19-year-old rising star in the power structure. Cornwall was the Damory family's patron and overlord (and Gaveston appears to have been fulfilling this role when it comes to older brother Sir Richard in spring 1308), so its interesting that Roger Damory ended up in Gloucester's camp.

What month was the Dunstable tournament? Was it before or after July, when Roger was terrorizing the sheriff of Cornwall?

Brad Verity said...

I've looked at Badlesmere's bio (by Professor Maddicott) in the ODNB.

ODNB: "He [Badlesmere] was made constable of Bristol Castle in August 1307, and began to receive numerous royal grants."

August of 1307 was of course the first month Edward II was in office. Bristol Castle was one of the most strategic areas within the Clare inheritance. Badlesmere was in his early 30s in 1307, about 10 years older than the new king, and about 17 years older than the young Earl of Gloucester, who was being prepared to receive control of the Clare inheritance.

ODNB: "His early connections had been with Henry de Lacy, fifth earl of Lincoln (d. 1311), whose retainer he was by October 1300, and with the northern magnate Robert Clifford, lord of Westmorland (d. 1314), with whom he served in Edward I's later Scottish campaigns."

Not familiar with Clifford, but Lincoln was senior advisor to Edward in the first months of his reign, and may have promoted Badlesmere to the strategic position he was given in Bristol.

ODNB: "He had a closer association with Gilbert de Clare, eighth earl of Gloucester (d. 1314), perhaps resulting from his marriage, before 30 June 1308, to Gloucester's cousin, Margaret de Umfraville, née de Clare, the widow of the eldest son of the earl of Angus."

OK, as a widow, Margaret's marriage belonged to the king. If there is no record of Badlesmere and Margaret paying a fine for marrying without licence, then it is highly likely Margaret was given in marriage to Badlesmere by the King around the same time he was granted Bristol Castle, in order to sacredly tie him to the Clare lineage and serve as a loyal captain in Gloucester's retinue, perhaps even the senior-ranking retainer (and so Gloucester's right hand). He was older enough than Gloucester, and a veteran of the Scottish campaigns, that it would be hoped the young earl would look up to him for counsel.

ODNB: "That such a natural loyalist [Badlesmere] should have met a traitor's end reflects all Edward II's failings as a political manager."

Wow! Maddicott sure doesn't think much of Edward! Why Edward's 'failings' and Badlesmere a 'natural loyalist'? Bias, table for one!

Kathryn Warner said...

When I look at the entry in question (an 'enrolment of release' from John Russell to Badlesmere of various lands in Northants), it was entered on the Close Roll on 25 Feb 1310, but in fact was dated at 'Stokwell' (I presume Stockwell, London) on 'Thursday before the feast of Simon and Jude, 2 Edward II', which by my reckoning was 24 Oct 1308. Some (possibly all, but I haven't checked) of the other witnesses were retainers of the earl of Gloucester, including his first cousin Richard de Clare of Thomond and John Elsefield. Ed II's itinerary puts him at Westminster on 24 Oct 1308.

Badlesmere's landed power was mostly in Kent; one chroncle says that he had aspirations to become earl of Kent, and hence it's probably significant that Ed II created his half-brother Edmund earl of Kent on 28 July 1321. Around this time, Badlesmere (then Ed's steward) abandoned him and joined the Lancaster/Marcher coalition against him. The timing suggests that either Edmund becoming earl of Kent was one of the factors that pushed Badlesmere towards the opposition, or it was Ed's reaction to Badlesmere's desertion of him. (Joining the Marchers was the worst mistake Badlesmere could possibly have made, and he suffered grotesque execution a few months later.)

The tournament of Dunstable unfortunately can't be dated precisely, but almost certainly took place in early spring 1309, so was 3 months or so before Roger's attack on the sheriff of Cornwall. Parliament opened on 27 July 1309 at Stamford, and of course the earl of Gloucester was summoned, so it would seem that Roger was far away from him in Cornwall around that time.

I don't know too much about Clifford, either - he was killed at Bannockburn, and was one of the men who besieged Gaveston at Scarborough in May 1312, with the earls of Pembroke and Surrey. On 16 Nov 1315 (Pat Rolls 1313-1317, p. 422) Badlesmere and other men were appointed to investigate the abduction and imprisonment of Clifford's widow Maud by John le Ireys ('the Irishman').

Oh, have just remembered that Maud Clifford was the sister of Badlesmere's wife Margaret, and they were the sisters of Gilbert and Richard de Clare of Thomond.

Afraid I'm not at all surprised about the comment on Edward II's 'failings' - it's pretty mild compared to the harsh criticism he usually gets. Poor Edward!

Brad Verity said...

Alianore, thank you for all of the great information on Badlesmere. His youth was spent as a young knight in Edward I's household, serving in Gascony in 1294, and the Scottish campaigns of the 1290s and 1300s. He thus would have come to the notice of the Earl of Lincoln, who was a commander in all of those campaigns, and must have been capable enough that he was retained by Lincoln by 1300.

Lincoln was closely linked to the Clare family by blood, and would have promoted Badlesmere to the Clare brothers of Thomond, and to their brother-in-law Lord Clifford, while they were all serving in the Scottish campaigns. So Badlesmere's marriage to Margaret Clare of Thomond would have taken place in the last years of Edward I's reign, since Badlesmere is associated with Clifford in those campaigns. It was not arranged by Edward II on his accession.

Young Gilbert of Gloucester inherited Badlesmere as a kinsman and senior retainer when he was granted control of the Clare inheritance by Edward II (Badlesmere was not brought into it by either Edward's or Gilbert's initiative). It was likely Richard Clare of Thomond and Badlesmere who were viewed as the senior members of young Gloucester's council and retinue. Edward, at least, had nothing against Badlesmere when he first ascended the throne. His granting of Bristol Castle to Badlesmere in August 1307 was a demonstration to Lincoln and to the Thomond Clares that he approved of their promotion and alliance with the Kent banneret.

Badlesmere would badly fail Edward's and the Clare family's trust twice: 1) His cowardice at Bannockburn in 1314; 2) The abduction of Elizabeth de Clare from Bristol Castle in 1316, while under his stewardship. I wonder how he talked his way out of those betrayals.

Its very interesting Roger Damory was part of this Clare camp as early as the autumn of 1308. Gaveston had been deprived of Cornwall at that point, but his wife and his role in Ireland still tied him closely to Clare family interests, and Roger may have been transfered to Gloucester when Gaveston lost Cornwall earlier in 1308.

It's also interesting that Roger's attack on the sheriff of Cornwall in July 1309, followed a couple months after the Dunstable tournament, which we know he attended as Gloucester's retainer. Was he acting as the 'muscle' for Gloucester and his Council in this instance?

Damory's role as a Clare retainer since at least October 1308 means he likely attended young Gloucester on most of his expeditions, and would have had exposure to Edward II in that capacity before Bannockburn. His bravery in that battle (especially compared to senior-ranking retainer Badlesmere) would have been an important factor in Edward's promotion of him, but his military standing with the Clare retainers and tenants would carry very important weight as well. None of them would have followed Badlesmere into battle after 1314.

Brad Verity said...

Alianore: "Unlike Bartholomew Badlesmere, accused of cowardice during the battle and of abandoning the young earl to his fate - a contemporary poem says venomously that "this traitor deserves to be put to the rack" for his actions"

This has been incredible to me since I first read it a few days ago. Which poem says this? That Badlesmere escaped punishment may have been due to years of otherwise loyal service to Gloucester and the crown. It certainly is an example of Edward's leniency towards a baron. Badlesmere's act of cowardice would be condemned in today's military, let alone the chivalrous codes of Edward II's army. Even if the buzz from the battlefield was exaggerated, the fact that Badlesmere ended up with the reputation at all suggests he didn't live up to military expectations. Why Badlesmere escaped punishment would be an interesting research topic in and of itself.

He certainly showed that he valued his own life over his honor and duty to his overlord - a personality trait which Edward may have exploited for his own purposes for the rest of Badlesmere's life.

"- Roger fought bravely in the battle, which brought him to Edward II's attention. The king transferred him into his own service."

Since the King had the Clare inheritance in his own hands now following Gloucester's death, it was more a transition than a transfer. A technicality, since, yes, Damory's bravery at Bannockburn raised him in esteem well above all other Clare retainers.

Alianore: “Probably the first sign that Roger was rising in Edward's favour comes in late December 1314/early January 1315, when the king appointed him constable of Knaresborough Castle in Yorkshire, formerly Piers Gaveston's”

Knaresborough was a very strategic castle in any Scottish campaign. It withstood a raid by the Scots in 1318 (though the outside town and priory were decimated). It had undergone massive improvements by Edward I in the 1300s during his Scottish campaigns. Damory receiving it demonstrates Edward’s complete trust in him and his military ability.

Edward must have thanked God for Damory: a valiant knight with demonstrative military skill with no tie to the baronage at this point. His former overlords, Cornwall and Gloucester, were dead, their retainers now directly under the king’s lordship and looking for military guidance. Gloucester had been an Edward-leaning Ordainer. Lancaster would have tried to influence Gloucester peer-to-peer, Ordainer-to-Ordainer, and would have had little use for, or direct contact with, any land-and-power-poor knights (like Damory) in Gloucester’s retinue. Damory, unknown to Lancaster, rising up out of the ashes of Gaveston, no doubt surprised and dismayed the earl.

Alianore: “But also ordered him to stay at court with him - both of which happened around the time of Piers' funeral, coincidentally or not.”

What was the exact date that Edward appointed Damory the constable of Knaresborough, and the exact date that he ordered him to remain at court? January 1315 was a crucial month in the power struggle between King and Lancaster. Gaveston’s funeral was January 3rd, but later that month in Parliament, Edward was forced to concede to Lancaster the entire terms of the Ordinances, which included the cancellation of all royal grants, and complete changeover of county sheriffs. Throughout 1315, Lancaster was in charge of the campaign against the Scots. Lancaster was in effect seizing control of the military. Edward’s wish for Damory to remain with him at court was likely a desire to keep the knight out of the hands and influence of Lancaster.

Kathryn Warner said...

Brad, I've just found an interesting entry in the Chancery Warrants 1244-1326, p. 111, dated 16 July 1300 at 'Lochrutton': "Mandate, as Sir Richard Dammory, who is of the household of Humphrey de Boun, earl of Hereford, has been chosen one of the justices in the county of Oxford to redress grievances...but wishes to come to Scotland on the king's service..." I didn't know before of a connection between Richard Damory and the earl of Hereford. 1300 was of the course the year Earl Edmund of Cornwall died.

The poem about Badlesmere (Latin in the original) is cited in T, Wright, The Political Songs of England, pp. 263-4, and calls him "the traitorous man, Bartholomew" who "has been to his master as changeable as a Pharisee. Hence as the representative of Judas he shall be condemned to death. Seeing the enemy's rage against his master, he pretends that he had been out more than six weeks; because he refused to come to his master's support, this traitor has deserved to be put to the rack." (Pretending to be out of what more than six weeks?) The Vita Edwardi Secundi (ed. Denholm-Young, pp. 52-3) says the earl of Gloucester "would have been victorious [in his attack on the schiltrons] if he had had faithful companions" but "when they [the 500 horsemen with him] saw their lord unhorsed, they stood astonished and brought him no aid...Alas! Twenty armed knights could have saved the earl, but among some five hundred men not one was found to help. May the Lord confound them." He doesn't mention Badlesmere by name though, and this passage makes me wonder where Roger Damory was during the battle.

What interests me is that Edward II appointed Badlesmere the leader of an attack on Bristol, where a dispute had been going on between various sets of merchants and burgesses, in the summer of 1316 - I suppose because Badlesmere was constable of Bristol Castle and keeper of the town. (The Vita, p. 73, confirms that Badlesmere "was in charge of the whole business.") I wonder what the men who fought with him, Maurice Berkeley (the one who succeeded as Lord in 1321), John Charlton and Roger Mortimer of Wigmore felt about being under the command of a man accused of such dreadful cowardice. I really need to do some more research on the Bristol affair, and Badlesmere's career in the 1310s.

After the Contrariants' defeat at Boroughbridge in March 1322 - I'm not sure if Badlesmere fought in the battle or not - Badlesmere was discovered by Donald of Mar hiding out at one of the manors of his nephew the bishop of Lincoln (Henry Burghersh), which I can't imagine increased anyone's respect for him! His grotesque execution I dare say was intended by Edward II partly as a warning of what would happen to anyone who betrayed the king and also as a sign of Edward's contempt. Edward was utterly furious with him in 1322; the safe-conducts he granted to other Contrariants to come and treat with him pointedly exclude Badlesmere by name.

Roger Damory was appointed constable of Knaresborough on 24 Dec 1314 and the order was repeated on 5 Jan 1315 (Fine Rolls 1307-19, pp. 224-5). I don't have Edward's order for him to stay at court handy, but it was definitely later - late January or perhaps February. So that would fit with Edward's wishing to keep Damory away from Lancaster.

Roger Damory may have accompanied Gloucester on Edward's Scottish campaign of 1310/11, though I haven't found any refs to him there. This possible long-standing connection between Damory and Badlesmere might also go some way to explaining Badlesmere and the earl of Pembroke's indenture with Damory in Nov 1317.,