28 January, 2010

The Rise and Fall of a Royal Favourite: Roger Damory (2)

Here's the second part of my post about Roger Damory, Edward II's greatest court favourite between 1315 and 1319 or thereabouts (the first part is here). The first part ended with the earl of Lancaster attacking Roger, who had attained the position of Lancaster's Chief Enemy, by seizing two castles of which he was custodian. Lancaster must have been deeply dismayed in November 1317 when the lands of the late earl of Gloucester were finally partitioned among his three sisters and their husbands, and Roger Damory became one of the richest men in the realm. He was also summoned to parliament for the first time that month. Roger was now the king's nephew-in-law, rich in his own (or rather, his reluctant new wife's) right and not merely dependent on Edward II's favour, with vast influence over the king, and had therefore become a much more powerful enemy. Lancaster's fear and hatred of him knew no bounds: in July 1318, he accused Roger of trying to murder him, and also claimed that he had intercepted letters at Pontefract, written by Edward II and sent to Scotland, inviting the Scots to help kill him (Lancaster). [1] To what extent this is true or merely the earl's paranoia is hard to say.

Roger Damory's excessive, self-serving and frequently malevolent influence over the king clearly could not be allowed to continue, and on 24 November 1317 the earl of Pembroke and Bartholomew Badlesmere forced Roger - I don't know how - to sign an indenture, wherein he promised to do his best to prevent Edward II from taking action prejudicial to himself or his kingdom (which demonstrates, incidentally, what little faith Pembroke and Badlesmere had in Edward) and if he were unable to dissuade him, would inform Pembroke and Badlesmere as soon as possible so that the three of them together could talk Edward out of whatever foolishness he might be planning. Pembroke and Badlesmere knew from long experience that no-one was more likely to persuade Edward to do something imprudent than Roger himself, and made him swear on the Host to obey the covenant and pledge the massive sum of £10,000 as a penalty for breaking it. For their part, the two men swore to defend and maintain Damory against all persons except the king, as long as he kept and observed the covenant. [2]

Edward II kept Christmas 1317 at Westminster and gave silver-gilt cups worth seven pounds each to twenty-five knights, one of whom was Roger Damory's elder brother Richard. Whatever gifts the king and royal favourite gave each other is unfortunately not recorded, although in March 1318, Edward bought himself six pieces of Lucca cloth when he attended his stepmother Queen Marguerite's funeral at the Greyfriars church in London, and gave Roger two pieces of the same. [3] After Marguerite's funeral, Edward travelled to Clare Castle in Suffolk, where he spent 23 to 27 March with Roger and his wife, Edward's niece Elizabeth, who was about seven months pregnant (their daughter Elizabeth was born shortly before 23 May; Edward and Queen Isabella's daughter Eleanor was born on 8 June). In July 1318, Edward summoned a meeting of his great council at Northampton. The earl of Lancaster did not attend, and the Vita Edwardi Secundi says that the earl of Surrey, Roger Damory, Hugh Audley, William Montacute and both Hugh Despensers arrived at Northampton "in great strength, so that you would have thought they had not come to parliament, but to battle." The author gives this as the reason for Lancaster’s non-attendance, as "he counted all the aforenamed as his deadly enemies." [4] It was at this time that Lancaster accused Roger and William Montacute of trying to kill him. Edward II finally came to terms with his turbulent cousin - for a while, anyway - in early August, when the two men exchanged the kiss of peace in a field in Leicestershire and signed the Treaty of Leake. Lancaster demanded that Roger Damory, Hugh Audley and William Montacute be sent away from court and that they acknowledge large debts to him - Roger's was 906 marks [5] - to which, surprisingly, Edward agreed. He would never have consented to Piers Gaveston's removal until forced to (and dug his heels in for months on end when his barons demanded it) and in the future, refused to send Hugh Despenser away from him even during the biggest crisis of his reign. Although Roger Damory's friendship with Edward was certainly not over, without constant access to the king, his influence over him would henceforth be limited. The earl of Pembroke and Edward's long-suffering subjects must have rejoiced.

Roger took part in the siege of Berwick-on-Tweed in September 1319, bringing eighty-two men with him. Perhaps he took a crumb of comfort from the fact that, although Edward had allowed him to be banished from court, he promised to make Roger constable of the town once it fell (which of course it didn't). On the other hand, Roger's brother-in-law Hugh Despenser the Younger, the king's chamberlain since the summer or early autumn of 1318, had grown close to the king, and Edward promised to make him keeper of Berwick Castle. It's a real shame that the intense jockeying between these men for Edward's favour that must have been going on at this time, and the nature of it, is invisible on the surface (it would make fantastic material for a novel). Roger accompanied the king to France in the summer of 1320, when Edward II paid homage to his brother-in-law Philip V for Gascony and Ponthieu, but by the time they returned to England, Roger had been edged out of the king's favour by Hugh Despenser. Edward gave Roger a grant of free warren in his Hertfordshire manor of Standon on 9 September, and granted him a respite of 1000 marks on a debt of 2300 marks on 14 November, [6] but this meant little compared to the king's taking the South Wales peninsula of Gower into his own hands that October prior to granting it to Hugh Despenser. Roger had seen Despenser take over the Welsh lands of their brother-in-law Hugh Audley, and Despenser also coveted Roger's lordship of Usk: "by other false compassings he compassed to have the lands of Sir Roger Damary..." [7]

The Marcher lords, threatened by the rising power of Hugh Despenser at court and in the Marches, gradually left court over Christmas 1320. Roger Damory, now moving into the position of king's enemy, was one of the last to leave, and was still close enough to Edward to be granted permission to hunt in the royal forests of Clarendon and Hampton in early January 1321. Still, Damory obviously realised that his influence with Edward was over, and he "could have no affection for his deadly rival," Despenser. [8] He joined the coalition of the earl of Hereford, Roger Mortimer and the rest - even the earl of Lancaster, who managed to overcome his hatred for the former royal favourite in his eagerness to join the growing opposition to his cousin the king.

In early 1321, Edward II took ineffective steps to prevent the outbreak of civil war by ordering Roger Damory, Roger Mortimer and others - including Hugh Despenser, in a transparent and fruitless attempt not to be seen to be taking sides – "not to permit any assemblies to be made whereby the king’s peace or the tranquillity of the king’s people of those parts may be disturbed." Edward added that he had heard that Roger and the others were making "assemblies and musters in warlike manner, whereat the king is astonished, as it is unknown why such assemblies are made." Three weeks later on 13 April, the king ordered Roger, Roger Mortimer, the earl of Hereford and others, again including Despenser, not to make armed assemblies in their lands and "not to presume to go with armed power against other persons who are in the king’s peace and faith." Roger Damory was replaced as constable of the castles of Corfe and St Briavels in April/May 1321, by John Ryther and William Beauchamp respectively. [9]

The Despenser War began on 4 May 1321 when the Marchers and their allies attacked the Welsh castles and lands of Hugh Despenser, and Roger Damory took part in the destruction. (Edward II must have heard of his involvement by 8 May, as it was on this day that he removed Roger from his position as constable of Corfe.) Edward was forced, in the August 1321 parliament held at Westminster, to grant pardons to the men who had taken part in the attacks on the Despensers, who included Roger Damory and no fewer than 103 other men pardoned on his testimony. They included Lord Berkeley and his second son Maurice (his eldest son Thomas was pardoned on the testimony of his father-in-law Roger Mortimer), John Maltravers and his brother Edward, Henry Tyes who was executed in 1322, and three men whose names I really like: Guilmin Gloont, Oillard de Welles and Druet Dane. [10] Roger Damory was accused around this time of assaulting John de Bermingham, earl of Louth and the new justiciar of Ireland (replacing Roger Mortimer), when he visited England. Louth, formerly an ally of Mortimer but now close to Edward II and the Despensers, claimed that Roger's attack forced him to flee to Normandy, and that he had suffered great losses and damages. [11] Meanwhile, however, Robert Batail, baron of the Cinque Ports, and other men of Winchelsea, staunch allies of Edward II, attacked two ships and stole the merchandise – cloth and canvas – they found on board, claiming that the merchants were adherents of Roger. A William Edward of Dartmouth was appointed to seize a ship belonging to Roger at Weymouth. [12]

The Marchers granted Roger custody of Hugh Despenser's lordship of Glamorgan, and on 16 August, 25 September and 28 November, Edward II ordered him to deliver the lordship into his own hands. Roger, reluctant to let it go, wrote to Edward with the lame excuse that if he handed over Glamorgan to the king this would cause the inhabitants to believe that Despenser had remained in the country and that therefore they would rise in war, "which answer the king deems altogether insufficient and derisory." On 22 November, Edward had seized Roger's lands and goods in Essex, Suffolk and Hertfordshire, and ordered his arrest and the seizure of all his lands and goods on 6 December. This order was repeated on 27 December. [13]

Edward II arrived in Gloucestershire on 20 December 1321 to begin a campaign against the Contrariants. Attempting to cross the Severn, he arrived in Worcester on New Year's Eve, but was unable to use the bridge because it was being held against him, and left on 7 January to attempt a crossing further north. As soon as he had left, Roger swooped in with an armed force and took the town for the Marchers. Roger was named in a writ to the constable of Bristol Castle on 15 January, to be arrested for the attacks on the townspeople of Bridgnorth, and after the surrender of the Mortimers, Lord Berkeley and Sir Hugh Audley Sr he was one of the Contrariants to flee into Yorkshire to the earl of Lancaster, their sole remaining hope of defeating the king. [14] Roger had come a long way: from Edward II's great favourite and Lancaster's enemy, accused of trying to kill him, to Edward's enemy, forced to seek refuge with Lancaster. Edward ordered the arrest of Richard Damory, Roger's elder brother and formerly the guardian of Edward's eldest son, and seized his lands and goods. He released Richard a month later, however, and Richard served him as steward of the household from July 1322 to May 1325 and later as justice of Chester. [15] (Evidently a canny politician, Richard also survived the invasion of Isabella and Mortimer unscathed, and retained his position as justice of Chester. He died peacefully in August 1330, leaving as his heir his son Richard, aged about fourteen.)

On 11 March 1322, Edward II, on the advice of the earls of Kent, Pembroke, Arundel, Surrey, Richmond and Atholl, pronounced Roger Damory and the other leading Contrariants as traitors, and ordered all the sheriffs of England to arrest them, saying that they "inflicted evil against the king's servants, conducting war against the king with banners displayed," and that when they saw that Edward was on his way to Burton-on-Trent, "they turned their backs, set fire to the town, and fled." When the Contrariants fled from Burton, they left Roger, apparently badly wounded, behind. He was captured and tried, and condemned to the traitor's death by the royal justice Geoffrey le Scrope and the marshal of England (Edward’s half-brother Thomas of Brotherton, earl of Norfolk), but the court informed him that because Edward had loved him well in the past and because he had given Roger his niece in marriage, the king would respite the punishment – although the charge of treason stood, which meant that Roger's heir, his daughter Elizabeth, and her descendants were perpetually disinherited.

Roger Damory died at Tutbury Priory (four miles from Burton-on-Trent) on 12 March 1322, presumably of wounds sustained fighting against the royal army, though the Lanercost chronicle and the Croniques de London say he died of 'grief', and his widow Elizabeth claimed in 1326, rather disingenuously, that he was "pursued and oppressed so that he died." He was certainly not executed, as some published works continue to state. The author of the Vita Edwardi Secundi, less sympathetic than other chroniclers, points out that Roger was a "poor and needy knight" who rose to prominence through the king's favour, so that when he turned against Edward "many marked him down as ungrateful." [16] Edward was not present at Roger's death-bed - he had left Tutbury and moved on to Derby the day before - and how he felt about a man he had once loved dying in rebellion against him must remain a matter for speculation. Even before Roger's death, his wife Elizabeth was captured at Usk and sent to the abbey of Barking with her young children, where she learned of her husband's demise. Edward informed the abbess on 16 March that Elizabeth was not to "go out of the abbey gates in any wise." (This may seem cruel, and maybe it was, but Elizabeth's vast lands reverted to her on Roger's death and made her an enormously attractive prospective wife, and the last thing Edward wanted was for her to marry one of his enemies.) He released his niece a few months later and restored her Welsh lands to her on 25 July and the English and Irish ones on 2 November 1322, having paid seventy-four pounds for her expenses at Barking. [17] Roger was apparently buried with honour at St Mary's Church in Ware, Hertfordshire.

John Maddicott has said of Roger Damory (in the ODNB) that "his rapid rise and precipitate fall typified the fate of others who had had the misfortune to enjoy Edward's patronage," while Elizabeth de Burgh's biographer Frances Underhill brilliantly calls him "a grasping, reckless mediocrity with a petty crook's mentality." Roger left a single legitimate child, Elizabeth (1318-1361/62), who married John, Lord Bardolf of Wormegay in Norfolk (1312/14-1363, died in Assisi) sometime before 25 December 1327 when she was only nine and he about fourteen, and had a son and two daughters. There are various entries on the calendared rolls which confirm that Elizabeth was Roger's sole legitimate child and heir (or at least, his sole surviving legitimate child). [18] Elizabeth Damory and John Bardolf's grandson Thomas, Lord Bardolf (born 1369), in an echo of his great-grandfather's fate, died of his wounds after the battle of Bramham Moor in 1408, having joined the earl of Northumberland's rebellion against Henry IV.

Roger may (emphasis on the may; I'm only speculating) have had illegitimate sons. A boy or young man also named Roger Damory lived in the household of Roger's widow Elizabeth de Burgh from 1331 to 1336, although Elizabeth's accounts unfortunately do not record his parentage or any other useful details, and a Roger Damory, apparently a sailor, was to be arrested with two other men and "all their vessels, goods and letters in whosesoever hands found" in Weymouth, Dartmouth or Plymouth in August 1376. [19] The Complete Peerage says that Sir Nicholas Damory, a fairly prominent figure of the mid-fourteenth century, was probably the first cousin of Roger's nephew Sir Richard Damory (died 1375, son of his elder brother Richard), which would make Nicholas either Roger's illegitimate son or the son of another Damory brother whose existence has never been discovered. Sir Nicholas Damory was one of Elizabeth de Burgh's most trusted retainers for many years - he was an executor of her will in 1360 - an ambassador of Edward III to the pope in 1357, appointed steward of the household of Edward III's eldest daughter Isabella in 1359, a keeper of the peace in Oxfordshire in 1361 and knight of the shire for that county four times, accompanied Edward III's son the duke of Clarence overseas in 1364 and married the widow of Alan la Zouche, half-brother of the earl of Warwick and stepson of Elizabeth de Burgh's sister Eleanor Despenser. John Bardolf and his wife Elizabeth Damory granted Nicholas the Oxfordshire manor of Holton in April 1340, and John appointed Nicholas his attorney in June 1363 when he went to Assisi, so there was certainly a connection there. [20] Nicholas was a scholar at Cambridge in 1318 and still there in 1326, and died in 1381 at Depden in Suffolk - part of the inheritance of his second (third?) wife Joan Wauncy - so lived to a ripe old age. A commenter on my old Roger post mentioned a Henry Damory or Damery of Tortworth in Gloucestershire, who died in 1365 and is believed by some also to have been connected to Roger.

1) J. R. S. Phillips, Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke 1307-1324: Baronial Politics in the Reign of Edward II, p. 131; J. R. Maddicott, Thomas of Lancaster 1307-1322: A Study in the Reign of Edward II, p. 224.
2) Phillips, Valence, pp. 139-147, 317-319; James Conway Davies, The Baronial Opposition to Edward II, pp. 433-434, 563-564.
3) Stapleton, 'Brief Summary', pp. 337, 344.
4) Vita, p. 87.
5) Cal Close Rolls 1318-1323, p. 109.
6) Calendar of Charter Rolls 1300-1326, p. 428; Cal Pat Rolls 1317-1321, p. 519.
7) Cal Close Rolls 1318-1323, pp. 493-494.
8) Underhill, For Her Good Estate, p. 27; Vita, p. 109.
9) Cal Close Rolls 1318-1323, pp. 363, 366; Cal Fine Rolls 1319-1327, pp. 51, 55, 81.
10) Cal Pat Rolls 1321-1324, pp. 15-16.
11) TNA SC 8/59/2917.
12) TNA SC 8/7/327, SC 8/40/1970; Cal Fine Rolls 1319-1327, p. 100.
13) Cal Fine Rolls 1319-1327, pp. 70, 80, 84; Cal Close Rolls 1318-1323, pp. 402, 408; Cal Pat Rolls 1321-1324, pp. 37, 40.
14) Cal Close Rolls 1318-1323, pp. 511-514, 525-526.
15) Cal Close Rolls 1318-1323, pp. 421, 425, 428; Cal Fine Rolls 1319-1327, p. 99; Cal Close Rolls 1323-1327, p. 51.
16) George Sayles, 'The Formal Judgements on the Traitors of 1322', Speculum, 16 (1941), p. 58; The Chronicle of Lanercost 1272-1346, ed. H. Maxwell, p. 235; Croniques de London depuis l’an 44 Hen III jusqu'à l'an 17 Edw III, ed. G. J. Aungier, p. 44; G. A. Holmes, 'A Protest Against the Despensers, 1326', Speculum, 30 (1955), p. 210; Vita, p. 123.
17) Cal Close Rolls 1318-1323, pp. 428, 578, 651; Cal Close Rolls 1323-1327, p. 65.
18) Cal Pat Rolls 1334-1338, pp. 490-491; Cal Close Rolls 1360-1364, pp. 160-161; Cal Close Rolls 1369-1374, p. 377; Cal Fine Rolls 1356-1368, p. 151; for Elizabeth and John's marriage, Cal Pat Rolls 1327-1330, p. 198.
19) Underhill, For Her Good Estate, p. 100; Cal Pat Rolls 1374-1377, p. 333.
20) Cal Pat Rolls 1338-1340, p. 477; Cal Pat Rolls 1361-1364, p. 377.


Susan Higginbotham said...

Fascinating! Interesting about the possible illegitimate sons.

N. Gemini Sasson said...

I've seen Damory's name mentioned before, but only in little blips here and there. Thanks for taking the time to put this together, so that his changing role in Edward's life makes more sense.

Gabriele Campbell said...

Those darned chroniclers - they can come up with all sorts of nasty adjectives to describe persons they don't like, but don't bother to give us the reason why Damory agreed to that treaty with Pembroke and Badlesmere. ;)

Heh, it must have been something of a fate for the barons that every time they managed to oust a royal favourite a worse one replaced him. Pier's witty remarks may have been the lesser evil.

Brad Verity said...

Another wonderful post, I'm looking forward to combing through in detail. One quick point:

Alianore: "There are various entries on the calendared rolls which confirm that Elizabeth was Roger's sole legitimate child and heir (or at least, his sole surviving legitimate child)."

John Burke, in his 'Extinct Peerages' (1831), gives Roger and Elizabeth a second daughter, Eleanor Damory, wife of John de Raleigh, and ancestor of Sir Walter Raleigh. Burke used Banks as his source for Eleanor Damory. Hal Bradley, one of the participants on the soc.genealogy.medieval newsgroup, in his online database, further identifies John de Raleigh as a knight of Cornwood, Devon. He also has specific death dates for the couple: Sir John on 7 August 1352, and Eleanor on 9 December 1364. His source for these dates is an article by P.L. Hull, 'Thomas Chiverton's Book of Obits' in 'Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries' Volume 33 (Autumn 1977), p. 339.

Whoever Sir John de Raleigh's wife Eleanor was, she was certainly not the daughter of Elizabeth de Burgh, Lady of Clare. If she had been so, she would have appeared in that lady's will and all of the other surviving documentation regarding the Damory and Clare inheritances, most of which Alianore has seen.

Its possible that Sir John de Raleigh's wife Eleanor was an additional illegitimate child of Sir Roger Damory, if she was even a Damory at all (not having seen any of the original evidence that led to her identification).

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Susan! I hope that one day information will come to light proving me right or wrong in speculating about these sons.

Gemini: thanks, and glad you found the post helpful!

Gabriele: true - I wonder if the barons of the 1320s felt nostalgic for Piers when they saw how much worse Hugh Despenser was! :-)

Kathryn Warner said...

Brad: thank you, and really glad you liked the post. I've seen a few genealogy sites giving Roger and Elizabeth another daughter called Eleanor, and wondered where they got her from, as she clearly wasn't Elizabeth's daughter and can't have been a legitimate daughter of Roger by a previous marriage, either. I did wonder if in fact she was the daughter of Roger's brother Richard. Possibly she was an illegitimate daughter of Roger, and it would be really interesting to look into it and see what the evidence is for her being a Damory and how plausible it is.

Carla said...

Excellent pair of posts pulling together the information.
"....the misfortune to enjoy Edward's patronage...." is a pretty accurate summing up :-)

Anerje said...

very enjoyable read Alianore! This quote made me laugh - "a grasping, reckless mediocrity with a petty crook's mentality."

And yes, Ed's favs jockeying would make a wonderful novel!

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Carla and Anerje! Those two quotations really are great, aren't they?