Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bigod, Roger (1245-1306)

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BIGOD, ROGER, fifth Earl of Norfolk (1245–1306), marshal of England, was born in 1245, and was the son of Hugh Bigod [q. v.], the justiciar, and nephew of Roger, fourth earl [q. v.], whom he succeeded in 1270. The period of his life as a baron during nearly synchronous with the reign of Edward I, his career is closely identified with the constitutional struggle with the crown in which the baronage played so large a part. He was present in the Welsh campaign of 1282, and had the custody of the epistles of Bristol and Nottingham, which, however, he afterwards surrendered. In 1288 he was found preparing to levy private war, but was repressed by Edmund of Cornwall, regent during the king^s absence in Gascony. Edward's reforms had alarmed the barons, who foresaw the curtailment of their power under a strong and well-ordered government. In 1289 the spirit of opposition was manifested in the refusal of a subsidy. Then the wars with France, Wales, and Scotland, which are the principal events in the history of 1294-6, forced Edward to resort to measures of arbitrary taxation; and when, on 24 Feb. 1297, he summoned the baronage to meet at Salisbury with the view of making an effort for the invasion of France, the barons rebelled. Roger Bigod and Humphrey Bohun, earl of Hereford, were at the head of the opposition. When Edward called them them to serve in Gascony while he took command in Flanders, they refused to go, on the plea that their tenure obliged them only to serve beyond seas in company with the king. Turning to Bigod Edward tried persuasion. 'With you, O king,' Bigod answered, 'I will gladly go; as belongs to me by hereditary right, I will go in the front of the host before your face.' 'But without me,' Edward urged, 'you will go with the rest.' 'Without you, O king,' was the answer, 'I am not bound to go, and go I will not.' Edward lost his temper, 'By God, earl, you shall either go of hang.' 'By God,' said Roger, 'O king, I will neither go nor hang' (Hemingburgh's Chronicle, ii. 121; Stubbs's Const. Hist. ii l44). The council broke up, and Bigod and Bohun were joined by more than thirty of the great vassals and assembled a force, but were content with preventing the levy of money or seizure of wool and other commodities on their own domains. In answer to a general levy of the military strength of the kingdom, on 7 July, the two earls refused to serrve their officer of marshal and constable, and were therefore deprived. The barons then drew up a list of grievances, in which they were joined by Archbishop Winchelsey, the the clergy having also been taxed with undue severity. Edward, however, managed to effect a reconciliation with the archbishop, and promised to confirm the charters on condition of receiving a grant, The archbishop undertook to consult the clergy, and the king persuaded the chief men of the commons who had attended the military levy to grant him an aid. But the two earls still kept aloof. Finally, however, they presented their list of grievances. But Edward was now at the end of his patience, On 20 Aug. he laid a tax on the clergy, and two days after embarked for Flanders, leaving Prince Edward regent during his absence, The earls did not fail to use their opportunity, They protested against the exactions on wool, and prevented the collection of an aid until the charters should be confirmed. In these proceedings they were supported by the citizens of London. An assembly of the magnates and knights of the shires was summoned early in October. Bigod and Bohun appeared in arms and with an armed force, and the charters, with additional articles whereby the king was to renounce the right of taxation without national consent, were submitted to the regent for confirmation. By the advice of his counsellors the prince yielded, and the charters were confirmed on 10 Oct. Early in the following month this confirmation was ratified by Edward at Ghent.

The king returned to England in March 1298, and, having ccmcluded a peace with France, proceeded in the summer to the invasion of Scotland. As the price of their attendance the earls demanded a confirmation of the charters by the king in person. The question of the limits and jurisaiction of the forests was the principal cause of contention and Edward hesitated long. At last, at the parliament of Lincoln, the charters were fully confirmed, 14 Feb. 1301.

Throughout these events Roger Bigod had been a prominent figure; but no sooner had the object of the struggle been attained than his power appears to have collapsed. Humphrey Bohun had died in 1298, and the loss of his support to Bigod no doubt made it easier for the king to deal summarily with the survivor. In 1301 the Earl of Norfolk made the king his heir, and gave up the marshal's rod; and on 12 April 1302 he surrendered his lands and title, receiving them back in tail on 12 July following. Seeking for a cause for this surrender, the chronicler Hemingburgh has ascribed it, not satisfactorily, to a quarrel between Roger and his brother John. Roger Bigod died on 11 Dec. 1306, without issue, and, in consequence of his surrender, his dignities vested in the crown. He married twice: first, Alina, daughter and coheir of Philip Basset, chief justiciar of England in 1261, and widow of Hugh le Despencer, chief justiciar of the barons; and, secondly, Alice, daughter of John II d'Avesne, count of Hainault.

[Chronicles of Rishanger and Hemingburgh; Dugdale's Baronage, i. 135; Foss's Judges of Judges of England, ii. 221; Anselme's Histoire Généalogique, ii. 783; Stubbs's Constitutional History and Early Plantagenets.]

E. M. T.