Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March

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Edmund Mortimer
Earl of March
Earl of Ulster
Clare Priory, geograph.jpg
Clare Priory, Suffolk, burial place of Edmund Mortimer
Spouse(s) Anne Stafford
Noble family Mortimer
Father Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March
Mother Eleanor Holland
Born (1391-11-06)6 November 1391
New Forest, Westmeath
Died 18 January 1425(1425-01-18) (aged 33)
Trim Castle
Buried Clare Priory,
Arms of Mortimer: Barry or and azure, on a chief of the first two pallets between two base esquires of the second over all an inescutcheon argent

Edmund de Mortimer, 5th Earl of March and 7th Earl of Ulster (6 November 1391 – 18 January 1425), while a young child, was heir presumptive to King Richard II of England. After the deposition of Richard II, because of Mortimer's claim to the crown, he was the focus of plots against King Henry IV and King Henry V. Mortimer was the last Earl of March to come from his family.

Early life[edit]

Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March, was born at New Forest, Westmeath, one of his family's Irish estates,[1] on 6 November 1391, the son of Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March, and Eleanor Holland. He had a younger brother, Roger (born 23 April 1393, died c.1413), and two sisters, Anne, who married Richard, Earl of Cambridge (executed 1415), and Eleanor, who married Sir Edward de Courtenay (d.1418), and had no issue.[2]

Edmund Mortimer's mother was the daughter of Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent, and Alice Arundel, the daughter of Richard de Arundel, 10th Earl of Arundel, and his second wife, Eleanor, daughter of Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster, grandson of King Henry III.[3]

Edmund Mortimer was thus a descendant of Henry III through his mother, and more importantly, a descendant of King Edward III through his grandparents, Edmund Mortimer, 3rd Earl of March, and Philippa Plantagenet, daughter of King Edward III's second surviving son, Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence.[4] Because King Richard II had no issue, Edmund's father, Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March, was heir presumptive during his lifetime, and at his death in Ireland on 20 July 1398 his claim to the crown passed to his eldest son, Edmund.[5]

However on 30 September 1399, when Edmund Mortimer was not yet eight years of age, his fortunes changed entirely. Richard II was deposed by the Lancastrians led by Henry Bolingbroke, who became King Henry IV and had his own son, the future King Henry V, recognized as heir apparent at his first Parliament. The King put the young Edmund and his brother Roger in the custody of Sir Hugh Waterton at Windsor and Berkhampstead castles, but were treated honourably, and for part of the time brought up with the King's own children, John and Philippa.[6]

Rebellion against Henry IV[edit]

On 22 June 1402, Mortimer's uncle, Sir Edmund Mortimer, son of the 3rd Earl, was captured by the Welsh rebel leader, Owain Glyndŵr, at the Battle of Bryn Glas. His suspicions fueled by rumours that Mortimer had fallen into captivity by his own design, Henry IV refused to ransom him, and by October 1402 began confiscating his lands, plate, and jewels.[7] Mortimer then went over to Glyndŵr's side. On 30 November 1402 he married Glyndŵr's daughter, Catrin, and on 13 December 1402 proclaimed in writing that his nephew, Edmund Mortimer, was the rightful heir to King Richard II.[8]

Spurred on by various grievances, including the King's refusal to ransom their kinsman, Sir Edmund Mortimer, in the summer of 1403 the Percys rebelled and took up arms against the King, led by Sir Edmund Mortimer's brother-in-law, Henry 'Hotspur' Percy. According to Bean, it is clear the Percys were in collusion with Glyndŵr. Joined by his uncle, Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester, Henry Percy marched to Shrewsbury where he intended to do battle against a force there under the command of Henry, Prince of Wales. However the army of Percy's father, the Earl of Northumberland was, for reasons never fully explained, slow to move south as well, and it was without Northumberland's assistance that Henry Percy and Worcester arrived at Shrewsbury on 21 July 1403, where they found the King with a large army. The ensuing battle was fierce, with heavy casualties on both sides, but when Henry Percy himself was slain, his forces fled. The Earl of Worcester was executed on 23 July.[9]

The alliance of Glyndŵr and Sir Edmund Mortimer with the Percys survived the setback at Shrewsbury, and in February 1405 Glyndŵr, Mortimer and Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland entered into a tripartite indenture which proposed a threefold division of the kingdom in which Sir Edmund Mortimer was to have most of the south of England,[10] an agreement apparently connected to a plot to free Mortimer's nephew from King Henry's custody and carry him into Wales. On 13 February 1405 the young Edmund Mortimer and his brother, Roger, were abducted from Windsor Castle, but quickly recaptured near Cheltenham. Constance of York was held responsible, and arrested, and implicated her brother, Edward of Langley, 2nd Duke of York, who was arrested and imprisoned at Pevensey Castle for seventeen weeks.[11] As a result of the failed abduction, on 1 February 1406 Edmund Mortimer and his brother were put under stricter supervision at Pevensey Castle under Sir John Pelham (d.1429), where they remained until 1409.[12] On 1 February 1409 Edmund and Roger were given in charge to the King's son, Henry, Prince of Wales, the future King Henry V,[13] who was only five years older than Edmund. They remained in custody for the remainder of Henry IV's reign.

According to Griffiths, Edmund Mortimer's sisters, Anne and Eleanor, who were in the care of their mother until her death in 1405, were not well treated by Henry IV, and were described as 'destitute' after her death.[14]

Reign of Henry V[edit]

On his accession in 1413 Henry V set Edmund Mortimer at liberty, and on 8 April 1413, the day before the new King's coronation, Edmund Mortimer and his brother Roger were made Knights of the Bath.[15] Nothing further is heard of Roger Mortimer, and it seems likely he died in or shortly after 1413.

On 9 June 1413 the King granted Edmund Mortimer livery of his estates.[16] On 24 February 1408 his marriage had been granted to Henry IV's Queen, Joan of Navarre.[14] On 17 January 1415[17] he obtained a papal dispensation to marry ‘a fit woman' related to him in the third degree of kindred or affinity, and wed Anne Stafford, the daughter of Edmund Stafford, 5th Earl of Stafford.[18] Like Mortimer, she was a descendant of Edward III, and according to Griffiths the King was displeased, and imposed a fine of 10,000 marks.[14]

On 16 April 1415 Mortimer was present at the council which determined on war with France,[19] and on 24 July 1415 he was a witness to the King's will.[14] While preparations for the invasion were underway, his brother-in-law, Richard, Earl of Cambridge, conspired to take Mortimer to Wales and proclaim him king. Made privy to their plans, now referred to as the Southampton Plot, Mortimer revealed the conspiracy to the King at Portchester on 31 July, and was on the commission which condemned his brother-in-law, Cambridge, to death. On 7 August he was formally granted a pardon by the King.[14]

According to Griffiths, Mortimer was deeply in debt[14] when he accompanied Henry V's forces to France. He took part in several campaigns in Normandy, including the siege of Harfleur, where he succumbed to dysentery, and was forced to return to England. On 15 August 1416 he was appointed a captain of the expedition sent to relieve Harfleur under John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford, and Sir Walter Hungerford, and was with the army which conquered Normandy in 1417 and 1418. In July 1420 he was at the siege of Melun.[20]

In February 1421 Mortimer accompanied the King back to England with his bride, Catherine of Valois, and bore the sceptre at Catherine's coronation on 21 February. He campaigned again in France with Henry V in June 1421, and was at the Siege of Meaux, shortly after which the King fell mortally ill, and died at Vincennes on 31 August 1422.[20]

Final years[edit]

Trim Castle

Henry V was succeeded by his nine-month-old son, King Henry VI, and on 9 December 1422[21] Mortimer was appointed to the Council of Regency.[6]

On 9 May 1423[22] he was appointed the King's lieutenant in Ireland for nine years, but at first exercised his authority through a deputy, and remained in England.[20] However according to Tout, after a violent quarrel with Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, and the execution of his kinsman, Sir John Mortimer, Mortimer was 'sent out of the way to Ireland'.[6] He arrived there in the autumn of 1424, and on 18 or 19 January 1425[23] died of plague at Trim Castle. In 1414 Mortimer had founded a college of secular canons at Stoke-by-Clare, Suffolk,[6] and he was buried there.[19]

Mortimer had no issue, and at his death the male line of the Earls of March became extinct. The heir to his estates was Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York (1411–1460), the son of his sister, Anne, and Richard, Earl of Cambridge.[6]

His widow, Anne, married, before 6 March 1427, John Holland, 2nd Duke of Exeter. She died 20 or 24 September 1432, and was buried in the church of St Katharine's by the Tower.[18]

The Wigmore chronicle describes Edmund Mortimer as ‘severe in his morals, composed in his acts, circumspect in his talk, and wise and cautious during the days of his adversity'.[6]

Shakespeare and the Mortimers[edit]

Events in the life of Sir Edmund Mortimer, uncle of Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March, were dramatized by Shakespeare in Henry IV, Part 1. In the play Shakespeare accurately identifies Sir Edmund Mortimer as Hotspur's brother-in-law, but simultaneously conflates him with his nephew by referring to him as 'Earl of March'. The Southampton Plot is dramatized in Shakespeare's Henry V.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Keenan 2010, p. 509.
  2. ^ Cokayne 1932, p. 450; Richardson III 2011, p. 195
  3. ^ Richardson III 2011, p. 195; Richardson II 2011, pp. 496–8.
  4. ^ Richardson III 2011, pp. 193–5;
  5. ^ Tout 1894, p. 124.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Tout 1894, pp. 123–5.
  7. ^ Pugh 1988, pp. 14, 37.
  8. ^ Tout 1894, pp. 122–3.
  9. ^ Walker 2004; Bean 2004.
  10. ^ Bean 2004; Tout 2004.
  11. ^ Tait 1896, p. 403.
  12. ^ Griffiths 2004; Lock 2004; Pugh 1988, p. 78.
  13. ^ Pugh 1988, p. 79.
  14. ^ a b c d e f Griffiths 2004.
  15. ^ Pugh 1988, p. 78.
  16. ^ Pugh 1988, p. 79; Cokayne 1932, p. 451
  17. ^ Griffiths dates the dispensation to February.
  18. ^ a b Richardson III 2011, pp. 196–7.
  19. ^ a b Cokayne 1932, p. 451
  20. ^ a b c Cokayne 1932, p. 452
  21. ^ Griffiths says Mortimer was appointed to the regency council in November 1422.
  22. ^ Griffiths dates the appointment to March 1423.
  23. ^ Richardson III 2011, p. 196.

References[edit]

Attribution

External links[edit]

Ancestry[edit]

Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March
House of Mortimer
Born: 6 November 1391 Died: 18 January 1425
English royalty
Preceded by
Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March
Heir to the English Throne
as heir presumptive

20 July 1398 – 30 September 1399
Succeeded by
Henry, Prince of Wales
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Roger Mortimer
Earl of March
1398–1425
Succeeded by
Richard Plantagenet
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
Roger Mortimer
Earl of Ulster
1398–1425
Succeeded by
Richard Plantagenet