Edmund Mortimer, son of the 3rd Earl

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Sir Edmund Mortimer
Ludlow Castle from Whitcliffe, 2011.jpg
Ludlow Castle, birthplace of Edmund Mortimer
Spouse(s) Catrin ferch Owain Glyndŵr
Noble family Mortimer
Father Edmund Mortimer, 3rd Earl of March
Mother Philippa Plantagenet
Born 10 December 1376
Ludlow Castle, Shropshire
Died 1409

Sir Edmund Mortimer (10 December 1376[1] – 1409), who had a claim to the crown through his mother, Philippa Plantagenet, played a part in the rebellions of the Welsh leader, Owain Glyndŵr, and the Percys, and perished at the siege of Harlech.

Edmund Mortimer, born 10 December 1376 at Ludlow Castle in Shropshire,[2] was the second son of Edmund Mortimer, 3rd Earl of March, by his wife Philippa Plantagenet. He was a grandson of Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence, and thus a great-grandson of King Edward III. He had an elder brother, Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March, and two sisters, Elizabeth, who married Henry 'Hotspur' Percy, and Philippa (1375-1401), who married firstly John Hastings, 3rd Earl of Pembroke (d.1389), secondly Richard Fitzalan, 11th Earl of Arundel (1346-1397), and thirdly, Sir Thomas Poynings.[3]

Edmund was financially well provided for, both by his father, who died when Edmund was 5 years old, and by his elder brother, Roger.[4]

Claim to throne[edit]

Edmund was a supporter of his cousin, Henry Bolingbroke,[4] later King Henry IV, despite his own claim to the throne by reason of the fact that his grandfather, Lionel of Antwerp, was King Edward III's second surviving son, while Bolingbroke's father, John of Gaunt, was King Edward III's third surviving son.

When his elder brother, Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March, was slain at Kells in Ireland on 20 July 1398,[2] Edmund became responsible for protecting the interests of Roger's young son, Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March, who also had a claim to the throne as heir to his father.[4]

Capture by Owain Glyndŵr[edit]

Both Edmund Mortimer and his brother-in-law, Henry 'Hotspur' Percy, fought for Henry IV against the Welsh rebel leader, Owain Glyndŵr. However at the Battle of Bryn Glas on 22 June 1402 Mortimer was defeated, allegedly because some of his Welsh forces had defected, and he was taken prisoner.[4]

His suspicions fuelled by rumours that Mortimer had fallen into captivity by his own design, King Henry forbade the Percys to seek their kinsman's ransom, and by October 1402 began seizing Mortimer's estates, plate and jewels. Mortimer thereupon transferred his allegiance to Glyndŵr. On 30 November 1402 he married Glyndŵr's daughter, Catrin, and on 13 December 1402 proclaimed in writing that he had joined Glyndŵr in his efforts to restore King Richard to the throne, if alive, and if dead, to make his nephew, Edmund Mortimer, King of England.[4]

In the summer of 1403 the Percys rebelled and took up arms against the King. According to Bean, it is clear that the Percys were in collusion with Glyndŵr. Mortimer's brother-in-law, Henry 'Hotspur' Percy, and Hotspur's uncle, Thomas Percy, 1st Earl of Worcester, moved south with their army. However the army of Hotspur's father, Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland was, for reasons never fully explained, slow to move south as well, and it was without Northumberland's assistance that Hotspur and Worcester met Henry IV's forces at the Battle of Shrewsbury on 21 July 1403, and were defeated. Hotspur was slain, and the Earl of Worcester executed two days later.[5]

The alliance of Glyndŵr and Edmund Mortimer with the Percys survived the setback at Shrewsbury, and in February 1405 Glyndwr, Mortimer and Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland entered into the Tripartite Indenture which proposed a threefold division of the kingdom in which Mortimer was to have most of the south of England, an agreement apparently connected to the unsuccessful attempted abduction of Mortimer's nephew, Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March in the same month, and Northumberland's second rising in May 1405.[4]

However after the Battle of Shrewsbury, Glyndŵr's own attacks on the King's forces were largely unsuccessful, and according to Tout, 'Mortimer himself was reduced to great distress'. He died in 1409, either during or shortly after the eight-month siege of Glyndŵr's stronghold of Harlech Castle by Henry IV's son, Henry, Prince of Wales.[4]

Edmund Mortimer and his wife Catrin had one son, Lionel, and three daughters. After Mortimer's death the King had Catrin and her daughters brought to London, where they were held in custody. In 1413 she and two of her daughters were buried at St Swithin, London Stone.[2]

Shakespeare and Sir Edmund Mortimer[edit]

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


Family connections[edit]


  1. ^ Cokayne and Tout give his date of birth as 9 November 1376.
  2. ^ a b c Richardson III 2011, p. 195.
  3. ^ Cokayne 1932, p. 448; Richardson II 2011, pp. 190–1; Richardson III 2011, pp. 193–5, 307, 335, 341; Holmes 2004; Tout & Davies 2004.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Tout & Davies 2004.
  5. ^ Bean 2004.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Burke's 1883, p. 384.
  7. ^ a b Burke's 1883, p. 19.
  8. ^ a b c d Burke's 1883, p. 372.
  9. ^ Burke's 1883, p. 242.
  10. ^ Burke's & 1883 p242.
  11. ^ Burke's 1883, p. 120.
  12. ^ Buke's 1883, p. 384.
  13. ^ a b Burke's 1883, p. 432.


Further reading[edit]