Roger Bigod, 2nd Earl of Norfolk

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Roger Bigod, 2nd Earl of Norfolk
Coat of arms of Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk and Suffolk.png
Arms adopted by Roger Bigod, 2nd Earl of Norfolk, at the start of the Age of Heraldry c.1200-1215 (dropped post-1269 by Roger Bigod, 5th Earl of Norfolk): Or, a cross gules
Noble family Bigod family
Spouse(s) Ida de Tosny
Issue Hugh Bigod, 3rd Earl of Norfolk
William Bigod
Ralph Bigod
Roger Bigod
Margery de Hastings
Mary Bigod
Father Hugh Bigod, 1st Earl of Norfolk
MotherJuliana de Vere

Roger Bigod (c.1144/1150 1221) was the son of Hugh Bigod, 1st Earl of Norfolk and his first wife, Juliana de Vere. Although his father died 1176 or 1177, Roger did not succeed to the earldom of Norfolk until 1189 for his claim had been disputed by his stepmother for her sons by Earl Hugh in the reign of Henry II. Richard I confirmed him in his earldom and other honours, and also sent him as an ambassador to France in the same year. Roger inherited his father's office as royal steward. He took part in the negotiations for the release of Richard from prison, and after the king's return to England became a justiciar.

During the Revolt of 1173–74, Roger remained loyal to the king while his father sided with the king's rebellious sons. Roger fought at the Battle of Fornham on 17 October 1173, where the royalist force defeated a rebel force led by Robert de Beaumont, 3rd Earl of Leicester. [1]

In most of the years of the reign of King John, the earl was frequently with the king or on royal business. Yet Roger was to be one of the leaders of the baronial party which obtained John's assent to Magna Carta, and his name and that of his son and heir Hugh II appear among the twenty-five barons who were to ensure the king's adherence to the terms of that document. The pair were excommunicated by the pope in December 1215, and in 1216 John marched to East Anglia with a force of mercenaries and laid siege to Roger's seat of Framlingham Castle. Bigod was away, but Framlingham's garrison has 26 knights, 20 sergeants-at-arms, 7 crossbowmen, 1 chaplain and 3 others, perhaps enough to hold out until Roger returned to command support. Yet the castle surrendered two days, most likely for political expediency. The loss of the castle was temporary (Bigod made peace with the regents of John's son Henry III in 1217) but Roger seems to have retired from public life after this time. He died in 1221, his lands intact, the Bigod powerhouse secured and himself a respected figure.

Framlingham Castle, Bigod's main seat Franglingham Castle 01.jpg
Framlingham Castle, Bigod’s main seat

Around Christmas 1181, Roger married Ida, apparently Ida de Tosny (or Ida de Toesny), [2] and by her had a number of children including:

  1. Hugh Bigod, 3rd Earl of Norfolk who married in 1206/ 1207, Maud, a daughter of William Marshal
  2. William Bigod
  3. Ralph Bigod
  4. Roger Bigod
  5. Margery, married William de Hastings
  6. Mary Bigod, married Ralph fitz Robert [3]

Many historians, including Marc Morris have speculated that the couple had a third daughter, Alice, who married Aubrey de Vere IV, Earl of Oxford as his second wife. If so, the marriage would have been well within the bounds of consanguinity, for the couple would have been quite closely related, a daughter of the second earl of Norfolk being first cousin once removed to the second earl of Oxford.

Roger Bigod in fiction

Roger Bigod and his wife Ida de Tosny are the main characters in Elizabeth Chadwick's The Time of Singing (Sphere, 2008), published in the USA as For the King's Favor. They appear as minor characters in other of her books set at the same time, notably To Defy a King, which concerns the marriage of their son Hugh to Maud, a daughter of William Marshal. As Bigot, Bigod also appears as a character in the play King John by William Shakespeare.

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The Battle of Fornham was a battle fought during the Revolt of 1173–74.

Alice of Hainault, Countess Marshal, was the daughter of John de Avenes, Count of Hainault, and Philippine, daughter of the Count of Luxembourg. She was the second wife of Roger Bigod, 5th Earl of Norfolk, Earl Marshal of England.

William Bigod, the heir to the Norfolk earldom, drowned in the disaster of the White Ship as she set sail from Normandy in 1120. The ship also carried the son of the King of England Henry I, William Adelin, who also died. The succession of Henry I to the throne of England was secured not only by the mysterious death of his brother King William II Rufus but by the defeat of his eldest brother Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy. The death of Henry's heir to the throne set in motion a succession crisis that lasted many years.

William de Hastings, was an English soldier and noble.


  1. Bartlett, Robert C. (2000). England Under the Norman and Angevin Kings: 1075–1225 . Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp.  257–258. ISBN   0-19-822741-8.
  2. For Ida's ancestry, see "Some corrections and additions to the Complete Peerage: Volume 9: Summary" and Marc Morris's The Bigod Earls of Norfolk in the Thirteenth Century
  3. S. D. Church, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Peerage of England
Preceded by Earl of Norfolk
Succeeded by