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Brookfield Ancestor Project - Surety Barons

Magna Charta Baron Page
Roger Bigod
Earl of Norfolk (and Suffolk)

Bigod Shield

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WURTS’ MAGNA CHARTA provided a brief accounting of the feudal headquarters of some of the Magna Charta Barons. Some of the castles have been badly damaged. Some have disappeared entirely. Often we can learn of them through Medieval and Renaissance accounts, and some of them require the discerning eye of the archeologist. Others await the evidence brought out with a shovel and pick, by the trained archeological historian.

A portion of the information concerning Surety Baron ROGER BIGOD is as follows:

Bigod is the name associated with Framlingham Castle in Suffolk. It is an imposing structure. The outer walls are forty-four feet high and eight feet thick. Thirteen towers fifty-eight feet in height remain, along with a gateway and some outworks. In early Roman times it was probably the site of the fortified earthwork that sheltered Saint Edmund when he fled from the Danes in 870, but we cannot be sure of the authenticity of this tradition. The Danes seized the fort, but they lost it in 921; it then remained a Crown possession, which passed into the hands of William the Conqueror when he became King. In 1100 Henry I granted the Castle to Roger Bigod, and possibly Roger was the one to erect the first masonry building.

The ruins indicate a 12th Century dating, though material from an older building may very well have been used in the walls. Evidently the Castle was completely rebuilt in 1170. It remained in the Bigod family for some generations, then passed into the hands of the Mowbrays.

ROGER BIGOD, the Surety, was born about 1150 and succeeded as second Earl of Norfolk and Suffolk. It is fitting that, after Richard's return to England after his captivity in Germany, Roger Bigod was chosen to be one of the four Earls who carried the silken canopy for the King, as Hugh Bigod had borne the Royal sceptre in the Royal procession.

Roger Bigod was appointed in 1189 by King Richard one of the Ambassadors to King Philip of France, to obtain aid for the recovery of the Holy Land. In 1191 he was keeper of Hereford Castle. He was chief judge in the King's Court from 1195 to 1202. In 120() he was sent by King John as one of his messengers to summon William the Lion, King of Scotland, to do homage to him in the Parliament which was held at Lincoln, and subsequently attended King John into Poitou; but on his return he was won over to the opposition by the rebel Barons and became one of the strongest advocates of the Charter of Liberty, for which he was excommunicated by Pope Innocent III He died before August 1221, having married as his first wife, Isabella daughter of Hameline Plantagenet, who was descended from the Earls of Warren.

Appreciation is expressed to Reed M. W. Wurts, one of the Heralds of the Society for furnishing the Baron’s Shield on this page.

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