Badlesmere, Bartholomew c.1275-1322, servant of the Crown, was the son and heir of Guncelin Badlesmere (died 1301), of Badlesmere, Kent, and his wife Joan, daughter of Ralph FitzBernard of Kingsdown, Kent. Like his father, who was a royal banneret and justice of Chester from 1274 to 1281, Badlesmere made his way in the world through service to the Crown. First summoned to serve in Gascony in 1294, he accompanied Edward I to Flanders in 1297, fought at Falkirk in 1298, and by 1299 was one of the kings household knights. His representing Kent in the Carlisle parliament of 1307 was a mark of corresponding importance in his own pays. Edward IIs accession later that year accelerated his rise. He was made constable of Bristol Castle in August 1307 and began to receive numerous royal grants. Only during the prolonged crisis caused by the opposition of the reforming Ordainers to the kings favourite, Piers Gaveston [qv.], in 1310-12 did his loyalties waver. He was among those barons who petitioned Edward for reform in March 1310, and in 1312 he was ordered to surrender Bristol Castle, probably the sign of a more open opposition. But after Gavestons execution in June 1312 he returned to a more comfortable position at the kings side.
By this time he had a firm place in baronial society. His early connections had been with Henry de Lacy. third Earl of Lincoln [qv.], whose retainer he was by October 1300, and with Robert de Clifford, first Baron of Westmoreland [qv.], the northern magnate, with whom he served in Edward Is later Scottish campaigns. He had a closer association with Gilbert de Clare, ninth Earl of Gloucester [qv.], perhaps resulting from his marriage, before 30 June 1308 (Cal. Pat. Rolls, 1307-13, p. 83), to Margaret de Clare, Gloucesters cousin. As Gloucesters knight he earned an ignominious name at Bannockburn in 1314 by leaving his lord to his death in the mêlée.
Badlesmere was by now one of the kings chief councillors and lieutenants. Together with Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke [qv.] (often his partner in these years), he led an expedition to the north in 1315; in 1316 he took a major role in the suppression of the Welsh rising of Llywelyn ab Rhys (Llewelyn Bren) [qv.] and of the revolt at Bristol; and in the same year he was among the committee of bishops and magnates appointed to reform the royal household. In September 1316 Edward retained him for a very large fee in return for the promise of his service with a commensurately large retinue; and shortly afterwards he and Pembroke set off for the papal curia on a mission which had the repeal of the Ordinances as one of its objectives.
All these activities point to Badlesmeres standing at Edwards court. He was, however, on the courts moderate wing. In 1317 he and Pembroke combined to restrain the most avaricious of the courtiers, Roger Damory [qv.], in order to placate the courts leading opponent, Thomas, Earl of Lancaster [qv.]; and he went on to play a part in the negotiations with Lancaster which culminated in the treaty of Leake in 1318. But his appointment as steward of the royal household in November 1318 was both a snub to Lancaster, who claimed the right of appointment, and a mark of his growing association with Hugh le Despenser the younger [qv.], the chamberlain of the household and the rising star at court. He remained very close to Edward, particularly as the kings negotiator with the Scots, until June 1321, when, at Sherburn in Yorkshire, he deserted to the baronial party which was forming against the two Despensers. Resentment at the younger Despensers dominance at court, and his own links with the marchers who formed the core of the opposition—his daughter Elizabeth married the son and heir of Roger Mortimer, eighth Baron of Wigmore [qv.], in 1316—may account for this dramatic change of sides. It did him no good. Lancaster, the oppositions leader, refused to receive him and Badlesmere returned to Kent. There, his wifes exclusion of Queen Isabella [qv.] from Leeds Castle in October 1321 inaugurated the short and violent civil war which ended with Lancasters defeat at Boroughbridge in March 1322. Badlesmere fought with the rebels at Boroughbridge, but escaped, only to be captured and subsequently hanged and decapitated in Canterbury 14 April 1322.
Badlesmere left one son, Giles (1314-38), and four daughters. Through the favour of the king and of the Earl of Gloucester he built up a large estate in Kent and elsewhere: a royal grant of 1315 enumerates lands in forty-six places spread through eight counties. To judge by his employment, he was an able man, who owed his promotion to both his diplomatic and military skills and his energetic acquisitiveness. That such a natural loyalist should have met a traitors end reflects all Edward IIs failings as a political manager.
J. C. Davies, The Baronial Opposition to Edward II, 1918
C. Moor, Knights of Edward I, vol. i, 1929
J. R. Maddicott, Thomas of Lancaster, 1307-22, 1970
J. R. S. Phillips, Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, 1972
N. Fryde, The Tyranny and Fall of Edward II, 1321-26, 1979.
Contributor: J. R. Maddicott