Bigod, Roger fourth Earl of Norfolk d. 1270, marshal of England, was grandson of Roger, second earl [qv.], and son of Hugh, third earl, by his wife Matilda, daughter of William Marshal, earl of Pembroke. Being a minor at the time of his father's death, early in 1225, his wardship was granted to William de Longespee, earl of Salisbury, but was transferred to Alexander, king of Scotland, on the marriage of Roger with Isabella, the king's sister. In 1233, when he probably came of age, he was knighted by Henry III at Gloucester, and in the same year received livery of the castle of Framlingham. He was head of the commission of justices itinerant into Essex and Hertfordshire, issued 1 Aug. 1234. In 1237 he greatly distinguished himself by his prowess at the tournament at Blythe, Nottinghamshire, in which the rival barons of the north and south had a serious encounter. A serious illness, as late as 1257, was attributed to the exertions he went through on that occasion. He took part in Henry's costly expedition to France in 1242, and displayed great bravery in the skirmish at Saintes, 22 July; but soon after he and other nobles asked leave to retire and returned to England. In the parliament or assembly of the magnates in 1244 Roger Bigod was appointed one of the twelve representatives of the two estates present, lay and clerical, to obtain measures of reform from the king in return for a money grant, and in the next year he was one of the envoys sent to the council of Lyons to protest against papal exactions. Redress was refused, and the embassy retired, threatening and protesting; and in the parliament which met on 18 March 1246, Bigod took part in drawing up a list of grievances and addressing a letter of remonstrance to the pope.
In 1246 also Roger Bigod was invested with the office of earl marshal in right of his mother, eldest daughter of William, earl of Pembroke, on whom it devolved on failure of the male line. Matthew Paris, the chronicler, has narrated two anecdotes of Roger which illustrate his resolute character. In 1249, when the Count of Guines was passing through England, Roger ordered his arrest, in retaliation for a road tax which he had been forced to pay when traversing the count's territories on his embassy to Lyons. And in 1255, when, by speaking in favour of Robert de Ros who was in disgrace, he incurred the king's anger, he openly defied Henry, and did not hesitate to give him the lie when the latter called him traitor.
In 1253 Roger was present at the solemn confirmation of the charters, when sentence of excommunication was formally passed against all who violated them. He was with the king in France in the same year; but in January 1254 was sent to England to obtain money from parliament. Soon after he with other nobles retired in disgust from the army in Gascony. In 1257 he was member of an abortive embassy to France to demand certain rights. The next year he played an important part in the reforms introduced under the title of the Provisions of Oxford, being one of the twelve chosen to represent the barons, and subsequently being also a member of the council formed to advise the king. In 1258 he was one of the ambassadors to attend the conference at Cambray between the representatives of England, France, and Germany. The dissensions which sprang up among the barons in the course of 1259 eventually sent Roger Bigod, together with others, over to the king's side in opposition to Simon de Montfort. It is in reference to the events of this period that he is invoked in the political poem preserved by Rishanger (Wright's Polit. Songs, 121):O tu comes le Bigot, pactum serva sanum;Cum sis miles strenuus, nunc exerce manum.
But the award of the French king, who was appealed to to arbitrate, and who now set aside the Provisions of Oxford, probably ranged Bigod again on the popular side. After the decisive battle of Lewes he is found holding the castle of Oxford for De Montfort's party, and he was one of the five earls who were summoned to the parliament of 1265. Nothing further is known of him to the time of his death in 1270. He was buried at Thetford, and, dying without issue, was succeeded in his honours by his nephew Roger [qv.]. He had put away his wife Isabella of Scotland on the pretext of consanguinity, but took her again in 1253.
Matthew Paris (Rolls Ser.)
Dugdale's Baronage, i. 133
Foss's Judges of England, ii. 241
Stubbs's Constitutional History.
Contributor: E. M. T. [Edward Maunde Thompson]