Aymer de Valence d. 1324, Earl of Pembroke and lord of Montignac, was the third son of William of Valence, half-brother of Henry III and of Joan, daughter of Warine of Munchensi. His elder brothers died during the lifetime of their father, and Aymer succeeded to the earldom in 1296. He served in Flanders in 1297, and in Scotland in 1298. In 1302 he was employed in an embassy to France, and the following year assisted in making peace with Philip IV. He received a grant of land in Scotland, and built himself a castle at Selkirk. When Edward made war on Robert Bruce in 1306, Aymer was appointed guardian of Scotland, and led the van of the army. Bruce advanced to the neighbourhood of Perth and challenged him to battle. Aymer answered that he would not fight on that day, but on the same evening made a sudden attack on the Scots, and defeated them in the wood of Methven (Trivet). He took captive the wife and daughter of the Scottish king, and crossed to Kantire, hoping to find Bruce himself. There he took Nigel Bruce, and sent him to Berwick, where he was put to death. The next year, on 10 May, he was defeated by Bruce at Loudon Hill, and forced, though without much loss, to retire to the castle of Ayr. There he and the Earl of Gloucester were besieged until the king sent a force to relieve them. On the accession of Edward II, Aymer lost the guardianship of Scotland. He was deeply offended at the insolence of Gaveston, who gave him the nickname of Joseph the Jew, because he was tall and of a pallid countenance (Walsingham). When he and other great nobles attended the tournament held by Gaveston at Wallingford, they were treated with insult, and for this and other reasons they took counsel together against him. In 1309 the earl joined with the other lords at the parliament held at Stamford in sending a letter to Clement V, remonstrating with him on his usurpations. He was one of the foremost of the discontented nobles who the next year were expressly forbidden to attend the parliament in arms. He disregarded the order, and, appearing with the rest in military array, demanded the appointment of a council of reform. The first step in the formation of this council was the choice of two earls by the bishops, and Aymer was one of the two then chosen to select the ordainers. When the king marched northwards, Pembroke and the other ordainers refused to leave London, but sent the number of men they were bound by their service to supply
On the recall of Gaveston in 1312 the lords of Lancaster's party sent the Earls of Pembroke and Warenne against him. They besieged Gaveston in Scarborough Castle. He surrendered on 19 May, receiving a promise from Pembroke that his life should be spared. Pembroke took him towards Wallingford, and lodged him at Deddington. In his absence the Earl of Warwick seized on Gaveston, carried him to Gaversike, and there put him to death. Enraged at the dishonour thus done to his word, Pembroke left the Lancastrian lords, and joined himself to the court party. About this time he and Lord Badlesmere rescued Lady Clifford from the constable of Barnard Castle, who had carried her off. He went to France to seek aid for the king, and on his return negotiated between him and the earls. On 20 Sept. he appeared before a meeting of the Londoners at the Guildhall, and demanded the obedience of the city for the king. A fierce riot broke out, and the earl and his companions barely escaped in safety. His position seems to have been rather that of leader of the party opposed to Lancaster, to whom he never forgave the death of Gaveston, than of a supporter of the king's policy (Stubbs, Const. Hist. ii. 341). He received a grant of the New Temple and of other lands of the Templars in London. After long negotiations, in which Pembroke acted as one of the royal commissioners, peace was made with the Lancastrian earls. The affairs of Scotland demanded instant attention, and the king made him lieutenant of that country, and sent him on to insure the safety of the royal army in its northward march. Pembroke shared in the king's defeat at Bannockburn on 24 June 1314, and saved himself by flight. The next year he was sent with Lord Badlesmere to secure the marches against the Scots (Rymer, Federa, ii. 524). He was also employed to quell the insurrection at Bristol. In 1316 he went on an embassy to the pope. On his way home he was taken prisoner by a Burgundian named Moiller, who declared that the King of England owed him wages for service he had done him. He took the earl into Germany, and kept him until he was ransomed (Murimuth; Leland, Collect. ii. 548, 2nd ed.). In September 1317 he persuaded Edward not to provoke the Earl of Lancaster (Mon. Malm.). On 24 Nov. he entered into a bond with Roger d'Amory and Badlesmere, by which the confederates, who formed themselves into a kind of third party, agreed to work together to gain supreme influence in the council (Stubbs, Const. Hist. ii. 342). The party thus formed rapidly increased in power, and succeeded in effecting a formal pacification of the kingdom. In virtue of this agreement, signed at Leek on 9 Aug. 1318, a new council was appointed, in which Pembroke held a conspicuous place. On 24 March 1319 he sat with the earl marshal in the chapter-house of St. Paul's to hear and compose certain quarrels that had arisen among the citizens of London, and later in the same year accompanied the king on his unfortunate expedition against Berwick. At Christmas he negotiated a two years' truce with the Scots. Although he was at least secretly in league with Roger of Mortimer and the other lords who in 1321 ravaged the lands of the Despensers, he nevertheless assumed the part of a mediator, and pressed the king to banish his favourites. The Earl of Lancaster declared that he had acted treacherously, and advised the discontented lords to have nothing to do with him. When Edward at last took up arms, he once more attempted to mediate, and failing in this attempt, actively upheld the king. On 22 March 1322 he joined in the judgment and condemnation of Lancaster. He received Higham Ferrers and other of the earl's lands in Northamptonshire. Later in the year he accompanied the king in his expedition against Scotland, and on 30 May 1323 arranged a truce of thirteen years with the Scots. In 1324 Pembroke died suddenly near Paris, while on an embassy to Charles IV. He married three times. His third wife, married on 5 July 1321, was Mary of Chatillon, daughter of Guy IV, Count of St. Pol, the foundress of Pembroke Hall at Cambridge. He had no issue by any of his wives, and his childless death was held to be a just punishment of the part he took in the condemnation of the Earl of Lancaster (Walsingham, ii. 195).
Trokelowe, Chron. Monast. S. Albani IV (Rolls Ser.)
Life of Edward II, by Monk of Malmesbury
T. de la Moor
Chron. Edw. I and Edw. II (Rolls Ser.)
Walsingham (Rolls Ser.)
Trivet (Eng. Hist. Soc.)
Hemingburgh (Eng. Hist. Soc.)
Murimuth (Eng. Hist. Soc.)
Rymer's Federa, ii.
Stubbs's Const. Hist. ii., and Introd. to Chron. Edw. I and Edw. II.
Contributor: W. H. [William Hunt]