Roger stayed loyal to Henry II when three of Henry's sons rebelled in 1173-4, while his father sided with the rebels. In the Battle of Fornham (October 1174) Roger fought on the side of the king, and his father was with the opposing forces.
Dispute over Inheritance
Roger's father Hugh repudiated his mother and remarried, his second wife being Gundred. When Hugh died in 1177, Gundred lodged a claim to Bigod lands. An appeal was made to Henry II, who used the opportunity to take the disputed lands into royal possession. Some of the lands held by his father were restored to Roger in 1182 but it was not until the accession of Richard I that Roger was confirmed as Earl of Norfolk and hereditary Steward of the the king's household. Inheritance difficulties with his half-brother Hugh dragged on until 1199, when a dispute over lands worth £30 a year was finally settled.
Reign of Richard I
In 1189 Roger was present at the coronation of Richard I. Roger's fortunes soon improved. That year he served as ambassador to Philippe-Auguste of France in connection with arrangements for the Third Crusade. In 1191 Hereford Castle was entrusted to him. From 1191 he served as a judge both at Westminster and on eyre circuit. In 1193 he took part in negotiations for the release of Richard I from captivity in Germany. When Richard I was crowned for a second time in 1194, Roger was one of four earls who held a silk canopy over the king's head - a sign of favour. From 1194 to 1196 he was a Baron of the Exchequer. In 1197 he was Chief Judge in the royal court.
Around this time Roger began rebuilding the Bigod castle at Framlingham, Suffolk, which Henry II had destroyed in 1176.
Reign of King John
Roger attended the coronation of King John in 1199. He continued in royal favour in the first decade of John's reign. In 1200 he was made Warden of Romford Forest. That year he was one of the barons who escorted the King of Scotland when he came to pay homage to King John for his English lands.
Roger is recorded as accompanying King John to Normandy in 1200, and taking part in campaigns in Poitou, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
In 1211 he negotiated a lifetime respite for the payment of scutage on his extensive landholdings, and a reduction in future payments. But in 1213 he appears to have suffered a brief period of custody for reasons which are not known. That same year he headed a commission appointed to investigate an ecclesiastical dispute in the Diocese of Ely.
In 1214 Roger went with King John to Poitou. But the following year he joined in the baronial unrest which led to the Magna Carta, of which he was one of the Surety Barons. During the subsequent rebellion, Roger was excommunicated and his lands were made forfeit, and in 1216 his castle at Framlingham was captured by the royalist forces.
Reign of Henry III
Roger finally returned to royal allegiance in 1217, and his lands were restored. He appears to have retired largely from active life - he was into old age - as his name hardly features in subsequent State records.
Roger died before 2 August 1221, when his son Hugh came into his inheritance.
Roger held extensive lands spread across a number of counties. In 1211, when he compounded with King John over scuttle, they amounted to some 160 knights' fees., when his son Hugh came into his inheritance. His inheritance from his father included the Barony of Framlingham.
Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Biography
by Professor Nigel Saul
"The Bigods were a major East Anglian landowning family, based at Framlingham (Suffolk), who had held the earldom of Norfolk since its grant to Hugh Bigod in 1140 or 1141. Roger (c. 1143-1221) was the only son of this Hugh by his first wife, Juliana, sister of Aubrey de Vere, earl of Oxford.
"Roger’s father had left him a tangled inheritance. He had repudiated his son’s mother and had subsequently married Gundreda, daughter of Roger, earl of Warwick, by whom he had two more sons, Hugh and William, for whom their mother, after their father’s death in 1176 or 1177, sought to make provision out of the family inheritance at their elder half-brother’s expense. Henry II, savouring the opportunity to gain his revenge on Hugh for his involvement in the rebellion against him in 1173-4, deliberately left the case unresolved, refused to allow the son to succeed to the father’s earldom, and confiscated the lands in dispute between the heir and the half-blood. Roger was only able to vindicate his rights on Richard I’s accession in 1189, when the earldom was granted to him on payment of the relatively low relief of one thousand marks (£666).
"Thereafter Roger enjoyed a long and honourable career in royal service. He served Richard as a justice in eyre (i.e. itinerant judge) and as a baron of the exchequer. In John’s reign he took part in the defence of Normandy, and after 1206 served on campaigns in Poitou and within the British Isles. In 1215, however, he went over to the opposition, joining the rebel barons in their muster at Stamford. In part, his involvement on the rebel arose in response to the financial pressures exerted on him by the king. The scutage – money due in lieu of personal military service – that the earl owed from his many estates was so substantial that in 1211 he was driven to striking a deal with the exchequer to pay 2000 marks (£1333) for respite during his lifetime from demands for arrears and for liability to a reduced sum in future. Roger had various other grievances against the king. One at least related to litigation. In 1207, when a legal action had been brought against him in the royal courts, he objected to the chosen jurors on grounds of their likely bias, but his arguments had been ignored by the king, who ordered the case to proceed.
"Roger was joined in his rebellion by his son and heir Hugh, who was already of full age, and the two stood in the forefront of the opposition in East Anglia. In March 1216 the king succeeded in taking the family’s main castle at Framlingham and put pressure on the earl by pardoning those of his followers whom he captured, while condemning those who refused to submit to forfeiture of their lands. Roger and Hugh did not return to their allegiance until after the general peace settlement agreed with Henry III’s Minority government at Kingston-on-Thames in September 1217. By April of the following year the earl had received back all his lands and titles, but, by now over 70, he was in semi-retirement and he died three years later in 1221. He was succeeded as earl by his son, another of the Twenty Five, who in 1206 or 1207 had married Matilda, daughter of the future Regent, William Marshal, earl of Pembroke. The son died in February 1225."
Roger was 2nd Earl of Norfolk of the second creation of the title, and 4th Earl of Norfolk overall.
Roger Bigod's birth date is uncertain. Douglas Richardson says he was born before 1140; the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography says he was born in about 1143. Neither Cawley nor Cokayne give a birth date.
The following persons have been previously shown on WikiTree as children of Roger le Bigod but are not verified by Richardson or Cawley and are therefore no longer linked, pending establishment of documentation that they are in fact children of Roger le Bigod.
Medlands names a further daughter, Basilia, citing the Liber Vitae of Durham. The first edition of this also appears to name further children, G G Dapifer and Henricus Capellanus. These three names were added in an empty space between a Bigod entry and the end of a page, and almost certainly not intended to represent children of Roger. There was a 2002 thread about this in soc.genealogy.medieval.
↑Soc.genealogy.medieval, 'Liber Vitae and the family of Roger and Ida Bigod', thread started by Rosie Bevan on 1 August 2002
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry for 'Bigod, Roger, second earl of Norfolk (c. 1143–1221), print and online 2004, revised online 2006, available online via some libraries
Cokayne, G E. Complete Peerage, revised edition, Vol. IX, St Catherine Press, 1936, pp. 586-589, NORFOLK IV
Richardson, Douglas. Royal Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 5 vols, ed. Kimball G. Everingham. Salt Lake City: the author, 2013. See also WikiTree's source page for ‘’Royal Ancestry’’. Vol. I pp. 362-364
Richardson, Douglas. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 4 vols, ed. Kimball G. Everingham, 2nd edition (Salt Lake City: the author, 2011), Vol. I, pp. 197-200, BIGOD 1
Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, entry for 'Bigod, Roger (d.1221)', Wikisource
Cawley, Charles. Medieval Lands, database online (Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, 2006-2013), English Earls 1067-1122, Chapter 5, Norfolk, B. EARLS of NORFOLK 1142-1306 (BIGOD): Hugh Bigod 1. Roger Bigod, son of Hugh Bigod
Morris, Marc. The Bigod Earls of Norfolk in the Thirteenth Century, Google Books
For additional information about early baronies, see the top-level category page Early English Feudal Baronies. Individual category pages (links below) should include information specific to the category.
Magna Carta Project
As a surety baron, Roger Bigod's profile is managed by the Magna Carta Project. See Bigod-2 Descendants for profiles of his descendants that have been improved and categorized by the Magna Carta project and are in a project-approved trail to a Gateway Ancestor. See this index for links to other surety barons and category pages for their descendants. See the project's Base Camp for more information about Magna Carta trails.
This profile was revised for the Magna Carta Project by Michael Cayley in December 2019.