Ward's Book of Days.

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What happened on this day in history.

JULY 20th  

On this day in history in 1398, died Roger de Mortimer.  

Mortimer was heir presumptive to the throne, whose untimely death lead ultimately to the Wars of The Roses.

Roger de Mortimer, 4th Earl of March, 6th Earl of Ulster was born on 11th April 1374, the son of Edmund de Mortimer and Philippa, the only daughter of Lionel, Duke of Clarence, son of Edward III. As Mortimerís mother, Phillipa, was the senior descendant of the Royal Line, she was due to succeed the king, Richard II, if he died childless. When Phillipa died in 1381, Mortimer became heir to the throne. His cousin, Richard II married in 1383, was widowed in 1394 and had no children. In 1396 he married the six year old Princess Isabella of Valois, so it was probable that he would be childless, at least for the foreseeable future.

When Mortimer came of age, he was publicly acknowledged as heir to the throne and given the position of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. In 1388, Mortimer married Eleanor Holland, daughter of the Earl of Kent, by whom he had two children Anne and Edmond. Mortimer tried to manage Ireland but with little success. His chief duties as Lord Lieutenant were to appease the Irish chieftains and prevent rebellions, and also to put down any rebellions that did arise. Mortimer adopted the costume of an Irish chieftain but was never accepted by the Irish nobility. Under his rule, rebellion became a regular hazard and, although he was outstanding at pitched battles, he met his end in 1398, at the Battle of Kells, leaving his titles and the presumptive right to the throne to his eight year old son.

In 1398, when Richard II found himself at odds with the nobility, he was deposed by his cousin, Henry of Lancaster, who, having no fear of the young boy Mortimer, seized the throne for himself and crowned himself Henry IV. Mortimerís descendants married into the House of York, and when the Lancastrian king Henry VI, reached the nadir of unpopularity, the House of York claimed their right to the crown, thus precipitating the Wars of the Roses.

Mortimerís heraldic emblem was the white rose, a bloom which thrived on the Mortimer estates in the Welsh Marches. The York party adopted this as their symbol of opposition to the Lancastrians, who in turn, took the red rose as their icon of hostility with the Yorkists.

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