Friday, 6 June 2014

Roger de Somery, Baron Dudley, Curteys Miniatures

This figure represents the local (to me at least) Baron of Dudley, Roger de Somery. 
Shield of arms for Sir Roger de Somery:
Or two lions passant azure.
Usefully, due to the lack of imagination when it came to thinking up original Christian names, this chap can represent a Roger de Somery throughout the 13th century. There are three barons named Roger de Somery, all associated with Dudley Castle. The cycle was finally broken by John who was apparently a Robber Baron (or a "bad 'un" as my nan would have said). At his death the Dudley estates passed, through marriage, to the Sutton family.
  • Roger de Somery I (d.1225),
  • Roger de Somery II (d.1272),
  • Roger de Somery III (c.1254-1291),
  • John de Somery (1280-1322).
Whoever controlled Dudley Castle were referred to as being King's Men, in the sense that they generally remained loyal to the king (although there are a few notable exceptions). 

In this short post I'm going to try briefly focus on the two later Rogers of the family. It was Roger de Somery II who supported King Henry III during the Barons' revolt, fought (and was captured) along side the King at the Battle of Lewis in 1264. As a reward to his loyalty he was granted permission to castellate his mansion (i.e. turn it into a castle).

Both the second and third Somery's took part in Edward I's campaign against the Welsh Prince Llwelyn ap Gruffudd and his brother Dafydd. After their deaths, another (one of the many during the late 13th century) revolt flared up this time lead by Rhys ap Maredudd of the Welsh royal house of Deheubarth in 1287-88. The English response was led by Earl Edmund of Cornwall as his brother, King Edward I, was overseas at the time. There were several notable sieges including that of Dryswlyn and Newcastle Emlyn castles with de Somery serving under the command of Roger Lestrange.

I have to admit I find it quite difficult keeping track of the Welsh princes and their actions. Not only because I find the names are difficult to pronounce but also because when the Welsh weren't fighting the English (and also fighting with the English), they were fighting amongst themselves.

I will hopefully go into more detail of this small slice of history in the future as I want to make it the basis of a gaming campaign using the forthcoming Lion Rampant rules from Osprey Publishing. So Rhys ap Maredudd may rise again and change the course of history.

The figure itself is from Curteys Miniatures from their 'Feudal Medieval - Western Europe' range.

The heraldry is hand painted and may initially look a bit odd particularly the lions. However it is based directly on the stained glass shaped heraldic medallion John de Somery which can be seen (Here). This glass is probably from the chapel, the remains of which can still be seen at Dudley Castle.

If you fancy your own piece of miniature family history, please feel free to entry my special give-away competition, details of which can be found (Here).

As today is the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings I'd like to dedicate this post to my granddad Perks who died before I ever got a chance to really know him.

Like a great number of other veterans he never talked about the war to his family, including my dad obviously, even when asked. Funnily enough my dad said the only thing his dad mentioned about the war was that he spilt boiling water down his leg in an attempt to dodge taking part in the landings, the punch line being that he was sent anyway. I now believe this was his light-hearted attempt at avoiding talking about his own experiences because I know for a fact he served as a gunner on 25-pounders with the Royal Artillery. He fought all through Normandy, Belgium and eventually was part of the occupying forces in Germany. He always had a family reputation for being some what of a rogue so I suspect he told that story with his usual mischievous look in his eyes, which I can still picture. Anyway, rest in peace Granddad Perks.