Roger Machado (d. 1510): A Herald’s Life in Objects (Gemma Watson)

Roger Machado is best known as Richmond King of Arms for Henry VII of England from 1485 to 1510.  He is a very enigmatic figure as the extant evidence for his life (as with most individuals living at this time) is fragmentary at best and he appears to have lived a very nomadic existence living and travelling around Europe throughout his life.  Nevertheless, there is some evidence for his life that we do not have for any other medieval herald; extant physical objects that can be attributed to him.  Machado lived in Southampton between 1486 and 1497 and it was his home there that was the focus of excavations in 1977 and 1978.  A rich assemblage of continental ceramics and Venetian glass was unearthed that have revealed the everyday life of Machado; something few manuscripts can provide.  However, the archaeological evidence is not the only source for Machado that includes objects.  Machado’s extant memorandum book (London, College of Arms, MS Arundel  51, fols 29-88) includes within its pages an inventory and mercantile accounts that refer to objects Machado owned, bought and sold.

The aim of this paper is to show how my research was able employ a material culture perspective when looking at the life of Roger Machado.  My paper will begin by briefly outlining what is known about Machado from the historical sources.  I will then argue that Machado was involved in a plot to overthrow Richard III that resulted in him fleeing England for the Continent to join the pretender Henry Tudor in exile.  I will use his extant inventory and mercantile accounts to support this theory.

The second half of my paper will discuss the archaeological evidence and what it tells us about the everyday life of a herald living in a provincial English town.  The majority of the objects excavated were used during dining, so I will describe how they would have been used in this setting and what their significance was.


Torsten Hiltmann

Torsten Hiltmann is Juniorprofessor for the High and Late Middle Ages and Auxiliary Sciences at the University of Münster. He is interested in new approaches to late medieval and early modern heraldry, the medieval notion of kingship and the methods and technologies of Digital Humanities. On hypotheses.org, he is maintaining, among others, the blog “Heraldica Nova”.

8 Responses

  1. Bob Pritchard says:

    Torsten,

    Two things. Could you tell me if Machdo was at the Battle of Stoke with Henry VII?

    Secondly how do I get hold of your profile/writings of Machado?

    • Dear Bob,
      Me myself, I didn’t write on Machado yet. But I can refer you to the articles and the PhD thesis written by Gemma Watson (https://reading.academia.edu/GemmaWatson), for instance

      Watson, Gemma L. “Roger Machado, Perkin Warbeck and Heraldic Espionage.” Coat of Arms, 3rd, 10, no. 228 (2014): 51–68.

      as well as to

      Jones, Michael. “Les ambassades de Roger Machado, le heraut Richmond en Bretagne (1490).” In 1491. La Bretagne, terre d’Europe. Actes du colloque international de Brest, 2-4 octobre 1991, edited by Jean Kerhevé and Tanguy Daniel, 147–60. Brest: CRBC / Société archéologique du Finistère, 1992.

      and

      Ailes, Adrian. “Machado, Roger [Ruy] (d. 1510).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/17527.

  2. Derek Howard says:

    Henry VII when he won the throne brought his herald, Roger Machado, Richmond, on to the Crown establishment and made him a King of Arms. He created two new ordinary pursuivants, Rouge Dragon and Portcullis, and five new garrison pursuivants, Montorgueil, Risebank, Conk, Hampnes and Dublin, as well as Wallingford for the Prince of Wales. (Wagner: “Heralds of England”, 1967, 56).
    Montorgueil was instituted by Henry VII as “pusevant of Gurnsey”, the title taken from the castle occupied by the Governor of Jersey. The only known holder was Randall Jackson alias Holmes, who received his patent as herald on 7 Apr 1516 at 20 marks per year, but who was thought to possibly have been appointed c.1494 by and known by name as “Ranulph Jackson alias Mount Argule”. His title changed to Chester 1525 but not created as such till 1533 and continued called Montorgueil in the heralds’ partition book. Last mentioned 1545. Arms: Vert a fess between three magpies proper.
    (H Stanford London: “Officers of the College …” in “The College of Arms, Queen Victoria Street, being the sixteenth and final monograph of the London Survey Committee” ed Godfrey and Wagner, 1963, pp 122 & 279).
    In 1501 Jackson had been assigned to the Steward’s department to give attendance on the princess Katherine of Arragon when she arrived from Spain. There is an account of Jackson zealously reporting a comment critical of the king to Cromwell in 1533 (see Wagner, 125 & 173).
    I suggest you try to get hold of a copies of Wagner and of Stanford London which cover much of what is known on all the other heralds and pursuivants of the period.

  3. Julian Wilson says:

    Which continental Museums have examples of medieval and renaissance Heraldic tabards on exhibition, please? Any info. will be gratefully received.

    • I don’t have a list yet, though this would be a nice thing to have (for the heralds’ tabards as well as for staffs and badges). But you could look through my collection of photos and images of heralds on Pinterest. There you will find also a couple of pictures of tabards. Aparently, there are some at the the KHM in Vienna. The link to the board:
      https://www.pinterest.com/thiltmann/heralds/

  4. Julian Wilson says:

    I have been studying Henry VII’s “domus magnificae” in depth since 2005; and this is new work about his Herald, so I’m anxious to read Dr. Watson’s thesis as soon as it becomes available to the public.

    I would also like to read online whatever is known about henry VII’s new heraldic appointments after 22-VIII-1485, including the fate of Richard III’s Falcon Herald Extraordinary and the 5 new “garrison heralds” including Mont Orgeuil.

    • Derek Howard says:

      See my comment at 11:53 above, which mistakenly got attached to the original article rather than your post.

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