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.