FitzGerald, James fitz Maurice (a.1500–1529), 11th earl of Desmond , was son of Maurice fitz Thomas FitzGerald (qv), 10th earl of Desmond, and Ellen Roche. He appears to have taken control of the earldom sometime before his father's death (1520), in a period when Desmond interests were under extreme pressure. He was allowed to inherit his father's lands and was promised a general pardon on condition that he swore to do his duty as a good Englishman. Desmond pursued a much more confrontational policy than did his father, especially against Piers Butler (qv). The lieutenant, Thomas Howard (qv), earl of Surrey, attempted to mediate between Desmond and Butler at Waterford in July 1520, but the agreement broke down by September. Desmond remained aloof from Anglo-Irish politics for several years, preferring to secure his position in Munster. He attempted to assert his supremacy over the MacCarthys but was defeated by Cormac Óg MacCarthy (qv) in September 1521. He had grandiose plans for allying with foreign powers to secure his authority in Munster and remove the English administration. In June 1523 Desmond signed an agreement with Francis I, king of France, to support the claims of the Yorkist pretender Richard de la Pole. When this plan failed, he turned his attention to the Butlers and began open warfare against Piers Butler, who was engaged in a power struggle with Gerald FitzGerald (qv), 9th earl of Kildare. Butler had allied himself with Domhnall MacCarthy (qv) of Cairbre and some of Desmond's own relatives, and in turn Desmond allied himself with Piers' enemies within the Butler family. Desmond may have received clandestine aid from Kildare but his activities were too destabilising for the Anglo-Irish administration to ignore. An act of attainder had been drawn up against him as early as 1522, but no parliament met to enact it during his lifetime. In December 1527 Desmond invaded Butler territory but was forced back to Dungarvan, where he was besieged by Piers's son, James, Lord Butler (qv), and his own uncle, Thomas fitz Thomas FitzGerald (qv). He escaped to Youghal, but Dungarvan was granted to the Butlers. Desmond embarked on his most ambitious scheme when he contacted the emperor Charles V for aid against Henry VIII. The emperor was initially interested and sent his chaplain, Gonzalo Fernandez, to Desmond as an envoy in 1529. However, nothing came of these grandiose plans, as Desmond died suddenly on 18 June 1529 at Rathkeale. He was buried in Tralee, and as he had only one daughter, Joan, from his marriage to the daughter of Toirdhealbhach Ó Briain (d. 1525), bishop of Killaloe, the earldom of Desmond passed to his uncle Thomas.
CSPI; L & P Hen. VIII; Steven G. Ellis, Tudor Ireland (1985)