The Tudor Society

21 December 1495 – Death of Jasper Tudor

Ruins of Keynsham Abbey

Ruins of Keynsham Abbey

On 21st December 1495, Jasper Tudor, 1st Duke of Bedford and 1st Earl of Pembroke, died at his manor at Thornbury at the age of around sixty-four. His entrails were buried at the parish church at Thornbury and the rest of his remains were laid to rest at Keynsham Abbey, according to the instructions he left in his will of 15th December.

Jasper's biographer, Debra Bayani, writes of Jasper's funeral procession:

On the way from Thornbury to the market town of Keynsham close to Bristol, Jasper's funeral procession halted at Kingswood, where they were met by ‘the Maire and his brethren […] with iiml men on horsebake, all in blake gownes, and so brought his body to Keynsham, for the which the said Maire and his brethren had grete thankes of the King’. The king and queen, with an escort of spiritual and temporal nobles, also travelled to Keynsham for the interment in the abbey.

As Bayani notes, "only part of the foundations of the twelfth-century Augustine abbey now survive. The abbey and Jasper's tomb were
not spared by Henry VIII and did not survive the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539", so it is impossible to visit Jasper's tomb. However, it is possible to visit St Mary the Virgin's Church, Thornbury, where his entrails were buried.

Jasper was the second son of Owen Tudor and Catherine of Valois, half-brother of Henry VI and uncle of Henry VII. It was alleged that he had an illegitimate daughter, Helen or Ellen, who was the mother of Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester.

Today is also the anniversary of the death of Marguerite of Navarre (also known as Margaret of Navarre, Marguerite of Angoulême and Marguerite de France) in Odos, in France. You can read more about her in an article I wrote for The Anne Boleyn Files - click here.

Notes and Sources

Image: Ruins of Keynsham Abbey, © Copyright Rick Crowley and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

  • Bayani, Debra (2015) Jasper Tudor: Godfather of the Tudor Dynasty, Chapter 16.

There are 44 comments Go To Comment

  1. R

    Why did Jasper instruct his entrails to be removed and buried apart from his body!?

    1. C - Post Author

      This was a common practice in that era – see my reply to Laureen.

    2. T

      Chrissy, I think that is awesome. I would be overwhelmed if that was me. I was born in Tasmania, and now live in Bendigo, Victoria. My Convict Ancestors came out on the First Fleet, I would love to know my ancestry and yours is fantastic….

  2. L

    I am also interested in knowing the reason that Jasper Tudor would direct persons to separate his entrails from his body and bury in 2 separate locations. Why would he want this?

    1. C - Post Author

      This was quite a common practice and it might be that there were two places that were important to him. According to Hampton Court Palace, Queen Jane Seymour’s heart is buried at the palace in the Chapel Royal and the rest of her remains are buried at St George’s Chapel. Other examples are Sir David Williams, Serjeant-at-Law in Elizabeth I’s reign, whose body was buried at Brecon but his entrails at Kingston, and Sir Martin Frobisher, the navigator, whose entrails were buried at Plymouth and his body in London.

  3. C

    I live near there and never knew this. Very interesting to me. Thank you for sharing.

  4. S

    It was common for noble people to have their hearts and entrails buried sperately from the rest of their bodies. Most of my ancestors practiced this in medieval times. It was a Christian practice.

  5. E

    This post brings up a question that I had not yet considered until now–Jasper Tudor would have been Henry VIII’s great uncle, I believe, as well as essentially a grandfather, in that Jasper was the shield and guardian of Henry VII. Did the destruction of the Abbey give the unintended consequence of destroying Jasper Tudor’s tomb, or was this possibly done on purpose? I may have internalized fiction here, and would not have thought that Henry, especially in 1539, would have deliberately destroyed his father’s guardian’s tomb, but I’m not sure if I know anything factual about how Henry VIII perceived Jasper Tudor. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

  6. G

    Do you happen to know how Jasper Tudor died? I have been researching and cannot find the answer. Thank you

    1. L

      I have been watching The White Queen and The White Princess here and although they are fictional they have some good factual information about the Tudors and the War of the Roses which I find interesting. We have traced our ancestry to John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and a son (John) with Katherine Swynford, his 3rd wife and long time mistress prior to their marriage. Alas they show My Lady the Kings Mother (Margaret Beaufort) suffocating Jasper Tudor which I know was not how he died..however, I would be quite interested in finding out exactly how he did die. Any information would most assuredly be appreciated.

    2. C - Post Author

      I don’t think it’s known what exactly killed him, but he was in his sixties so a very good age for a man at that time. He made his will a year before he died, so perhaps he was ill at that point, I’m not sure.

    3. S

      According to the white princess , Margaret Beaufort suffocated him?

      1. C - Post Author

        But that is completely fictional and there is nothing to suggest that she did in reality.

        1. Z

          Yes but how do you really know the truth

          1. C - Post Author

            Well, if you can say that anything is possible because how can we really know the truth then you could say anyone from history did anything. In fiction, Margaret may have done it, but there is nothing in the historical sources to suggest that she did. I could say that Henry VIII murdered his father, I could say anything if you follow that line of reasoning. A proper theory has to be backed up with something.

      2. R

        Why do you accept something from the White Princess as fact when it is well known that Philippa Gregory invented most of it? There is no evidence that Jasper Tudor died of anything other than old age. The only reason PG had Margaret Beaufort kill Jasper in the White Princess (a programme I am still recovering from) is because she formulated the theory that Margaret B killed the Princes in the Tower and that Jasper found out and was going to inform on her. There is no solid evidence for either of these theories, although when it comes to the Princes anything is possible. There is certainly nothing to set Margaret Beaufort up as killing a man in his sixties who had probably been ill for a while, given this was a very good age and he had been a soldier and exile for much of his life.

        Interesting as PG novels and films are, they need a health warning for any semblance of historical accuracy and are to be viewed with a large dose of salts. I am actually surprised anyone has taken anything in the White Princess seriously, it was that bad.

        1. D

          I agree, The White Princess is embarrassing. Jasper Tudor died at his manor home Thornbury in Gloucestershire, not in London, so Margaret Beaufort didn’t smother him.

          Another glaring error, this fiction shows Marie of Burgundy dying from a fall from her horse when Jasper Tudor was there on a mission for Henry VII. Marie died years before, actually the year before Edward VI died. The fall from the horse part is right, though.

        2. L

          Real Tudor Lady.. Everything that SWMNBN comes up with is beyond belief. I will never ever get over her radio interview, with her “Probably, maybe, almost certainly guilty” defirmation of Anne B, followed by “But I like Anne I really do”. That really gave me the screaming ab dabs I can tell you. I bit Dinosaur so hard he still has the scars LOL.
          She was on the tele not long ago on the “Meet the Author” show on BBC News it fair turned my stomach I can tell you.
          The trouble is she really believes the rubbish she writes and she is so up her own backside she won’t listen to reason. She is a fictional and often bizzarre writer who is completely off her head with her crackpot theories. She says she is a historian, yeah right and I’m a monkey’s left buttock. The likes of thee and me are better historians.

          1. A

            After every episode of The White Princess and The White Queen, it tells you that some history is fictional for dramatization.

          2. J

            I am a descendant of Elizabeth FitzHugh. She was my 14th great grand, and Grandmother to Queen Katherine Parr. I know you know a lot of REAL HISTORICAL FACTS, so I was wondering what your thought is about Lady Mary Seymour (Catherine Parr’s daughter).?? Any thoughts, if any, on what really happened to the child? I read somewhere (but cannot find it now), that there was a toddler left at the residence in Hunstanton, and that it was believed that my 13th great grandmother (Lady Anne Vaux-LeStrange, wife of Sir Knight Thomas LeStrange) and good friend of King Henry Vlll. I am guessing that it could possibly be true, since Anne Vaux’s mother was Elizabeth FitzHugh and knew Catherine well, since she was Catherine’s AUNT. We know how dangerous it was if you were at all, in the line of Royalty, and that many times they were all a potential TARGET for death. Since Katherine Willoughby was also a good friend of Catherine Parr, she probably knew who Anne Vaux-LeStrange was, and took Lady Mary to Hunstanton to be raised by Anne Vaux-Lestrange..I realize it is probably just a wild guess, but no one else knows for sure what happened to her. Any thoughts on your part, would surely be appreciated. Love reading your comments on the Tudor History..Much thanks, Judy Anstess my email: [email protected]

          3. S

            Is this supposed to make sense? Bit the dinosaur? What kind of strange euphemism is that?

        3. J

          Margaret Beaufort doesn’t kill Jasper Tudor in the White Princess book (or any other) as far as I can recall, so I believe that was an invention of the Starz network and not Philippa Gregory. Just saying…

      3. S

        I think Margaret could have killed the boys in the tower. It was either him or King Richard.

        1. S


        2. S

          They were not the princes, records show they had left to go up to (Ludlow?)

        3. v

          Not Buckingham? I thought he’s the prime suspect. Accusation of Richard seems to be the invention of propaganda.

  7. P

    As per Elise’s comment above I find it very difficult to believe that Henry VIII would have instructed Jasper’s tomb to be desecrated bearing in mind how important he was in putting the Tudors in power. Is it possible that the tomb or at least his remains were interred somewhere else before the Abbey was destroyed? Also the purchaser of the abbey would obviously have known about the tomb and would have wanted to make some profit from it had it still remained.

    1. C - Post Author

      It is possible that it was moved, but if it was those instructions have not survived and the tomb has not been marked. Many tombs, even important ones, were lost during the dissolution of the monasteries, which is such a shame. I’m not sure that the tomb would have made any profit for the new owner, only relics and saints’ tombs brought pilgrims and visitors. We only know that Jasper was buried at Keynsham, and his entrails at Thornbury, there is no surviving record of his remains being moved. Sorry.

      1. P

        Hi Claire, thanks for your reply. I’m interested in Sir Jasper Tudor as I live in Keynsham am interested in local history and am surprised and dismayed that hardly anyone here knows about Jasper’s tomb. Archaeological reports from of the site from the 1990s are rather incomplete and show that a lot of possible tomb material was found around the Chantry area that was very ornate, but no skeleton was found. Unfortunately the area is in a private garden and was not excavated completely due to garden buildings. An 1875 dig found a stone coffin with a cloth of gold rapped skeleton, but the position was not recorded and it seems to have been lost. Would love to get Time Team to look!

  8. S

    Such a shame Time Time is not around anymore.

  9. R

    Jasper Tudor was more or less for a time a surrogate father to young Henry, helping his mother for the few years she was allowed to raise him, before he was sent to Raglan Castle to be raised by Lord Herbert. Jasper and his father, Owen Tudor fought for the Lancastrian cause before their defeat at Mortimer’s Cross and Towton in 1461. It was Jasper who had raised another army but been prevented in 1471_from joining Queen Margaret by the weather. He had been kept in Wales and waited with Henry at Chepstow Castle before fleeing with him into exile from Tenby to the Duchy of Brittany. Together they shared exile for fourteen years and he trained his nephew for war. While Henry was never a warrior, he was trained in the art of being a soldier, but it was Jasper who would fight for him. Jasper was one of those who fought at Bosworth and he was loyal to Henry his whole life. Henry rewarded him after he took the crown by making him Duke of Bedford and he married the widow of the Duke of Buckingham, Katherine.

    I am guessing that the remains of Jasper are still where he lay originally and may be found one day. It wasn’t usual to dismantle tombs during the Dissolution. Most were actually left as they were with a few exceptions, who were moved for better protection. Tombs were dismantled later on during the English Civil Wars and the Stuart Wars with Scotland by the Puritan armies. Other tombs fell into decay and crumbled. There are precedents for someone important still being in place as when the super structures were taken the bodies were left in the crypts below. Richard iii was buried in the main body of the Church of the Priory of the Greyfriars in Leicester but when the building was knocked down his body remained in place, even though his tomb was removed. He was found as we all know in 2012 and reburied in Leicester Cathedral in 2015 in state, so it is possible that one day Jasper Tudor may turn up.

  10. K

    @RealTudorLady I sincerely hope that Jasper’s remains were left where they were buried at Keynsham Abbey. I am not from that area so I am not privy to many details but isn’t there a way to tell where the abbey once stood and possibly where Jasper’s tomb may have once resided? I have a vested interest in finding out since he is listed as a direct ancestor in my family tree.

    1. K

      I am trying to disprove the theory that there was an illegitimate daughter of Jasper Tudor listed as a direct ancestor as well and have wondered if there was anything left of Jasper to find and test dna against Helen to determine paternity and eith lend some credence or disprove this lineage altogether.

    2. P

      Digs carried out between 1864 and 1874 rediscovered the location of the abbey and also the Bedford Chantry. A detailed plan of this chantry also marks the location of Jaspers tomb, but it is very odd that although accompanying notes mention the many beautifully carved fragments of his tomb, they do not discuss the vault below and its contents. It was partially excavated in 1990s but could not be fully investigated due to a greenhouse built over the top.

  11. C

    I have recently after 40 years of researching my fathers and mothers trees had a discovery that has rocked myself and my son and daughter. My Mothers line goes all the way back and more to Jasper Tudor being my 15th great grandfather. At 5am one morning I was having trouble sleeping and eventually decided to just get up out of bed and do some research.. I hadnt touch my Mums tree in ages as I had only gone back to Walter Wade my notorius convict part of the Coggeshall Gang sent to Van Diemens Land (now Tasmania) . I was stuck beyond that until that morning (I had a ancestry sub at the time) and all these hints were flashing up. on investigation it took me back to Walford /Disbrowe/Cromwell/ Williams/Tudors etc. I emailed my son and daughter and initially they didnt believe it… but since have helped me immensely to find it out and are intriqued as much as I am .. I think we are still in shock… I did wonder when I had my DNA done that I had such strong ties to England where I thought it would be more Scotland on Dads side and wasnt sure about Mums line… It explains my ethnicity so much … I must have inherited more on her side. (no wonder I have felt different all my life – hard to explain) I just don’t jell with most of my siblings.

    My son has been watching the Crown Series on Stan or Netflix..He is in Darwin. I am in Melbourne with my daughter but we havent had the series on normal tv as yet.

    I am a firm believer in records rather than fiction anyway but one can use it as a guide.

    Thankyou for your interest article on Jasper etc. its helped me a lot.

    regards chrissy from Melbourne Australia
    previous Tasmania (VDL)

    1. F

      Hi Chrissy,
      I’m also descended from the Williams/Cromwell/Tudor line which we have documented. Interesting that we also share links to Melbourne and Tasmania. Many Cromwellians who were settled in Ireland, became connected to the Quakers, as in my case. The Quaker history is meticulously recorded and available through a wonderful museum in Mountmellick, Ireland. During the potato famine and its aftermath of cholera and starvation in the 1850’s, my ancestors came first to Tasmania, then to Melbourne and Adelaide, linking up with others who had already settled in the new colonies. This information is supported by family letters and so on.

  12. D

    Thank you all of you after watching the White Princess for the 50th time wanted to know about Jasper Tudor how he died !! Love this !!!

  13. D

    I am the granddaughter of Elizabeth Radcliffe. I wished, I knew more about my grandfather and how it became to be so. I am so grateful to have this in my life.

  14. S

    How does one trace their ancestry? Its something I would love to do. I know very little of my maternal great grandmother so does that hinder any discovery?

  15. I

    Are there any Tudor descendants living today?

    1. C - Post Author

      Oh yes! Our present queen is descended from Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII.

  16. A

    I’m a descendant of John of Coburg. I’m really trying to understand what he did on this 46th birthday, but there isn’t anything in the historical record. Could that be because of Margaret or Richard?

  17. P

    Would the King and Queen have attended Jasper’s funeral as I read somewhere that this was not the custom in medieval times. Also, Elizabeth of York was pregnant with her daughter, Mary, who was born on 18th March 1496. Would she have risked a long journey?

  18. S

    The White Queen and The White Princess may be fictional, but I’m shocked that such harsh words directed towards the author. Any time I read her books or watch these shows I always research things and it’s opened my eyes to a time period I (an American) would otherwise never have known about. They don’t teach this fascinating history on this side of the water.

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21 December 1495 – Death of Jasper Tudor