In this series, I have followed Jasper Tudor and his nephew Henry’s escape from Tenby in Wales to their long exile in Brittany. Young Henry Tudor found himself deep in the forest at the remote Forteresse de Largoët, outside of the Breton town of Elven. He would have missed the company of his uncle Jasper, who was now in a far grander place, the Château de Josselin.
Originating from the year 1008, the château overlooking the River Oust has changed many times over the centuries. Olivier de Clisson, Constable of France, became Lord of Josselin in 1370 and rebuilt the fortress with eight high towers and married his daughter Beatrice to Viscount Alain de Rohan. During the religious wars of the seventeenth century, Duke Henri de Rohan commanded the Calvinists and his château was sacked by Cardinal de Richelieu. Only four of the original towers remain today, but the château is still home to the fourteenth Duke Josselin de Rohan.
Earlier in this series, I traced the journey of Jasper Tudor and his young nephew Henry’s escape from West Wales and their arrival in Brittany. The Tudors were welcomed to Vannes as guests of the powerful Duke Francis of Brittany before moving to the more remote Château de Suscinio for their own safety. The increased threat of abduction by York’s agents finally convinced Duke Francis to reduce the risk by moving them to separate locations inland.
Fourteen-year-old Henry was relocated to the Forteresse de Largoët, deep in the forest outside of the sleepy town of Elven. His custodian, Marshall of Brittany, Jean IV, Lord of Rieux and Rochefort, had two sons of a similar age to Henry, and it is thought they continued their education together. Henry was however prevented from communicating with his mother in England or his uncle Jasper Tudor, who now resided in a château elsewhere in Brittany.
In the first two parts of this series, I followed Jasper Tudor and his fourteen-year-old nephew Henry’s escape from Tenby in Wales and their arrival in Brittany. The Tudors are recorded as spending a year in Vannes as guests of Duke Francis of Brittany but, in October 1472, the duke became concerned they might be abducted by York’s agents. They were moved to his remote ‘hunting lodge’ by the sea, south of Vannes, the Château de Suscinio.
The Tudors’ new home had been fortified in the fourteenth century by Breton knight Bertrand du Guesclin, nicknamed ‘The Eagle of Brittany’, a military commander during the Hundred Years’ War. As well as building the seigniorial residence block and a corner tower known as the Tour Neuve, the moat was deepened and a raising drawbridge added, together with casemates to house artillery. By the time the Tudors arrived, the original thirteenth century château resembled a castle of generous proportions.
In the first part of this series, I followed Jasper Tudor and his young nephew Henry’s escape from Tenby in West Wales. There are tales of storms and of them being forced to shelter in the lee of the island of Jersey before they were able to make landfall at the Breton fishing port of Le Conquet in September 1471.
Jasper and Henry sought sanctuary from Duke Francis of Brittany and became his guests at the ducal palace, the Château de l’Hermine in Vannes. Duke Francis was a skilled politician, so would have appreciated the political value of the exiled Tudors to King Edward IV of England, as well as to his rival King Louis of France, to whom they were related through the Valois family of Jasper’s mother, Henry’s grandmother, Queen Catherine.