On this day in Tudor history, 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.
Jasper Tudor was the uncle of Henry Tudor, a man who would become King Henry VII, and served as a mentor and advisor to him.
Find out more about this interesting Tudor man in today’s talk.
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.
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.
Henry Tudor’s return from exile to victory at Bosworth has to be one of the greatest moments in the history of the Tudor dynasty. So why is the Bosworth story so often told from the perspective of Richard III, with Henry depicted as lucky to have won?
I was born within sight of Pembroke Castle and have always been intrigued by the small room where the thirteen-year-old Lady Margaret Beaufort gave birth to the future king, Henry Tudor. I’ve also stood on the remote beach at Mill Bay near Milford Haven imagining how Henry would have felt as he approached with his uncle Jasper and his mercenary army.
All I knew about Jasper’s father, Henry’s grandfather, Owen Tudor, was that he’d been a Welsh servant who somehow married the young widow of King Henry V, Queen Catherine of Valois. Inspired to write a historical fiction trilogy about them, I wanted to research their stories in as much detail as possible and to sort out the many myths from the facts.
This month we travel a little further back in the Tudor period to look at the early Tudors… We have an article by Leanda de Lisle on Owen Tudor, and a day-by-day build-up to the Battle of Bosworth by Debra Bayani, along with other excellent articles by a whole host of historians and authors.
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.