The grandfather of Henry VII, Owen Tudor, or Owain ap Maredudd ap Tudur, was born in 1400. He was the son of Maredudd ap Tudur ap Goronwy and Margaret, daughter of Dafydd Fychan. He is believed to be descended from a prominent Welsh family, and it is thought that Owen’s family took part in the Glyndwr Rising, one of the last major attempts for Welsh independence. Little is known about the early life of Owen Tudor, and, in fact, a large proportion of his life is highly mythologised.
There are theories that Owen fought at Agincourt and became an esquire of King Henry V. In 16th century France, it was said that he was the illegitimate son of an alehouse keeper, and in 18th century Wales, it was purported that his father was a fugitive murderer. These rumours are largely unfounded and show just how much speculation there is regarding the early life of Owen Tudor. We know that in May 1421, an ‘Owen Meredith’ joined the service of Sir Walter Hungerford, who was the steward of the king’s household where he served in France. Following this appointment, his life once again becomes shrouded in mystery. It is within these years, however, that we know Owen Tudor met Queen Catherine, and this meeting has inspired romantics and writers of historical fiction and poetry for years. It is rumoured that the relationship between Owen Tudor and Catherine began when Owen met Catherine by falling into her lap while dancing, while another story claims that Owen Tudor caught Catherine’s eye while he was swimming! Regardless of how they met, however, their subsequent relationship would change the English monarchy, removing the Plantagenet dynasty and replacing it with their very own Tudor one.
Today we are hosting Conor Byrne, “Tudor Life” magazine regular contributor, historian and author, as part of his book tour for his latest book Queenship in England 1308-1485: Gender and Power in the Late Middle Ages. MadeGlobal Publishing is offering a paperback copy of Conor’s book to one lucky commenter. All you have to do is leave a comment below saying which 14th or 15th-century queen you’d like to know more about and why. Leave your comment before midnight Tuesday 21st February 2017. One commenter will be picked at random and contacted for his/her address.
On 3 January 1437, Katherine of Valois, widow of Henry V, died at the age of thirty-five. The former queen was buried at Westminster Abbey. Five months later, the life of another former queen of England ended. Joan of Navarre, Katherine’s immediate predecessor, died at the age of sixty-six or sixty-seven and was buried at Canterbury Cathedral. The queenships of Joan and Katherine reveal the opportunities for triumph and tribulation that the office brought, as well as showcasing the variety of roles that were associated with it, including mother, intercessor, patron and lord. Their queenships also reveal the strikingly different political and diplomatic contexts, depending on circumstances, in which the occupant could attempt to fulfil her roles, and how these contexts affected her ability to succeed in the role of queen.
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.