Jasper Tudor

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Jasper Tudor, 1st Duke of Bedford (Welsh: Siasbar Tudur) (c. 1431 – 21/26 December 1495) was the uncle of King Henry VII of England and the architect of his successful conquest of England and Wales in 1485.[1]

Jasper Tudor bore the arms of the kingdom, with the addition of a bordure azure with martlets or (That is, a blue border featuring golden martlets).[2]


Family and Early Life

Jasper was the second son of Owen Tudor and the former Queen Catherine of Valois, widow of King Henry V. Hence he was a half-brother to King Henry VI, who, on attaining his majority, made Jasper Earl of Pembroke (sometime in 1452 or 1453). Through his father, Owen Tudor, he was a direct descendant of Ednyfed Fychan, Llywelyn the Great's renowned Chancellor; this added greatly to his status in Wales.

His elder brother Edmund was born at Much Hadham Palace in Hertfordshire around 1430. Jasper the second son was born at Bishop of Ely’s manor at Hatfield in Hertfordshire around 1431. There seemed to be a third son, Jasper's younger brother referred to as either Edward, Thomas or most likely Owen Tudor. Owen was born at Westminster Abbey in 1432, when the Dowager Queen was visiting her son Henry VI, her water broke prematurely and she was forced to seek the help of the monks at Westminster Abbey. Owen was taken from her and raised by the monks and according to his nephew Henry VII's personal historian Vergil the child was raised as a monk by the name Edward Bridgewater where he lived until his death in 1502. There is mention of a daughter who became a nun by Vergil but nothing is known of her. Jasper's mother's last child would be born in 1437 mere days before Katherine's own untimely death.[3]

In 1436 when Jasper was about five years of age his mother Catherine of Valois once again was expecting another child, however she realised that she was dying from an illness probably cancer and sought the help of Bermondsey Abbey to be nursed by the sisters there. By 1 January she had written a will and had given birth to a short lived daughter possibly named Margaret. On the 3rd January she died. After her death her husband Owen was arrested. It seems likely that while Katherine had been alive, the regency of Henry VI were reluctant to arrest Owen while the Queen could still protect him. The regents had made it illegal for anyone to marry the widowed queen without their permission, and since Owen was below her in rank, there had been no hope permission would be granted. Owen was sent to Newgate prison, making his way to Wales. Owen's children Edmund and Jasper, and possibly their unknown sister, were given to Katherine de la Pole who was a nun at Barking Abbey in Essex. She was the sister of William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk, a great favorite of Henry VI. Katherine de la Pole was to provide Owen Tudor's children with food, clothing, and lodging, and both boys were allowed servants to wait upon them as the King’s half-brothers.[4]

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