December 21 – Jasper Tudor, uncle of King Henry VII

Dec21,2022 #Jasper Tudor

On this day in Tudor history, 21st December 1495, in the reign of King Henry VII, sixty-four-year-old Jasper Tudor, 1st Duke of Bedford and 1st Earl of Pembroke, died at his manor at Thornbury.

Jasper Tudor was the king’s uncle and had served as his mentor and advisor.

Let me tell you more about this interesting Tudor man…


Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford and Earl of Pembroke

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. His entrails were buried at the parish church at Thornbury, in south Gloucestershire, and the rest of his remains were laid to rest at Keynsham Abbey, Somerset, according to the instructions he left in his will of 15th December. His nephew, King Henry VII, and his queen consort, Elizabeth of York, attended the funeral.

In the contemporary work “The Maire of Bristowe is Kalendar (Ricart’s Calendar)”, a book compiled by Bristol town clerk, Robert Ricart, Ricart gives an account of Jasper’s death and the burial arrangements:

“And this year, the Duke of Bedford, the king’s uncle, deceased at Thornbury, on whose soul God have mercy, and was buried at Keynsham. And the said Maire (Mayor) and his brethren met with the said duke in Kingswood with 2,000 men on horseback, all in black gowns, and so brought his body to Keynsham, for the which the said Maire and his brethren had great thanks of the King.”

As Jasper’s biographer, Debra 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 Tudor facts

Let me share a few Jasper Tudor facts in memory of this Tudor man…

  • Jasper was born in around 1431, probably at Hatfield.
  • He was the second son of Owen Tudor and Catherine of Valois, widow of King Henry V, and so was the half-brother of Henry VI.
  • His elder brother was Edmund Tudor, father of King Henry VII.
  • Jasper and Edmund were granted wardship of the young Lady Margaret Beaufort, who Edmund ended up marrying.
  • Henry Tudor, the future Henry VII, was born in 1457 at Jasper’s home, Pembroke Castle, following the death of his father Edmund.
  • Following the Lancastrian defeat at Mortimer’s Cross and his father’s execution, Jasper fled into exile.
  • In 1470, he returned from exile and was reunited with his nephew, Henry Tudor, but ended up taking Henry with him to Brittany after news of the Lancastrian defeat at Tewkesbury. He acted as a mentor to the boy there.
  • He returned, landing in Pembrokeshire with his nephew in August 1485, although ut is not known whether he actually fought at Bosworth when Henry’s forces defeated those of Richard III on 22nd August 1485.
  • Jasper was rewarded for his support when King Henry VII made him Duke of Bedford in October 1485, and he was also restored to the Earldom of Pembroke. His properties included Thornbury Castle, Sudeley Castle and the manor of Minster Lovell.
  • He married Katherine Wooodville, widow of the Duke of Buckingham and sister of Elizabeth Woodville, widow of Edward IV, in the autumn of 1485.
  • Jasper was one of Henry VII’s closest advisors.
  • In 1486, he was made Lieutenant of Ireland.
  • He played an active part in putting down the Stafford and Lovell Rebellion of 1486 and commanded troops at the Battle of Stoke Field in 1487, defeating those supporting the claim of Lambert Simnel.
  • He was made Lieutenant of Calais in 1488.
  • He had an illegitimate daughter, Ellen, who married William Gardiner of London. It was rumoured in the 19th century that she was the mother of Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, but her son was actually the chronicler Thomas Gardiner. Stephen Gardiner’s parents are believed to have been John Gardiner of Bury and his wife, Agnes.
  • Jasper didn’t have any legitimate children.

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