On this day in history, 1 November 1456, Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond, husband of Lady Margaret Beaufort and father of King Henry VII, died at Carmarthen Castle in Wales. He died from the plague.
Who was Edmund Tudor and how did he end up dying of the plague at Carmarthen?
On this day in history, 1456, Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond, died from the plague at Carmarthen Castle in Wales.
Now, you might be thinking that 1456 isn’t in the Tudor period, and you’re right, it was in the reign of King Henry VI, but Edmund Tudor was a “Tudor” and he was the father of King Henry VII, the first Tudor monarch.
Let me tell you a bit more about Henry VII’s father…
Edmund Tudor was the eldest son of Owen Tudor and Catherine of Valois (widow of King Henry V and mother of King Henry VI). He was born in around 1430 in Much Hadham, Hertfordshire, and is sometimes known as Edmund of Hadham. He was made Earl of Richmond by his half-brother, Henry VI, on 23rd November 1452, and his younger brother, Jasper, was made Earl of Pembroke. The brothers were knighted on 5th January 1453, and in March 1453, at the Reading Parliament, they received recognition as the king’s true and legitimate brothers.
On 24th March 1453, Henry VI granted the wardship and marriage of ten-year-old Lady Margaret Beaufort, to Edmund and Jasper. Margaret was the daughter and heir of John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, and a direct descendant of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. By November 1455, Edmund had married twelve-year-old Margaret and had moved to south-west Wales where, by August 1456, after a conflict with Gruffudd ap Nicholas, he had taken control of Carmarthen Castle “and thereby captured the centre of royal government in the region” on behalf of the king. A Yorkist force of 2,000 men led by Sir William Herbert and Sir Walter Devereux then marched on Carmarthen. They successfully seized the castle and Edmund was imprisoned temporarily. He died at Carmarthen from the plague on this day in history, 1st November 1456, aged about twenty-six.
Edmund was buried at the monastery of Greyfriars in Carmarthen, but his remains were moved to St Davids Cathedral on the orders of his grandson, Henry VIII, after the dissolution of the monastery. His elaborate tomb can still be seen today in the middle of the high altar, although his effigy and other decorations were removed during the Civil War in the 17th century. His elegy was written by Lewys Glyn Cothi, the Welsh poet.
Edmund’s widow, Margaret, was six months pregnant when he died. She gave birth at her brother-in-law’s home of Pembroke Castle on 28th January 1457. The baby was a boy, a son who would become King Henry VII.