Depending on the source, on December 21, 1495, Jasper Tudor died, although some sources state December 26 (Boxing Day for those in the United Kingdom). If it wasn’t for this man, Henry VII may never have succeeded at the Battle of Bosworth. Jasper had raised his nephew as a soldier and made sure he was ready to take the throne.
The Death of Jasper Tudor: Uncle to a Tudor King
Jasper Tudor, the uncle of Henry VII of England, died on December 21, 1495. Unlike many other Tudors, he died at a good age of 64 years old.
The Lineage of Jasper Tudor
How was Jasper Tudor related to King Henry VI and King Henry VII of England?
Jasper was the younger brother of Edmund Tudor, Henry VII’s father. He was also the half-brother of Henry VI of England through their mother, Catherine of Valois. After the death of Henry V, Catherine had a relationship with Owen Tudor. However, it is unknown if they every officially married or whether their sons, Edmund and Jasper, were actually illegitimate.
There was a third son, and a younger brother for Jasper. Owen Tudor was born prematurely in 1432. Catherine was travelling and didn’t expect her waters to break. She was taken to an abbey and the monks there raised her youngest son, changing his name to Owen Bridgewater, according to Polydore Vergil, the personal biographer of Henry VII. There were also mentions of a daughter, Margaret, but only in passing that she became a nun.
Jasper Tudor in the Care of Katherine de la Pole
After Jasper's mother died, his father was imprisoned and his life could have faced uncertainty.
In 1437, Catherine of Valois died and Jasper’s father, Owen, was arrested. Jasper and Edmund were placed into the care of Katherine de la Pole at Barking Abbey until March 1442. She was the sister of one of Henry VI’s favourites, William de al Pole, and made sure that Jasper and Edmund had clothing, food, and a roof over their heads. Due to their status as half-brothers to the King of England, they were given servants.
It is unknown when Henry VI really knew about his brothers and sister before his mother’s death. She told him about their existence just before she died, but he may have found out through other sources. However, it wasn’t until 1442 that he began to show an interest in how they were raised, and they were called to court. It led to private education and military training, which would serve Jasper well in the future.
Jasper was given the title the Earl of Pembroke in 1452, and he found himself in royal favour. Due to their positions Edmund Tudor was given the honour of marrying Margaret Beaufort, a wealthy ward of the King. Jasper soon found himself the protector of his sister-in-law after the death of his brother.
The Wars of the Roses and Jasper Tudor
Jasper never really wanted the Wars of the Roses to take place, and tried in vain to stop them.
The Houses of Lancaster and York began warring. You would be forgiven for believing that Jasper Tudor was always on the side of the Red Rose. While he was a member of the House of Lancaster, he didn’t want the Wars of the Roses to take place. He tried to work with nobles, including the Duke of York, to prevent it. However, the death of Edmund led to him maintaining ties between the Lancastrian house and Wales, and he was also there to look after his widowed sister-in-law and her child.
He had no choice but to fight for the Lancastrian cause. Because of his support for his half-brother, Edward IV set an attainder against him. He went on to prove loyalty for the cause by supporting his nephew Edward’s claim to the throne. Meanwhile, in Wales, he helped to raise his nephew and prepared him for battle.
He soon found himself exiled, along with Henry Tudor. While there, they worked on a plan to see Henry Tudor get the crown. He lost the title Earl of Pembroke, and Pembrokeshire Castle, due to his support for his Lancastrian half-brother. While he temporarily gained them back when Henry VI gained his throne back, he lost them again in April 1471.
Jasper taught Henry Tudor how to be tactical. If it wasn’t for that, the Battle of Bosworth would never have begun. He was rewarded for his support and loyalty when Henry Tudor became Henry VII of England. All attainders against him were annulled and he gained his titles and lands back. He also gained Cardiff Castle as a reward.
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The Marriage and Children of Jasper Tudor
He finally married at the age of 54 to his nephew's aunt by marriage, Catherine Woodville.
Jasper Tudor didn’t marry until 1485, when he married Catherine Woodville, Elizabeth of York’s aunt. Elizabeth of York became the wife of Henry VII in 1486, which helped to strengthen Henry’s claim to the throne while joining the two warring houses. Catherine had been married once before Jasper, to Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, who was executed after an attempt to place Henry Tudor on the throne.
They had no surviving children together. But there are two illegitimate daughters who are said to be Jasper Tudor’s: Helen and Joan Tudor.
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The Death of Jasper Tudor
Jasper died from natural causes, but only briefly mentioned his wife in his will.
Jasper knew that his life was coming to an end and arranged for his will to be written on December 15, 1495. He gave a number of religious houses his garments and other belongings. He made sure his servants received a year’s worth of wages, and asked them to keep his home until the Easter after his death. His land was to be kept for paying off his debts, which he said would take 20 years. After that, it would go to his nephew, Henry VII of England.
There is very little mentioned about his wife, Catherine. Most of the rest of his money went to the executors of his will. The will simply stated that his wife would receive those she should by law. Luckily for Catherine, she had already gained wealth and lands from her first marriage to Henry Stafford. It may not have bothered Catherine as she married just two months later.
Jasper Tudor died at the age of 64 from natural causes.