Without encountering any obstacle at sea, Henry Tudor and his c. 4000 followers had sailed from the coast of Harfleur arriving safely at Mill Bay, along the rocky Pembrokeshire coastline after a 6-days journey on 7 August 1485.
Preparations had been going on for their arrival and amongst those waiting on the shore was Jasper’s half-brother and Henry’s uncle, the 26-year-old David Owen, illegitimate son of Owen Tudor who had spent the first years of his life with Henry at Pembroke Castle.
Henry’s mixed sense of relief and anxiety was obvious. He then ‘kissed the ground meekly, and reverently made the sign of the cross upon him’. Soon after their landing Henry also decided to knight eight of his foremost followers – his uncles David Owen and John, Lord Welles, Philibert de Chandée, James Blount, Edward Courtenay, John Cheyne, Edward Poynings and John Fort.
Their first task was to climb up the steep sea cliff, followed by the decision to go the village of Dale and its castle and set up camp in the village. According to Henry’s biographer Bernard André, Henry, perhaps especially mindful of his French troops, reprimanded his men not to do anything to others, ‘either by word or by deed, which you not wish to have done to yourselves’. Rules of war were crucial if authority was to be maintained and order kept.
Both Jasper and John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford inspected the French troops in order to determine what gear and weaponry they were short of. It was probably, the constable of Pembroke, Richard Williams, who hastened 200 miles over 4 days, to King Richard at Nottingham and told him the news about their landing. Good news also came, the people of Pembroke ‘were ready to serve Jaspar ther erle’.
As the year 1495 approached its end, so did the life of Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford and Earl of Pembroke. Jasper had made his last will on 15 December at his manor at Thornbury and died there six days later on 21 December. In his own bed he died as one of the greatest survivors of the Wars of the Roses at the age of about 64. Jasper’s body was embalmed and his entrails buried at nearby St. Mary’s Church. The church, which still stands today, must have been a frequent place of worship for the Duke while staying at Thornbury. In his will Jasper requests for his body to be buried 18 miles south of Thornbury ‘in a place convenient’ at the Abbey of Keynsham and for his tomb to be honourably made to suit ‘the estate it hath pleased God to call me to’.
Jasper was the son of Owen Tudor and dowager Queen Katherine de Valois (widow of Henry V), half-brother to Henry VI and uncle to Henry VII, to whom he devoted his life. Jasper’s steadfast loyalty towards his family and his tactics to survive against all odds were the main reason the Tudors were able to ensure the English throne. Jasper’s importance to his nephew was unmistakable by the presence of the King and his queen at his uncle’s funeral. His remains, however, were lost during the Dissolution of the Monastries under his great-nephew Henry VIII.
If anyone would like to see the original will, just message me and I'd be happy to send a pdf.
Read below for the transcript of Jasper's will in the original spelling:
In the name of god, Amen. I Jasper Duke of Bedford and Erle of Pembroke make
my testament and last Will in this forme folowing furst I bequeath my soule to almightie god to our blessed
lady the moder the virgine Mary and to all Saintes my body to be buried in the monasterie of our Lady
of Keynesham in a place convenient Where I will that my Tombe be honorable made after thestate that
it hath pleased god to call me to And therupon to be employed an hundred markis Item I will
that certeyne my Lordshippis Maners landes and tenements with their appurtenances which I have in fee
simple aswele in the Counties of Notingham Derby and Warwyk as in the Marche of Wales and ellis
where the some of fourty pounds yerely of the same with licence and agreament of my soverayn lord
the king to be amorteysed for the fyndyng of iiij preestis to syng perpetually in the saide church and Monastery
aswele for my soule and for my faders soule as for the soules of the noble memorie Kateryne some tyme
Quene of England my moder And of Edmund late Erle of Richemonde my brother and of all
other my predecessours Item I will that in defaute hereof some or ij benefices of the value of xl
or l poundes yerely above all charges of the patronage of my saide soverayn Lord of myne or of any
other where the same may bee best obteyned by speciall labor and meanes of me or myne executours
be impropried to thabbot and convent of the saide Monastery perpetually for the tyme being to thentente
v or vj preestis shalbe founde daily to syng in the saide Monasterye aswele for my soule as the
soules aforesaide Item I will that in defaulte of both the premisses and c li to be delyvered unto the saide
Abbot and Convente by myne executours in redy money to thentente that ij preestis shalbe perpetually
founde in the saide Monastery to syng daily for me And the soules above rehersed according to an offer
made by the saide Abbot and Convent in that behalf And the suretie herof to be dyvysed by my
counsell lernede. Item I bequeath to the saide monasterie my best gowne of cloth of gold for vestment
to be made to the honor of God and his blessed moder Item I will that the day of my internment
at Keynesham there be distributed amonge every poor man and woman that will take it ijd a pece and
lykewise at my monethis mynde Item I bequeath to the monasterie of blessid sainte Kenelme of Winchecombe toward the bilding of the same xxli and my long gowne of crymesyn velvett to
make a coope there to the honor of god and the sainte Item I bequeath to the church of Thornebury
toward the reparation of the same xli Item I bequeath to the saide church a gowne of blak velvett
If you haven't heard about the fantastic artist Dmitry Yakhovsky, I would really like to introduce you to him. Dmitry is experienced with watercolour and digital art, has just published his debut graphic novel 'Shadow of the Cross' with MadeGlobal Publishing and only recently started with oils. I'm so happy with the oil painting he did for me and really wanted to share it with you all. It depicts Jasper and Henry Tudor after the siege of Pembroke Castle in 1471, prior to their exile in Brittany. Many of you know Jasper is dear to my heart and I think this very image illustrates his character very well, his fatherly protectiveness towards his nephew Henry but also the determination in his eyes, while leaving his home at Pembroke, knowing that one day he will have it back.
'"A battle was fought. King Richard was killed on the battlefield and the Earl of Richmond was crowned King of England on the field with Richard's crown." Philippe de Commines.
Amongst Richard III’s men casualties were ofcourse heavy. Amid his closest supporters the elderly John Howard, 1st Duke of Norfolk, Walter Devereux (the younger), Lord Ferrers, Richard’s close companion Sir Richard Ratcliffe, Keeper of the Tower of London Sir Robert Brackenbury, Controller of the King’s household Sir Robert Percy and the King’s secretary John Kendall were all killed in battle. Richard’s other close friend Sir William Catesby fled but was soon captured and executed. Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland and Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey (son of the slain Duke of Norfolk) were both taken into custody and imprisoned but later restored to their lands and titles. John de la pole, 1st Earl of Lincoln, Francis Viscount Lovell and the brothers Humphrey and Thomas Stafford all escaped.
Polydore Vergil reported that a 1,000 men were slain amongst Richard III’s men and about 100 on Henry Tudor’s side. According to Vergil Henry’s standard bearer Sir William Brandon was ‘the only one from the nobility’ who had fallen on the victor’s side. For my second book (The Wars of the Roses Visitors Companion: Wales and the Borders, Book 1) I recently travelled through Wales and the borders and discovered that this is not the case. Sir Humphrey Cotes (or Coates) of Woodcote joint Henry’s army on route between Shrewsbury to Bosworth around 19 August, at Muster Hill near Woodcote, Shropshire. While on the winning side Sir Humphrey Cotes did not return home, he was killed during battle. He was buried at the church on the grounds of his home Woodcote Hall. Eventhough kept locked I was very lucky to visit the church and see the beautiful incised slab to Sir Humphrey Coted and his wife Eleanora Blount.
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