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
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Today, 18 May, we commemorate the death of Katherine Woodville, who died on this day in 1497.She was the wife of Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford and Earl of Pembroke and Sir Richard Wingfield and was around 40 when she passed away. She was a sister to Queen Elizabeth Woodville and, out of, probably, 13 children, she was very likely the youngest daughter of Jacquetta of Luxembourg and Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers.
Katherine married three times, first when still a child, somewhere in 1465, to Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, with whom she had 5 children. The oldest, Edward, was born in 1478, who would succeed his father as Duke of Buckingham, followed by Elizabeth, Henry, Humphrey (who died young) and Anne.
Eventhough fruitfull, according to Dominic Mancini, an observer of English affairs during this time, it was claimed to be an unhappy marriage. Mancini declared that Henry Stafford “had his own reasons for detesting the queen’s kin; for, when he was younger, he had been forced to wed the queen’s sister, whom he scorned to wed on account of her humble origin.” It's impossible to say whether or not this is true. What is also known is that Katherine followed her husband in the final stage of his life while fleeing for Richard III after his betrayal.
Katherine's life changed drastically in 1483 when, Buckingham being, along with Richard Duke of Gloucester, responsible for the death of Katherine's brother and nephew, Anthony Woodville and Richard Grey, changed side again when Gloucester had seized the crown as King Richard III and rebelled against the monarch he first had given all of his support. As a result Buckingham was executed on 2 November. Just-widowed Katherine found herself in a difficult situation, with four very young children.
Two years later, when Henry Tudor became King, Katherine's life once again changed when she was soon, on 7 November 1485, married to the King's uncle, Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford and Earl of Pembroke. Jasper was aroung 20 years her senior but together they would spend a considerable amount of their ten years ahead of them together at their Manor at Thornbury and Sudeley Castle. Jasper and Katherine's marriage was a one of strategic benefits and whether they were happy together is unknown.It was rumoured that the couple had a still born son in 1490.
On 15 December Katherine's husband, Jasper Tudor made his last will at their manor at Thornbury, mentioning his wife only briefly, nearly at the end of his will: ''I will that my lady my wife and all other persons have such dues as shall be thought to them appertaining by right law and conscience." Jasper died 6 days later, on 21 December 1495, being in his mid-60's.
This time Katherine decided to take faith in her own hands and quickly remaired again. Jasper's will and the fact that Katherine, who was now in her late 30's, very hastily remarried a man named Richard Wingfield, a young man twelve years her junior, without a royal license, which also indicates a not very passioned relationship to her former husband. She possibly even had an affair with young Wingfield before Jasper's death. King Henry VII fined the couple two thousand pounds for their presumption. Katherine would have probably known Richard Wingfield for some time; Wingfield’s mother was connected to Anthony Woodville’s second wife Mary and two of Richard’s brothers, and perhaps Richard himself, had served in Katherine’s household. Katherine's 3rd marriage wasn't, unlike her previous two marriages, of any strategic benefit for her and likely this final matrimony was one made for love.Unfortunately for Katherine she was unable to enjoy her marriage for very long. Barely one year after, she died of unknown cause. Her burialp lace also unknown. She did not have any surviving children from either Jasper Tudor or Richard Wingfield. Wingfield did remarry and had many children with his second wife Bridget Wiltshire. In his will in 1525 Wingfield requested masses to be said for Katherine’s soul.
(This is a reised version of an earlier blogpost, taken from my earlier blo 'Debra's 15th and 16th Century Blog')
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