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Duke Jasper

28 October, in 1485, marks the ennoblement of Jasper Tudor as Duke of Bedford and re-investment as Earl of Pembroke. His nephew Henry made sure that even before his own coronation, which was to take place in two days, his uncle was rewarded for his lifetime of devotion and his key role in bringing him to the throne as Henry VII.


Victorian stained glass window in Cardiff Castle of Jasper Tudor and his wife Katherine Woodville.

Several days of ceremonies and festivities were planned for the days ahead. The coronation of Henry VII was set for 30 October. But even before that Henry had thought about the rewards he was to bestow upon those who had served him and had made his victory at Bosworth a fact. His uncle Jasper Tudor was on top of the list.

On the night of 27 October 1485, the King rode from Lambeth to the Tower of London in preparation for the coming event and it was the next morning after hearing Mass, at the Feast of St. Simon and St Jude, that Jasper Tudor, along with other noblemen and lords who had supporter Henry at Bosworth, was presented before his nephew the King in the ‘habit of estate of a duke’ in the Presence Chamber in the Tower of London. Jasper was led by the John de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk and his son John Earl of Lincoln, William Berkeley Earl of Nottingham carried his cap of state and George Talbot 4th Earl of Shrewsbury bore Jasper’s sword, pommel upwards and officers of arms walking before him. Others who attended were John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford, as great Chamberlain of England, and the King’s stepfather Lord Thomas Stanley. While entering the room Jasper did his first bow, halfway through the room his second and standing in front of the King his third. The King then placed Jasper’s ‘girdle about his neck, and hanged the sweard before him. And likewise the cape on his head, and all things according to his Patent., He was exaltedtly styled: ‘The high and mighty prince, Jasper brother and uncle of kings, Duke of Bedford and Earl of Pembroke’.

There had only been two earlier Dukes of Bedford, the most notable Henry V’s younger brother John, the mainstay of the house of Lancaster who had enjoyed great popularity and it must have been him who Henry had in mind when seeking an appropriate title for his beloved uncle. It too demonstrated the link between the houses of Lancaster and Tudor. But most of all it showed Henry’s gratitude towards the uncle who had devoted his life to his nephew and without whom kingship or probably even his very survival would have been impossible.

That same day Henry’s stepfather Lord Stanley was created Earl of Derby and Edward Courtenay received the earldom of Devon. After the ceremonies were completed the newly styled nobles took their seat at the dining table at the King’s Great Chamber.

29 October 1485: The day before Henry’s own coronation the dubbing of six knights of the Bath took place at the Tower, in which Jasper was to take part.

After hearing mass together and in preparation of the coronation, Henry, bare-headed on a horse fully dressed with cloth of gold and trimmed with ermine with on his right hand Jasper, almost as splendidly dressed as the King himself, rode in a most impressive procession from the Tower of London to Westminster Hall. In the midst of this magnificent setting Jasper, now Duke of Bedford had the honour to play the leading role in the coronation ceremony of his nephew the following day.


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