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The Death of the Greatest Survivor of the Wars of the Roses

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’.


St. Mary's Church, Thornbury, where Jasper's entrails were buried. Thornbury Manor (now Thornbury Castle


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.

Read below for the transcript of Jasper's will in the original spelling:

(If anyone would like to see the original will, just message me and I'd be happy to send a pdf) 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 predecessors

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 aforesaid

Item I will that in defaulte of both the premisses and c li to be delyvered unto the aside 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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