Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke and Duke of Bedford

UDOR, JASPER, Earl of Pembroke and Duke of Bedford, known as Jasper of Hatfield (1431?–1495), born about 1431 at Hatfield, was second son of Owen Tudor [q. v.] by Catherine of Valois [q. v.] widow of Henry V. He was, like his brother Edmund Tudor [q. v.] at first in the keeping of the abbess of Barking, and was, like him, subsequently educated by priests with some care. He was knighted by his half-brother, Henry VI, on 25 Dec. 1449. On 6 March 1453, or possibly earlier, he was created Earl of Pembroke, and soon afterwards he seems to have visited Norwich with Queen Margaret of Anjou. The Lancastrian king made him many grants, notably in 1454, and hence it is surprising that he was at first looked on as a Yorkist (cf. Ordinances of the Privy Council, vol. vi. p. liii). This may have been an error, or it may point to some jealousy on the part of the queen, to whom the Pembroke estates which Tudor had secured had been assigned in the first instance. However, when it came to fighting there was no doubt as to his opinions. He was present at the first battle of St. Albans (22 May 1455) on the king’s side. He afterwards, at the meeting of parliament, took the oath to the king on 24 July 1455. His brother Edmund’s widow, Margaret Tudor, was protected by him for some time after her husband’s death in 1456, and it was at Jasper’s residence, Pembroke Castle, that Henry, afterwards Henry VII, was born. He was occupied in Wales during 1457, and constructed some fortifications at Tenby (cf. Arch. Cambrensis, 5th ser. xiii. 177 &c.). He is noted as coming to the ill-fated parliament of Coventry in 1459 with ‘a good felechip.’ He was appointed K.G. in April 1459.

In the early part of 1460 he engaged in the siege of Denbigh, which he took later in the year. Margaret of Anjou joined him at Denbigh soon after the battle of Northampton (10 July). A letter from the council, dated 9 Aug. 1460, ordered him to give up Denbigh Castle to the Duke of York’s deputy. The next year (1461) he and the Earl of Wiltshire were defeated by Edward, duke of York (afterwards Edward IV), at the battle of Mortimer’s Cross (2 Feb.), near Wigmore. He was reported taken, but seems to have joined Margaret. In the plans for the invasion of England which followed the battle of Towton (29 March), it was suggested that he should go to Wales and try to land at Beaumaris, a scheme which was not carried out, as he went first to Ireland in that year, and then in October was reported as ‘floon and taken the mounteyns.’ He took part in the invasion of the north of 1462, and was blockaded in Bamborough by Warwick’s men. When most of the Lancastrians came to terms, he and Lord de Roos could not make any arrangement, and about Christmas 1462 they went to Scotland.

Jasper had been attainted (29 Dec. 1461), and probably joined Margaret’s little court in Bar (cf. Archæological Journal, vol. vii.). In 1468, when a Lancastrian plot was discovered in England, he landed in North Wales (24 June). He took Denbigh, but could not reach Harlech, which was being besieged by William, Lord Herbert (d. 1469) [q. v.]; and indeed, though he is said to have held sessions and assizes in Henry VI’s name, he effected little, and was finally defeated by the Herberts and forced once more to fly abroad. The earldom of Pembroke was now given to William Herbert on 8 Sept. 1468, no doubt as a measure of security as well as of reward.

Jasper was with Warwick when he landed in Devonshire on 13 Sept. 1470. He was appointed joint-lieutenant for Henry VI, and the earldom of Pembroke was restored to him. On 30 Jan. 1470–1 he was made commissioner of array for South Wales and the marches, and on 14 Feb. following constable of Gloucester Castle. His duties and influence then lay in the west, and it is improbable that he was at the battle of Barnet on 14 April. He joined Margaret at Beaulieu, and then apparently went to gather fresh forces in Wales. He was too late to be of any service, and came up when the battle of Tewkesbury had been fought and lost on 4 May. One of the consequences of the revolution of 1470 had been the renewal of the connection between Jasper Tudor and his nephew Henry, earl of Richmond. He had taken charge of young Henry when a little boy, and had seen to his education. Henry had fallen, however, into the hands of William Herbert, earl of Pembroke, at the capture of Harlech. Jasper Tudor in 1470 took charge of him once more, and presented him to Henry VI. Uncle and nephew were together when the fall of the Lancastrians made it necessary to fly, and Jasper Tudor took the youth first to Chepstow, where one Roger Vaughan nearly captured Jasper, thence to Pembroke, where they were besieged by Morgan ab Thomas, but were released the eighth day by Morgan’s brother David (on these two brothers cf. Gwaith Lewis Glyn Cothi, p. 145), and thence to Tenby, where they took ship for the continent. A tradition relates that they were some time at Barmouth (cf. Arch. Cambrensis, 4th ser. ix. 58). It was by an accident of the weather that they landed in 1471 in Brittany, where they found a dangerous asylum for some years. On the restoration of Edward IV, Jasper was attainted again.

In Brittany, at the court of Francis II, Jasper shared the perils of young Henry, whom both Edward IV and Louis XI were anxious to get hold of. In the days of Richard III he was the adviser doubtless of his nephew, and one of the leading schemers in the many-headed outbreak of the autumn of 1483. They then sailed to the coast of Dorset or Devonshire, but arriving there about 12 Nov. or perhaps a little earlier, when all was over, they at once returned. Landing on the coast of Normandy, they passed to Brittany once more. At Rennes on Christmas-day 1483 the oath to Henry was taken by all his adherents.

The danger of the exiles now greatly increased, owing to the domestic politics of Brittany. The duke Francis was sinking into dotage, and his minister, Pierre de Landois, to secure Richard III’s influence, consented to give up young Henry to the English king. Of this plan Christopher Urswick [q. v.] brought timely warning from Morton, and Jasper Tudor was sent first into France with some of the refugees, Henry following. They all reached Paris safely.

Jasper Tudor sailed with the little army of Lancastrians from Harfleur on 1 Aug. 1485, and landed at Dale in Milford Haven on 7 Aug. He was of peculiar importance owing to his influence as earl of Pembroke. Before the landing of the exiles Lewis Glyn Cothi had addressed poems to him which show the general expectation that was felt in Wales of Henry’s arrival [see Lewis, (fl. 1450–1486)]. The men of Pembroke at once sent an encouraging message. Jasper Tudor accompanied his nephew Henry to Bosworth and thence to London, where Henry became king. Jasper was now, 27 Oct. 1485, created Duke of Bedford and a privy councillor; he was on 11 Dec. 1485 restored to his earldom of Pembroke, and succeeded his old rival Herbert as chief justice of South Wales. He was also made for a time lieutenant of Calais, and had many grants from the king. From 11 March 1485 to 1 Nov. 1494 he was lord lieutenant of Ireland, but it does not appear that he ever went thither. Among other offices which he held were those of high steward of Oxford University in 1485, and earl marshal of England in 1492. Bedford took a prominent part in suppressing the Lovel and Stafford rebellion of 1486, advancing against the insurgents with a small army, and dispersing them not far from York. Again, in the Simnel insurrection, he was one of the commanders of Henry VII’s forces, and helped to win the battle of Stoke on 16 June 1487. He took a leading place at the coronation of the queen in November 1487. On 14 July 1488 he was named one of the conservators of the truce with France, and is there spoken of as ‘for the time being’ lieutenant of Calais. He was one of the commanders of the army which invaded France in 1492. In 1495 the young Duke of York (afterwards Henry VIII) received the grant of the reversion to his estates.

Bedford died on 21 or 26 Dec. 1495, and, if his will was carried out, was buried in the abbey church of Keynsham, near Bristol, where he desired that four priests, for whom he left maintenance, should sing masses for his soul, and for those of his father and mother. His will is printed in ‘Testamenta Vetusta,’ p. 430. His autograph is extant in the British Museum Addit. MS. 21505, f. 10. He married, between 2 Nov. 1483 and 7 Nov. 1485, Catherine Woodville, youngest daughter of Richard, earl Rivers, and widow of Henry Stafford, second duke of Buckingham [q. v.] by whom he left no issue. His widow married Sir Richard Wingfield [q. v.] Bedford left an illegitimate daughter, Helen, who is said to have married William Gardiner, and to have been the mother of Stephen Gardiner [q. v.] [G. E. C[okayne]’s Peerage; Doyle’s Official Baronage; Ramsay’s Lancaster and York, vol. ii.; Busch’s England under the Tudors; the poetical works of Lewis Glyn Cothi, which contain much information; Meyrick’s Cardiganshire, p. ccxii; Letters of Margaret of Anjou (Camd. Soc.), xiii. 103; Rot. Parl. v. 237 &c., vi. 29 &c.; Trevelyan Papers (Camd. Soc.), i. 90, ii. 4, 52; Arrival of Edward IV (Camd. Soc.), pp. 24, 27, 44; Warkworth’s Chron. (Camd. Soc.), pp. 12, 61; Polydore Vergil (Camd. Soc. transl.), pp. 109, &c.; Cartæ et Munimenta de Glamorgan, p. 405; Archæologia Cambrensis, 2nd ser. iv. 178, 4th ser. ix. 58, 5th ser. xii. 177 &c.; Commines Dupont, ii. 159; Waurin-Dupont, ii. 254, iii. 135, 170, 176, 181; Paston Letters, ed. Gairdner, i. 254 &c., ii. 52 &c., iii. 17, 316; Brit. Mus. Egerton MS. 2644, f. 1; Cal. Inquisitions Henry VII, pt. i. 1898, passim; authorities for family history given under Tudor, Owen.]

Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 57
Tudor, Jasper by William Arthur Jobson Archbold

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