In my latest episode of the Renaissance English History Podcast I talked to Melita Thomas of Tudor Times about Jasper Tudor, uncle to Henry VII and perhaps the true Kingmaker of the 15th century. I hadn’t know much about Jasper, other than what I’ve read in historical fiction (there is a lovely train of thought that he was perhaps in love with Margaret Beaufort, his sister in law and mother to Henry VII). But as usual, the fact is much more fascinating than the fiction. Here are five Jasper Tudor Fun Facts, and then the podcast so you can learn more.
- Jasper was born out of a secret marriage. His mother had been the Queen of England, Katherine of Valois. After her husband (Henry V) died, she secretly married a member of her household, a Welshman called Owen Tudor, and bore him two sons – Edmund and Jasper. From this secret marriage came the entire Tudor dynasty. Fortunately for the children, Katherine’s son by her first husband, Henry VI, was kind and gentle, and not only recognized his half brothers, but also provided handsomely for them, raising them to the peerage and giving them the wardship of a great heiress, Margaret Beaufort.
- It was from this wardship that the future Henry VII would be born. Edmund married Lady Margaret, and got her pregnant right away. She had a son, Henry. Edmund died, but his brother, Jasper, would spend the rest of his life protecting his nephew from the civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses.
- Jasper was a bit like a 007 character. There was one time when a castle was being besieged that he snuck in to be able to fight. He once escaped another castle by dressing as a peasant and leaving in full daylight. One imagines him living this adrenaline-filled life filled with daring adventures, all in the name of remaining loyal to his house of Lancaster, and protecting his nephew.
- He only married very late in life, after his nephew became King. There have been rumors of an alleged relationship with Lady Margaret (see the White Queen series, for example). But they have never been proven, and in fact they seem pretty far fetched. She was a decade and a half younger than he was, and he never seems to have felt anything more than a brotherly affection for her. But who knows. Perhaps they were star crossed lovers who were never able to be together thanks to fate.
- It’s in part thanks to the fact that he never had children, he is largely forgotten today. Yet he shouldn’t be. He is largely to thank for the fact that the Tudors came to power. He was present throughout the Wars of the Roses, and managed to not only survive, but keep his nephew alive in exile as well, no small feat. The Earl of Warwick liked to think of himself as a Kingmaker, but it was Jasper Tudor, doing it quietly and simply out of loyalty, who was a Dynasty Maker.
Listen to the podcast below, and let me know what you think about Jasper in the comments! Would you have fallen for this daring adventurer?