Sunday, 27 January 2013

Birth of the Tudor Dynasty January 28th 1457

After having been a widow for closely three months, thirteen year old Margaret Beaufort and her unborn child were thought not to survive this childbirth. But when, on the winter morning of January 28th 1457, Margaret had been in labour for too long, she finally gave birth to a tiny little boy at his uncle’s castle of Pembroke, probably in the now so-called Henry VII Tower.

The story goes that baby Henry, or Owen as how he was called for many years by the Welsh, was conceived at Jasper Tudor’s Caldicot Castle when the just married Edmund Tudor Earl of Richmond and Margaret Beaufort spent some ‘’quality’’ time together.
Ironically Edmund died precisely at his 1st wedding anniversary on November 1st (0r the 3rd)1456 and so would not live to see his son. Edmund left his young wife and unborn child to the care of his brother Jasper who took his place as a father. Edmund’s legacy lived on and would exceed every expectation he might have had for his child. It would take nearly 3 decades to accomplish the unthinkable.
The future Henry VII and with him the Tudor Dynasty was born, today 556 years ago.


For more about Edmund Tudor’s death you can see my previous post.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The Duke of York's role in Edmund Tudor's death

As King Henry VI's Uterine brothers Jasper and Edmund Tudor were also on very good terms with Richard Duke of York, even this good that both brothers were likely to be arrested for treason when they jointed York to London in January 1454 during King Henry VI's insanity. They even supported York at the council meeting when he received protectorship during the King's illness and not even the 1st Battle of St. Albans seemed to have changed their support to York.
During York’s brief protectorate attempts to discipline Griffith ap Nicholas in South-West Wales failed but when Edmund did succeed in this four months after York had lost his protectorship a second time, it was a great embarrassment to York. The significance of the whole campaign centered on York’s determination to assert his control over the government by acting as the legitimate constable of the castles and neutralizing potentially dangerous rivals in the principality. At this point Edmund seems to be a rival. In April York’s men, Sir Walter Devereux and his son-in-law Sir William Herbert, decided to make their move by gathering a force of about 2000 men from around Herefordshire and causing for many local skirmishes which escalated in June when an attempt was made for an invasion on Kenilworth, with affirmed intensions to kill the King.
From there William Herbert, Walter Devereux and members of the Vaughan family joined their forces, proceeding their attentions on asserting York’s authority  and directed for West Wales, for Carmarthen Castle, for Edmund.  They immediately seized the castle and took Edmund prison. From there, they went on to other places in West-Wales, re-establishing York’s authority after he earlier had lost  those in Westminster.  It is not clear at all why William Herbert changed side at the first place, for at first he appears to be on very good terms with both Edmund and his younger brother Jasper, A phrase from a contemporary poem composed by Lewys Glyn Cothi in 1452 in praise of William Herbert also suggests this:

                 ...If Jasper was being pounded,

                 he’d [=William] pound through a thousand men.

                 The nobleman’s full of sincerity

                 (that will serve him well);

                 Gwilym [=William] is true and skilled

                 for one God before everything else,

                 also for the Crown, kindly eagle,

                 and above for the earl of Pembroke and his men.
Unfortunately Edmund would not be able to demonstrate more of his abilities in Wales, for he died at Carmarthen on 1 November 1456. Although suggested is the plague for a possible cause of death, an ample possibility, although there is no exact proof, is that Edmund’s sudden death so soon after the events of that summer, which was clearly a great shock and gives inevitable suspicion of violence or neglect during his imprisonment, is that Edmund suffered from wounds caused by opposing the force led by agents of the Duke of York.
Attempts to condemn the Deveraux-Herbert upheavals happened on 15 February 1457 at a Great Council, which opened at Coventry and closed some time before 14 March. Unfortunately there are no contemporary accounts of this council that survives but there is still the preface of 1459's act of attainder of the Duke and his followers. According to the preamble, the chancellor made divers rehearsals to the Duke of York which the Duke of Buckingham, on behalf of all the lords present, stated that the Duke of York could only lean on the King’s grace. Going on demanding York should be punished, should there be any repeat, but the preamble does not say of what. The document of the indictments makes no direct accusations to York which makes it difficult to directly blame him for Edmund’s death, even though Herbert and Devereux had to appear before the oyer and terminer sitting at Hereford from 2 to 7 April.  For Herbert and Devereux the legal process went on for a few months and at the end it is difficult to see why King Henry responded to these men like he did, Herbert received a general pardon but Devereux was imprisoned and York received different modest gestures of reconciliations.