second son of Owain Tudor and Catherine de Valois, widow of Henry V; for the circumstances of his parents' marriage, see the article on Owain Tudor. Born at Hatfield, Hertfordshire, he was brought up at the convent of Barking, Essex, with his elder brother, Edmund, and their interests appear to have been fostered under the kindly eye of their royal half-brother, Henry VI. In 1452-3 Jasper was knighted and, like his elder brother, was admitted to a share in counsels of state and provided with a suitable maintenance. Though created earl of Pembroke at this period it was not until Edmund's death in 1456 that his long association with the affairs of Wales began; he then took up residence at Pembroke and assumed the task which had apparently been intended for Edmund of organising a strong base in south-west Wales for the Lancastrian cause. Down to 1485 he confined his activities to Wales (when not in exile), devoting himself loyally and energetically to the young princes whom he, in turn, served. It is true that the records reveal an elusive personality and a man whose movements are often obscure and unfathomable, and yet one who left a deep impression on his generation and not least on the Welsh bards, who supported the cause of Lancaster against York.
On the outbreak of hostilities (having taken great pains to secure his rear in the south-west), he besieged and took Denbigh in 1460, then left for France to seek aid and, returning, probably landed at Milford Haven and reached Herefordshire in time to take part in the battle of Mortimer's Cross (February 1461). He escaped from the field in disguise, and shortly afterwards is found writing letters from Tenby in an attempt to rally resistance in North Wales. Later in the year he was a fugitive in Snowdonia, whence he escaped - after a further defeat near Caernarvon - to Ireland and later to Scotland. On three subsequent occasions before his last exile in Brittany, he returned to Wales and made abortive efforts to revive opposition to Edward IV, on the first two occasions making his escape by way of the coast near Harlech where he appears to have had friends among the local gentry. Finally, in the invasion of 1470, when he again landed in Wales, he failed to reach Tewkesbury in time to witness the second great defeat of the Lancastrians. Again he fled to Chepstow, where he appears to have come into fresh contact with his young nephew, Henry Richmond (see Henry VII), and his mother (Jasper had undertaken the early care and education of Henry before the latter fell for a time into Yorkist hands), and after a series of adventures he succeeded in getting them out of Wales to Brittany. No doubt Jasper was Henry's principal mentor during the Breton exile; he certainly landed with him at Milford in 1485, and fought at Bosworth. Subsequently, among other honours, he had bestowed on him the title of duke of Bedford and became justiciar of South Wales. In 1486, Henry gave him the lordship of Glamorgan. This was confirmed to him in 1488, and he held it till his death. Judging from the many scattered references to him during the next decade, he spent his declining years as an honoured elder statesman. Between 1483-5 he married Catherine Woodville. There was no issue of the marriage. He died 21 or 26 December 1495, and if the wish expressed in his will was carried out, was buried at the abbey of Keynsham, near Bristol.
Published date: 1959
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