The Tudor’s are one of history’s most famous families and their association with Wales stems back to their origins all the way to Henry Tudor landing in Dale to begin his march towards Bosworth and the crown.
The earliest Tudors date back to 1240 where they were landowners in Four Cantrels (later Denbigh) and later served Llywelyn ab lorwerth. Ednyfed Fychan, steward to the Prince, married a daughter of Lord Rhys and his sons also followed into representing the Prince of Gwynedd. One of these sons was Tudur ap Ednyfed (Tudur son of Ednyfed) whose service was rewarded with land in North Wales, where the Tudor dynasties origins begin.
When Edward I successes the English throne in 1272 he set his sights on conquering Wales and the descendants of Ednyfed saw that it would be more beneficial for them to support the new King. Their decision to switch sides paid off when Edward I took control of the country. However, not everyone in the family was happy with the new King and they joined a failed rebellion against the monarch. One of these rebels was Tudur Hen, Lord of Penmyndd, who quickly swore his allegiance to Edward of Caernarfon and when he died his land passed to his son Goronwy ap Tudur (Goronwy son of Tudur).
Tudur Hen had five sons, they all held positions of importance in North Wales. They were all loyal to the current King, Richard II and two of the brothers Rhys and Gwilym served the King in Ireland whilst on campaign. Richard II was deposed in 1399 by his cousin Henry Bolingbroke, Henry IV. Unhappy with Richard II being usurped the Tudur’s cousin Owain Glyndwr initiated a Welsh uprising against the new King. At first the rebellion was a success with many Welsh lands gained, however in 1401 Henry Percy issued an amnesty to all Welsh rebels except Owain Glyndwr, Rhys ap Tudur and Gwilym ap Tudur. The Tudur brothers were later pardoned after they were captured at Conwy castle. The third Tudur brother Maredydd had his land confiscated and was removed from his positions.
Maredydd ap Tudur married Margaret ferch Thomas and they had a son named Owen ap Tudur ap Maredydd. In an attempt to turn the Tudur families fortunes around they moved to London and Owen, aged seven, was sent to the English court of Henry IV acting as a page. Owen now also went by the name Owen Tudor to make his sound more anglicised by having a surname. Owen also went on the serve Henry V and fought at Agincourt in 1415.
After the death of Henry V in 1422 Owen was appointed the keeper of the wardrobe to the Dowager Queen, Catherine of Valois. The story goes that they met and fell in love when he tripped over and fell into her lap, although this is unproven. The soon married, however it broke a law that stated that the King’s permission was required. Owen and Catherine had two sons, Edmund and Jasper who grew up in the court of their half brother Henry VI. They were granted the Earldoms of Richmond and Pembroke respectively and in return they remained loyal to the King and the House of Lancaster. Owen Tudor went on to lead Lancastrian armies during the Wars of the Roses and was ultimately captured during the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross by Edward, Earl of March (later Edward IV).
His sons Edmund and Jasper continued to fight for Henry VI. In 1455 Edmund was married to Lady Margaret Beaufort, descendant of John of Gaunt through his illegitimate children. Edmund Tudor died from the plague two months before his son was born. This child would grow up to become King Henry VII.
Henry Tudor as King Henry VII and his mother Margaret Beaufort
During Henry VI’s reign, Jasper was charged with maintaining Lancastrian ties in Wales and also looked after his widowed sister in law and her infant, Henry. Upon Edward IV’s ascension and the rise of the House of York, Jasper remained loyal to Henry VI and his Queen Margaret of Anjou. Once Henry VI was captured and murdered and the Lancastrian cause temporarily lost. Jasper fled from Tenby, Wales with the young Henry and they fled to Brittany in order to keep Henry safe. Jasper taught and trained Henry. Jasper was always gaining support for the Lancastrian claim to the throne whilst Henry’s mother was promoting her son as the heir to the Lancastrian throne.
Jasper, Henry and 2000 men set sail from Harfleur, France on 1st August 1485 and landed in Dale on the west coast of Wales. They marched towards Richard III’s army capturing town and gaining more and more supporters as they went finally meeting on Bosworth battlefield on the 22nd August. Where Richard III was killed in battle and it saw the end of the Plantagenet rule and the rise of the Tudors to the throne.