Tudor, Edmund, Earl of Richmond

Tudor, Edmund, Earl of Richmond
(c. 1430–1456)
   As a half brother of HENRY VI and a member of an ancient Welsh family, Edmund Tudor, earl of Richmond, was charged with securing WALES for the house of LANCASTER in the mid-1450s. Through his marriage to Margaret BEAUFORT, a kinswoman of Henry VI,Tudor secured a place in the succession for his posthumous son, Henry Tudor, who, as the last heir of Lancaster, established the Welsh house ofTUDOR on the English throne in 1485. Edmund Tudor was the eldest son of a secret marriage between Catherine of Valois, the widowed mother of Henry VI, and one of her household servants, a Welshman named Owen TUDOR. After his mother’s death in 1437, Edmund and his younger brother, Jasper TUDOR, were put in the custody of the abbess of Barking until 1440, when Henry VI made provision for their education as English gentlemen. Although the Tudors lacked English royal blood and had no claim to the throne, the king acknowledged them as half brothers and knighted Edmund in December 1449. In 1452, Henry VI, who had no full siblings nor (at the time) children, sought to expand the royal family by raising the Tudors to the PEERAGE—Edmund as earl of Richmond and Jasper as earl of Pembroke.To support the dignity of these new titles, the king granted both brothers extensive estates. In 1454, when Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York, became protector for the mentally incapacitated king (see Henry VI, Illness of), Richmond and Pembroke maintained good relations with the duke. Although loyal to Henry, neither Tudor was closely identified with York’s rivals, and both supported reforms to the royal COURT and household proposed by York. In 1455, a recovered Henry VI arranged Richmond’s marriage to twelve-year-old Margaret Beaufort, a wealthy heiress and royal cousin. This marriage tied Richmond more firmly to the Lancastrian dynasty and promised his children a distant place in the succession.
   Because of his Welsh name and blood, Richmond was sent to Wales in 1455 as the king’s representative. The appointment may have been made by York, who was a large Welsh landowner and again in charge of the government following the Battle of ST. ALBANS in May 1455. In Wales, where local rivalries were already aligning with the houses of Lancaster or YORK, Richmond worked to reduce disorder, a task that required him to take arms against Welsh rebels. By August 1456, he had greatly restored royal authority, an achievement that threatened York, who was no longer in control of the royal government. To recover York’s position in Wales, the duke’s chief Welsh lieutenants, Sir William HERBERT and Sir Walter DEVEREUX, captured and imprisoned Richmond. Although shortly released from confinement, Richmond died at Carmarthen on 1 November 1456 at the age of twenty-six. His death was probably due to illness, but foul play is possible, given his age and the increasing political turmoil in which he was embroiled. Almost three months after Richmond’s death, on 28 January 1457, the earl’s widow gave birth to a son who in 1485 became king as HENRY VII.
   See also all other entries under Tudor
   Further Reading:
   - Evans, H.T.,Wales and the Wars of the Roses (Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: Alan Sutton Publishing, 1995);
   - Griffiths, Ralph A., The Reign of King Henry VI (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981);
   - Griffiths, Ralph A., and Roger S. Thomas, The Making of the Tudor Dynasty (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1985).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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