Tudor, Owen

(d. 1461)
   Through his marriage to the widow of HENRY V, Owen Tudor, the grandfather of HENRY VII, established the Welsh house of TUDOR as part of the English nobility. Owain ap Maredudd (Owain son of Maredudd), son of an ancient Welsh landholding family, came to England around 1420. Anglicizing his name to Owen Tudor (from Tudur, his grandfather’s name), he obtained a position in the household of Catherine of Valois, the wife of Henry V. He began a sexual relationship with the widowed queen some time in the late 1420s. Because a statute of 1428 had made it unlawful to marry the dowager queen without the king’s consent, something the regency COUNCIL then ruling for HENRY VI was unlikely to give to an obscure Welshman, the couple’s marriage, which occurred about 1430, was kept secret. The truth came out when Catherine became pregnant, giving birth to at least four children in the 1430s. As long as Catherine lived, the couple was not molested, and Tudor was granted the rights of an Englishman by PARLIAMENT in 1432. On the queen’s death in 1437, the Tudor children were placed in the care of the abbess of Barking, and Owen Tudor was summoned to the king’s presence. Fearful of prosecution under the statute of 1428, Tudor demanded a safe-conduct and immediately took SANCTUARY at Westminster upon arriving in LONDON. Finally persuaded by friends to appear before the council, he acquitted himself of any changes related to the marriage and was released. However, on his way to WALES, he was arrested and committed to Newgate prison, and all his possessions were confiscated. He remained in confinement until July 1439. In November, the king pardoned Tudor for all offenses and graciously took him into the royal household.
   Henry VI also treated his Tudor half brothers with kindness, paying for their education and raising the two eldest to the English PEERAGE in 1452—Edmund TUDOR as earl of Richmond and Jasper TUDOR as earl of Pembroke. After 1439,Owen Tudor lived quietly as an English gentleman, having received a pension and several minor offices from Henry VI. When civil war erupted in 1459, Tudor, as a loyal Lancastrian, acquired some of the estates stripped from the exiled Yorkist leaders by the COVENTRY PARLIAMENT. A member of the Lancastrian force that fought under his son Pembroke at the Battle of MORTIMER’S CROSS in February 1461, Tudor was captured and executed by order of Edward, earl of March (see Edward IV, King of England).
   See also all other entries under Tudor
   Further Reading: 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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