Sir Owen Meredith Tudor (Welsh: Owain ap Maredudd ap Tudur pronounced [ˈəuain ap maˈrɛdɨð ap ˈtɛudʊr]; c. 1400 – 2 February 1461) was a Welsh soldier and courtier, descended from a daughter of the Welsh prince Rhys ap Gruffudd, "Lord Rhys". However, Owen Tudor is particularly remembered for his role in founding England's Tudor dynasty – including his relationship with, and probable secret marriage to, Catherine of Valois, widow of King Henry V of England.
Owen's father Maredudd ap Tudur (English:Meredith) had been (together with his two brothers Rhys and Gwilym) stalwarts of Owain Glyndwr's uprising of 1400. When that uprising ebbed away Maredudd lost most of his land to the English Crown. His saw his chance to better his position in society by moving to London and changing his son's name from Owain ap Maredydd to Owain Tudor. This is one of the first instances where a surname is used by Welshmen. Had he taken his father's name (rather than his grandfather) the royal English Dynasty that ruled England for the next hundred years would have been called The Meredith Dynasty.
In London, Owen (or Owain) became the ward of his father's second cousin, Lord Rhys. At the age of seven he was sent to the English court of Henry IV as page to the King's Steward. He went on to fight for the English at Agincourt in 1415, and appears to have been promoted to squire for his efforts. After Agincourt he was granted "English rights" and permitted to use Welsh arms in England. (King Henry IV had deprived Welshmen of many civil rights).
Goronwy ab Ednyfed
(also known as Tudur ap Goronwy)
Goronwy ap Tudur Hen
Elen ferch Tomos
(mother of Owain Glyndwr)
Marged ferch Tomos
Tudur ap Goronwy
Maredudd ap Tudur
Rhys ap Tudur
Gwilym ap Tudur
Owen Tudor (Owain Tudur)
Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond
Henry VII of England
Owen was a descendant of Rhys ap Gruffydd (1132–1197) via the lineages that follow:
Rhys had a daughter, Gwenllian ferch (daughter of) Rhys, who was married to Ednyfed Fychan, Seneschal of the Kingdom of Gwynedd (d. 1246).
Ednyfed Fychan and Gwenllian ferch Rhys were the parents of Goronwy, Lord of Tref-gastell (d. 1268). Goronwy was married to Morfydd ferch Meurig, daughter of Meurig of Gwent. (Meurig was the son of Ithel, grandson of Rhydd and great-grandson of Iestyn ap Gwrgant. Iestyn had been the last King of Gwent (reigned 1081–1091) before its conquest by the Normans.)
Goronwy and Morfydd were parents of Tudur Hen, Lord of Penmynydd (d. 1311). Tudur Hen later married Angharad ferch Ithel Fychan, daughter of Ithel Fychan ap Ithel Gan, Lord of Englefield. They were the parents of Goronwy ap Tudur, Lord of Penmynydd (d. 1331).
Goronwy ap Tudur was married to Gwerfyl ferch Madog, daughter of Madog ap Dafydd, Baron of Hendwr. They were the parents of Tudur Fychan, Lord of Penmynydd (d. 1367).
Tudur Fychan married Margaret ferch Thomas of Is Coeod, who's direct ancestor was Anghard ferch Llewellyn, daughter of Llewellyn the Great. (Margaret was the daughter of Thomas ap Llewelyn, Lord of Is Coed, South Wales, and his wife Eleanor ferch Philip. Margaret's sister Ellen ferch Thomas was the mother of Owain Glendoŵr (the last native "Prince of Wales"). Her sister Eleanor ferch Thomas was the ancestor of the Newport family and the Earl of Bradford and the Lingen family and Baron Lingen of Lingen. Margaret's paternal grandfather was Llewelyn ab Owain, Lord of Gwynnionydd. Her maternal grandfather was Philip ab Ifor, Lord of Is Coed.)(ref Visitation of Shropshire 1623,R Tresswell. Somerset Herald)
Tudur and Margaret were parents to
Maredudd ap Tudur (died 1406); Maredudd married Margaret ferch Dafydd. (Margaret was the daughter of Dafydd Fychan, Lord of Anglesey, and his wife, Nest ferch Ieuan.)
Maredudd ap Tudur and Margaret ferch Dafydd were the parents of Owen Tudor.
There is little doubt that Owen was of gentle birth. Queen Catherine, upon being denied permission by her son's regents to wed John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, allegedly said upon leaving court, "I shall marry a man so basely, yet gently born, that my lord regents may not object." (The objection to Somerset was that he was a second cousin of Henry V through the legitimised Beaufort line sired by John of Gaunt).
Catherine of Valois
Owen entered the service of Queen Catherine of Valois as keeper of the Queen's wardrobe, (essentially her major-domo) after the death of her husband Henry V of England on 22 August 1422. The Queen initially lived with her infant son, King Henry VI, before moving to Wallingford Castle early in his reign and taking Tudor with her. Catherine left court when her son's regents, John of Bedford and Humphrey of Gloucester (brothers of Henry V) denied her permission to marry John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset and scion of a legitimised Plantagenet line. Ironically, Somerset became Henry VII's other grandfather. No documentation survives of her marriage to Owen Tudor in 1429. Parliament passed a resolution in 1428 forbidding dowager queens to remarry without the king's permission, so the marriage of Catherine and Owen Tudor may not have been legally valid. Still, they were communicants, and kept a chaplain. Henry VI in due time gave his two oldest Tudor half-brothers the rank of Earl though, as a signal recognition of their rank, they ranked above Marquesses and immediately below non-royal Dukes. Henry VI also issued an edict that the legitimisation of his two Tudor half-brothers was unnecessary. Henry VI knighted his stepfather Owen, made him Warden of Forestries, and appointed him a Deputy Lord Lieutenant. Prior to his creation as a Knight Bachelor, Owen, though excused from duty, was appointed an Esquire to the King's Person. Ironically, many years later, in order that he could command Henry VI's forces at Mortimer's Cross, Owen was made a Knight Banneret.
Owen and Catherine had at least six children:
Thomas Tudor (6 November 1429 – Westminster Abbey, London, 1501, buried there). He became a Monk at Westminster Abbey. Known as Edward Bridgewater while a Monk.
Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond (1430 – 1 November 1456). He married Lady Margaret Beaufort, and fathered Henry Tudor, the future king. He died shortly before his son's birth.
Jasper Tudor, 1st Earl of Pembroke and 1st Duke of Bedford (1431 – 21/26 December 1495). He married Catherine Woodville, daughter to Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers and Jacquetta of Luxembourg. Interestingly, Jasper married Catherine, the sister-in-law of Edward IV, in 1485, immediately after Henry VII married her niece Elizabeth of York, several months after Bosworth Field. Jasper had no legitimate children but did have two illegitimate children. One was Joan Tudor, an ancestor of Oliver Cromwell.
Owen Tudor (1432–1510). He became a Monk at Westminster Abbey.
Tacinda Tudor (b. 1433). She married Reginald Grey, Baron Grey of Wilton (1420/1421 – 22 February 1494), and had issue.
(Daughter) Tudor (b. c. 1435). She became a Nun. Only shown in Europäisch Stammtafeln Band II tafel 63.
Margaret (Catherine) Tudor (b. Abbey of St Saviour, Bermondsey, London, January 1437). Died there shortly after birth.
Owen Tudor had at least one illegitimate child:
Sir David Owen (1459–1528), knighted in 1485 by his nephew, King Henry VII, at Milford Haven. He married firstly Anne Blount, daughter of William Blount, and secondly before 1488 Mary (de) Bohun (born 1459), daughter of Sir John (de) Bohun, of Midhurst and Anne Arden, and had:
Sir Henry Owen, who married and had:
Anne Owen, married Sir Arthur Hopton
After Queen Catherine's death, Owen Tudor was imprisoned at Newgate Prison, but later released.
Participation in the Wars of the Roses
Owen Tudor became an early casualty of the Wars of the Roses (1455–1487) between the House of Lancaster and the House of York. On 2 February 1461, as a man of advanced years, Owen led the Lancastrian forces at the Battle of Mortimer's Cross against Edward, Earl of March. They were defeated. Owen was subsequently executed, beheaded at Hereford along with other prisoners, and buried there. He is said to have expected a reprieve because of his relationship with the former royal family. Owen reportedly was not convinced of his approaching death until the collar was ripped off his doublet by the executioner. At this point he is alleged to have said that "the head which used to lie in Queen Catherine's lap would now lie in the executioner's basket".
Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, Owen Tudor's Welsh grandson, became King Henry VII of England, founding the Tudor dynasty, when his supporters defeated those of Richard III at Bosworth Field in 1485. While the Wars of the Roses effectively ended at Tewkesbury in 1471, Richard III's alleged murder of the Princes in the Tower, coupled with his invalidation by Act of Parliament, subsequently repealed, of the marriage of Edward IV to Elizabeth Woodville caused the English people to rally behind the last reasonably legitimate British adult male descendant of Edward III, Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond.
Sir Owen's descendants include Charles I of England and Oliver Cromwell; King Juan Carlos of Spain and Elizabeth II, the current Queen regnant of the United Kingdom and of 15 other independent states.
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