When he was born on June 11, 1431, he was already the son of a Queen. Later in his life, he would father a son who would go on to be the King of England. However, despite lending his name to one of the most famous royal dynasties in English history, Edmund Tudor is virtually unknown. However, his short life was interesting and eventful.
Shortly after the death of King Henry V, his widow, the Dowager Queen Catherine secretly entered into a relationship with Owen Tudor, a Welsh courtier. Catherine was the daughter of King Charles VI of France, and the mother of the young King Henry VI, who was born a few months before his father’s death. It was while she was living with her infant son that Catherine met Owen, who was possibly a member of the Dowager Queen’s household. As it was unprecedented for a King’s widow to remarry, Catherine and Owen were forced to wed in secret. Catherine became pregnant soon after, and stopped living with her royal son, who was ten years old by then.
Their first child, Edmund Tudor, was born in Hertfordshire, away from the hustle and bustle of the Royal Court. Another son, Jasper, was born soon afterwards. Because the Tudors led an extremely private life, it remains uncertain as to how many children Catherine and Owen had. Sadly, Catherine died in childbirth in 1437, and with the Dowager Queen dead, the King’s courtiers arrested and imprisoned her second husband for marrying without the young King Henry’s permission.
With their father in prison, six-year old Edmund and his younger brother were suddenly left without a guardian. They were brought up by Katherine de la Pole, the sister of the Duke of Suffolk. Making use of her brother’s close connection with the King, Katherine persuaded Henry to take an interest in his younger half-brothers. King Henry grew very fond of the two boys, and they joined his household. He also granted a general pardon to Owen Tudor, and restored his lands to him.
As they grew older, Edmund and Jasper become an integral part of King Henry’s court. When he turned 18, Edmund was made the Earl of Richmond, which meant that he ranked higher than everyone except Dukes in the Royal Court. As blood relations of the King, both Tudor brothers were part of his intimate circle of advisors. Edmund also received sizable grants of money and land, including Baynard’s Castle in London.
in 1455, Edmund was married to 12 year-old Margaret Beaufort, who was the daughter of the Duke of Somerset and a descendant of King Edward III. However, at the time of their marriage, England was in turmoil. King Henry had taken ill, and was catatonic and incapable of running the country. It was around this time that Richard, Duke of York began his bid for power, setting into motion a series of events that would lead to the Wars of the Roses.
When the war began with the First Battle of St Albans, Edmund was not present, having been sent to Wales to enforce the King’s authority. Meanwhile, King Henry had been captured by the Duke of York, who was named Protector of England during his illness. In 1456, York sent an army to South Wales, where they took Carmarthen Castle and captured Edmund Tudor.
Edmund died of the plague on November 3, 1456, while still in imprisonment. He was 25 years old, and he left behind a young widow who was pregnant with their son. Edmund’s only child was born a few months after his death, and went on to become King Henry VII, the first Tudor King of England.