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The Tudor name

Before I continue to discuss the Royal Ancestry of Henry VII of England I’d like to delve into some history of the Tudor name itsel and it’s usage.

The name Tewdur or Tudor is derived from the words tud “territory” and rhi “king”. Owen Tudor took it as a surname on being knighted. It is doubtful whether the Tudor kings used the name on the throne. Kings and princes were not seen as needing a name, and a ‘Tudor’ name for the royal family was hardly known in the sixteenth century. The royal surname was never used in official publications, and hardly in ‘histories’ of various sorts before 1584.

Henry VII, King of England and Lord of Ireland

Monarchs were not anxious to publicize their descent in the paternal line from a Welsh adventurer, stressing instead continuity with the historic English and French royal families. Their subjects did not think of them as ‘Tudors’, or of themselves as ‘Tudor people’”. Princes and Princesses would have been known as “of England”. The medieval practice of colloquially calling princes after their place birth (e.g. Henry of Bolingbroke for Henry IV or Henry of Monmouth for Henry V) was not followed. Henry VII was likely known as “Henry of Richmond” before his taking of the throne and not Henry Tudor.

In my posts about the Maternal Ancestry of Henry VII we saw that he descended from both the Kings of England and the Kings of France many times over. In this post I’d like to focus on Catherine of Valois, Henry’s maternal grandmother.

Catherine of Valois

Henry V of England died on August 31, 1422, leaving his wife, Queen Catherine of Valois, widowed. The Queen initially lived with her infant son, King Henry VI, before moving to Wallingford Castle early in his reign. In 1427, it is believed that Catherine began an affair with Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset. The evidence of this affair is questionable; however the liaison prompted a parliamentary statute regulating the remarriage of queens of England. The historian G. L. Harris suggested that it was possible that the affair resulted in the birth of Edmund Tudor. Harriss wrote: “By its very nature the evidence for Edmund ‘Tudor’s’ parentage is less than conclusive, but such facts as can be assembled permit the agreeable possibility that Edmund ‘Tudor’ and Margaret Beaufort were first cousins and that the royal house of ‘Tudor’ sprang in fact from Beauforts on both sides.”Despite the statute it is accepted that Catherine married Owen at some unknown later date.

Catherine lived in the king’s household, presumably so she could care for her young son, but the arrangement also enabled the councillors to watch over the queen dowager herself. Nevertheless, Catherine entered into a sexual relationship with Welshman Owen ap Maredudd ap Tudor, who, in 1421, in France, had been in the service of Henry V’s steward Sir Walter Hungerford. Tudor was probably appointed keeper of Catherine’s household or wardrobe. The relationship began when Catherine lived at Windsor Castle, and she became pregnant with their first child there. At some point, she stopped living in the King’s household and in May 1432 Parliament granted Owen the rights of an Englishman. This was important because of Henry IV’s laws limiting the rights of Welshmen.

Catherine of Valois’s arms as queen consort

There is no clear evidence that Catherine of Valois and Owen Tudor actually were married. No documentation of such a marriage exists. Moreover, even if they had been married, the question arises whether the marriage would have been lawful, given the Act of 1428. At the same time, there is no contemporaneous evidence that the validity of the marriage and the legitimacy of her children were questioned in secular or canon law. From the relationship of Owen Tudor and Queen Catherine descended the Tudor dynasty of England, starting with King Henry VII. Tudor historians asserted that Owen and Catherine had been married, for their lawful marriage would add respectability and stronger royal ties to the claims of the Tudor dynasty.

Owen and Catherine had at least six children. Edmund, Jasper and Owen were all born away from court. They had one daughter, Margaret, who became a nun and died young.

When discussing the maternal ancestry of King Henry VII of England I didn’t mention several times that Henry was descended from the kings of France. I was reserving the discussion about Catherine of Valois to cite some of the prominent royals from France that Henry is a descendant. I will begin with the founder of the French House of Capet, Hugh Capet. Keep in mind as I discuss the ancestry of Hugh Capet, these are also ancestors of Henry VII.

Hugh Capet, King of the Franks

Hugh Capet (c. 939 – October 24, 996) was the King of the Franks from 987 to 996. He is the founder and first king from the House of Capet. He was elected as the successor of the last Carolingian king, Louis V. Hugh was a descendant in the illegitimate line from Charlemagne, King of the Franks and Emperor of the Romans.

Descent and inheritance

The son of Hugh the Great, Duke of the Franks, and Hedwige of Saxony, daughter of the German king Heinrch I the Fowler, Hugh was born sometime between 938 and 941. He was born into a well-connected and powerful family with many ties to the royal houses of France and Germany.

Through his mother, Hugh was the nephew of Otto I the Great, Holy Roman Emperor; Heinrich I, Duke of Bavaria; Bruno the Great, Archbishop of Cologne; and finally, Gerberga of Saxony, Queen of the Franks. Gerberga was wife of Louis IV, King of the Franks and mother of Lothair of France and Charles, Duke of Lower Lorraine.

His paternal family, the Robertians, were powerful landowners in the Île-de-France. His grandfather had been King Robert I. King Odo was his granduncle and King Rudolph was his uncle by affinity. Hugh’s paternal grandmother was a legitimate descendant of Charlemagne.

From Hugh descends many Kings of France and Kings and Queens of England.

Charlemange, King of the Franks and Emperor of the Romans.

For a little fun I want to end this series demonstrating how Henry VII of England is a descendant of Heinrich VII, Holy Roman Emperor.

Heinrich VII (c. 1275 – August 24, 1313) was the King of Germany (or Rex Romanorum) from 1308 and Holy Roman Emperor from 1312. He was the first emperor of the House of Luxembourg. During his brief career he reinvigorated the imperial cause in Italy, which was racked with the partisan struggles between the divided Guelf and Ghibelline factions, and inspired the praise of Dino Compagni and Dante Alighieri. He was the first emperor since the death of Friedrich II in 1250, ending the great interregnum of the Holy Roman Empire; however, his premature death threatened to undo his life’s work. His son, Johann of Bohemia, failed to be elected as his successor. Heinrich VII was married to Margaret of Brabant (4 October 1276 – 14 December 1311), She was the daughter of Jean I, Duke of Brabant and Margaret of Flanders.

Johann of Bohemia (August 10, 1296 – August 26, 1346) was the Count of Luxembourg from 1313 and King of Bohemia from 1310 and titular King of Poland. He was the eldest son of the Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich VII and his wife Margaret of Brabant. He is well known for having died while fighting in the Battle of Crécy at age 50, after having been blind for a decade. Jean of Bohemia was married to Elizabeth of Bohemia (1292–1330) a princess of the Bohemian Přemyslid dynasty who became queen consort of Bohemia as the first wife of King John the Blind. She was the mother of Emperor Charles IV, King of Bohemia. She was the daughter of Wenceslaus II of Bohemia and Judith of Habsburg (Judith 1271 – 21 May 1297, also named Guta (Czech: Guta Habsburská), was a member of the House of Habsburg, was the youngest daughter of King Rudolf I of Germany and his wife Gertrude of Hohenburg.

Bonne of Luxemburg or Jutta of Luxemburg (May 20, 1315 – September 11, 1349), was born Jutta (Judith), the second daughter of Johann the Blind, king of Bohemia, and his first wife, Elisabeth of Bohemia. She was the first wife of King Jean II of France; however, as she died a year prior to his accession, she was never a French queen. Jutta was referred to in French historiography as Bonne de Luxembourg. She was a member of the House of Luxembourg. Among her children were Charles V of France, Philippe II, Duke of Burgundy, and Joan, Queen of Navarre.

Charles V, King of France

Charles V (21 January 1338 – 16 September 1380), called “the Wise” was King of France from 1364 to his death, the third from the House of Valois. His reign marked a high point for France during the Hundred Years’ War, with his armies recovering much of the territory held by the English, and successfully reversed the military losses of his predecessors. On April 8, 1350 Charles V was married to Joanna of Bourbon (3 February 1338 – 4 February 1378). She was born in the Château de Vincennes, a daughter of Peter I, Duke of Bourbon, and Isabella of Valois, a half-sister of Philippe VI of France.

Charles VI (3 December 1368 – 21 October 1422), called the Beloved and the Mad was King of France for 42 years from 1380 to his death in 1422, the fourth from the House of Valois. Charles VI married Isabeau of Bavaria (ca. 1371 – 24 September 1435) on 17 July 1385. She was born into the House of Wittelsbach as the eldest daughter of Duke Stephen III of Bavaria-Ingolstadt and Taddea Visconti of Milan. She gave birth to 12 children: Among them was Catherine of Valois who first married Henry VI, King of England and secondly to Owen Tudor and through her second marriage she was the Paternal grandmother of Henry VII of England. This concludes Henry VII’s descent from Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich VII.

Speaking of conclusions, this concludes my series on the Royal Ancestry of King Henry VII of England. Although he won the throne by conquest and his hereditary right was pretty week, he did have many royal ancestors from many of the prominent royal houses of Europe.