Henry Tudor arrived at Mill Bay, Milford Haven this day in 1485, this was his first step to claiming the crown of England.
He landed here to avoid detection but also because he was familiar with the area. He had been born at Pembroke Castle and his uncle Jasper Tudor is thought to have maintained contact with the local people here even though he was was out of the country. Henry landed in the secluded bay with around about two thousand French mercenaries, we can only wonder as he was marching his troops toward Bosworth if he really though he could pull it off.
Lewys Glyn Cothi a 15th-century Welsh poet wrote the following lines
The mightiest of Christendom,
And through a fault it was lost:
At Banbury the vengeance was exacted
Upon fair Wales, and the great fine.
There was heard all at once
Crying of battle between great spears.
He was referring to the deaths of William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke and his brother Richard who were executed following the Battle of Edgecote in 1469. Of the Herbert brothers death Guto'r Glyn, another Welsh poet wrote
"I was killed, I and my nation too."
The moment that this Earl was killed"
On the 26th July 1469 the Battle of Edgecote took place in Northamptonshire between the royal army of William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke and northern rebels under one Robin of Redesdale. History tells us that Pembroke’s army was weak due to the Earl of Devon withdrawing his troops taking the majority of the archers with him. This action culminated in a victory for the rebels.
On the day that followed the battle William Herbert was summary executed at Northampton on the order of the Earl of Warwick who was there to watch. His body was taken for burial at Tintern Abbey. In his will Herbert instructed his widow Anne, to betroth their daughter Maud to Henry Tudor, but this was not to be, Tudors mother would have other plans for him. However, William's son also William, did marry into the royal family (of sorts) his second wife was Kathrine, the illegitimate daughter of Richard III, he had been married to the sister of Elizabeth Woodville previous to that. Maud, went on to marry Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland.
With regard to the execution of Richard Herbert contemporary sources state that he was executed on the day of the battle. His body was taken to Abergavenny and interred at St Mary’s Priory.
So why did Richard Neville have Herbert executed without trial? Well, they were rivals, this was due in part to Herbert’s influence with Edward IV, his increasing power in Wales and the relationship between Herbert and the family of Elizabeth Woodville, this Warwick saw as a threat to his influence in the royal court. Therefore, the answer is quite simply revenge.
You can read more on the subject of revenge in my blog Vengeance in Mine.
When the remains of Richard III were found in 2012, it was discovered that he had sustained a number of injuries during the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 where he fought for his crown.
On examination, Richard's skull presented a number of wounds, two of which were massive. The first wound examined is consistent with a halberd or something similar being used. The second was a jagged hole where a bladed weapon had been thrust right through the bone, resulting in an indention opposite this wound, showing that the blade had penetrated into the kings head to a depth of 10.5cm.
Both injuries would have ended the kings life, but which came first, and what doe's history tell us?
Legend has it that the fatal blow was caused by a halberd struck by Welshman Rhys ap Thomas, a man once allied to the Yorkist party who traitorously changed his allegiance. With one swipe of his halberd, it has been said, he took the life of the king who was the last monarch to die in battle.
Of course, we can never know who stuck that last blow, but one intriguing piece of evidence points to the fact that Rhys ap Thomas may have been Richard's nemesis, and very proud he was of it too!
The medieval bed is synonymous with wealth and the social standing of its owner, one bed that shows this quite clearly is a bed that now stands in Rhys ap Thomas's room in Derwydd House in Llandybie, Carmarthenshire.
Made out of Welsh oak, only the three valance's are considered to be from the original bed, it is one of the side valances that may prove that the Rhys ap Thomas legend is true and that this treacherous Welshman did indeed strike the fatal blow against Richard III. A scene carved into the wood, depicts two mounted knights facing one another, between them stands a soldier with a halberd, it is this soldier that is thought to be Rhys Ap Thomas.
The bed is dated to about 1505, the same time that Henry VII appointed the Welshman to his privy council and made him a Knight of the Garter.
There's no better way of boasting how you climbed the ladder of success, never mind that you let the victor of Bosworth walk all over you, than carving your greatest achievement on your most prized possession.
Rhys ap Thomas is said to have been "a man of integrity and honour " and that of course is a matter of opinion.
It has also been suggested, I think wrongly, that the larger soldier behind the mounted knight is Rhys ap Thomas, however either one of these men could depict this Welshman, for the weapons both men are carrying would have caused the fatal injuries that resulted in the death of King Richard III. Of course, which ever one it was depends on how this Welshman saw himself and not necessarily the weapon he used. If Rhys ap Thomas saw himself as the man who brought an end to the Plantagenet dynasty and was reasonable for kick starting the Tudor dynasty then he may choose to place himself in between the two main players, or he may wish to have himself seen as a mighty poleaxe wielding welsh hero Welsh poets like to write so much about.
What ever way Rhys ap Thomas chose to boast of his exploits, or which ever weapon he used I think that we can say that this legend is possibly true.
Yesterday my research took me to Wales, via books and the internet sadly, to the castle of Pen-Pont that once stood on the bank of the River Usk. My interest in Wales is concerned with the Vaughan family of Tretower, I found some interesting stuff while I was rifling through some of my notes and it links nicely with my blog, "Vengeance in Mine" which I posted here on my website a while ago.
Here is what I found.......
Alice Bredwardine (the Bredwardine's were the ancestors of the Vaughans) was the mother of Sir John Scudamore who had secretly married the daughter of Owen Glyndwr.
The story goes that John and Alice had hidden Glyndwr after which he was never heard of again.
Interestingly, the Glyndwr legend is not unlike that of Cornwall's King Arthur, where it is said that he will one day appear to save his native Cornwall, Glynwr too is set to re appear to save his beloved Wales.
A statute had been passed which forbade any Englishman with an alliance with Glendwr from holding any office, so Scudamore was stripped of his titles. The Scudamore’s son, was Henry, it was this Henry who was captured after Battle of Mortimer’s Cross, along with John Throckmorton and Owen Tudor, although he and Throckmorton may have escaped execution at Hereford, Owen Tudor, was not so lucky, his executioner was Roger Vaughan, the great great grandson of the Bredwardines (not Alice's line I must point out.)
They say that truth (if this story is true) is better than fiction....I have to agree with that!
Here is a link to my blog if you wish to read where Henry Scudamore, Owen Tudor and Roger Vaughan fit in.
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