Fact of the Day: 30th April

On this day in 1513 Edmund de la Pole, Yorkist pretender to the English throne, was executed on the orders of Henry VIII.

After the death of his older brother, Edmund became the leading Yorkist claimant to the throne. Nevertheless, he succeeded to the title Duke of Suffolk in 1491, though in 1493 Edmund’s title was demoted to the rank of Earl. He married Margaret, daughter of Sir Richard Scrope.


In 1501 the headstrong Edmund fled the Kingdom of England with the help of Sir James Tyrrell, who was subsequently executed for these actions. Edmund sought the help of Maximilian I, the Holy Roman Emperor.

In 1502 Maximillian agreed to a treaty not to back de la Pole should he make an attempt on the throne of England. In 1506, Maximilian’s son, Philip of Burgundy, was blown off course while sailing, and reluctantly and unexpectedly became a guest of Henry VII.


Needing to set sail again in order to claim his wife’s inheritance (Castile), he was persuaded by Henry to hand over the Earl of Suffolk. Henry agreed to the proviso that Suffolk would not be harmed and restricted himself to imprisoning the Earl. The next king, Henry VIII, did not feel bound to this agreement and had Suffolk executed in 1513.

Montaigne, in his “Essays”, said that Henry VII, in his will, instructed his son to put Suffolk to death immediately after his own decease, and he criticisd Henry for requiring that his son do what he himself would not do.


Fact of the day: 2nd February

On this day in 1461 Owen Tudor died. Owen Tudor was a Welsh soldier and courtier. He is particularly remembered for his role in founding England’s Tudor dynasty – including his relationship with, and his secret marriage to, Catherine of France, widow of King Henry V of England.

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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 beheaded 4 February following 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.”