Tony Riches is a UK historical fiction author living in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Here he discusses his latest novel about Owen Tudor, the Welsh servant who married the Queen of England and founded the Tudor dynasty:
I was born near Pembroke Castle and often visit the small room where the thirteen-year-old Lady Margaret Beaufort gave birth to the future king, Henry Tudor. I also recently stood on the remote beach at Mill Bay near Milford Haven, imagining how Jasper Tudor would have felt as he approached with Henry and his mercenary army to ride to Bosworth - and change the history of Britain.
These experiences made me wonder about Owen Tudor. All I knew was that he was a Welsh servant who somehow married the beautiful young widow of King Henry V, Queen Catherine of Valois, and began this fascinating dynasty. I wanted to research his story in as much detail as possible and to sort out the many myths from the facts. There are, of course, huge gaps in the historical records, which only historical fiction can help to fill.
There are numerous references to Owen in other books – but I was surprised to discover no one had tackled a full account of his life. Most authors seemed to lose interest in what happens to Owen after the death of Queen Catherine. I felt Owen Tudor’s story deserved to be told, as he was thirty-seven when Catherine died and he lived to the age of sixty. It was fascinating to explore his later adventures as a Captain in Normandy and his part in the beginning of the civil war which became known as the Wars of the Roses. Amongst other things, I discovered he fathered another son, Dafydd Owen, at the age of fifty-nine, who became a knight and fought at the side of King Henry at the Battle of Bosworth.
As I started the research, I realised the story of Owen’s son, Jasper Tudor, would need a whole book to do it justice. I also decided that Owen’s grandson Henry and his marriage to the intriguing Elizabeth of York would be an ideal subject for a third book – and the idea of a ‘Tudor Trilogy’ was born. I hope this new Tudor trilogy will help people understand and take more interest in the life and times of Owen Tudor, his sons Edmund and Jasper - and his grandson King Henry VII.
Owen was buried in the chapel of the Greyfriars Church in Hereford, later pulled down after the Dissolution of the Monasteries. A plaque marks the spot of his execution in Hereford High Street, his only memorial. I would like to remember Owen, not as a victim of the Wars of the Roses, but as an adventurer, a risk-taker, a man who lived his life to the full and made his mark on the world through his descendants.