5 October 2015

Book Review: Jasper ~ The Tudor Kingmaker, by Sara Elin Roberts

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Welsh academic and author Dr Sara Elin Roberts has produced a fascinating and detailed account of the life of Sir Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, Duke of Bedford, who was second son of Owen Tudor and the widowed queen Catherine of Valois.  It was with Jasper's support that King Henry VII returned from exile to defeat Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth, leading to the establishment of the Tudor dynasty, yet Jasper has become what Dr Roberts calls ‘the forgotten kingmaker:’
‘Jasper was central to the world of the Wars of the Roses. He was, at different times, a key player in the unfolding, political game: a warrior in battles; a rebel fighter; a threat to the crown and the powers running the country; a potential claimant to the throne; and an exile.’
Although this is an academic study of Jasper’s life, I found it highly readable with a strong narrative thread. Dr Roberts draws from a wealth of contemporary sources from England, Wales and France, several of which were new to me, referenced in twenty-seven pages of endnotes. The book also has thirty colour illustrations and an informative appendix on the Welsh poetry and contemporary law texts which still survive. As well as providing a documented account of the events of the key people and events, the Welsh poems allow an often colourful insight into the late medieval period. 

Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in understanding the world of the early Tudors.

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About the Author

Dr Sara Elin Roberts is an historian specialising in the law, literature and culture of medieval Wales. Educated at Ysgol Gyfun Llangefni, Anglesey, she won the Richard Hughes Scholarship to study at the University of Wales, Bangor, where she achieved first class honours in Welsh and History. She won the J. B. Davies Scholarship to St. Hugh’s College, Oxford, where she gained a Master of Studies in Historical Research (Medieval). Her pioneering study, The Legal Triads of Medieval Wales was awarded the David Yale Prize by the Selden Society for a distinguished contribution to the study of the laws and legal institutions of England and Wales; and also the Hywel Dda Prize by the Board of Celtic Studies for her contribution to the field of Welsh law. Dr Roberts now lectures in medieval British history at the University of Chester and is also a regular contributor to Welsh historical issues on radio and television, including the BBC series "The Story of Wales"

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