Interview with Debra Bayani
Debra Bayani is a researcher and writer who has a passion for all aspects of life during the Middle Ages in Medieval Briton. She has done a great deal of research into this time period as well as the Wars of the Roses and has written a book about Jasper Tudor, uncle of King Henry VII. In addition to this Debra has studied Fashion History and History of Art. Bayani currently runs a website and Facebook page dedicated to all aspects of life during the Wars of the Roses.
I have had the pleasure of reading Bayani’s book on Jasper Tudor and I found it to be an informative and captivating read. I am honoured to be able to interview Debra and to ask her a few questions about Jasper Tudor.
What first drew you to Jasper Tudor?
It was when first reading a novel about the Wars of the Roses that I was drawn to Jasper. He was described as a heroic and selfless man fighting for what he thought was right. I thought this was very interesting and such an exception compared to most other men of his time and status. I then started to look for more information but did not find that much, just some fragments in books about the period – but that was it. In the weeks that followed I started to do more in depth research through archives and before I knew it I was writing a book.
How did you go about researching your book?
The first months I did but research and, since I am somewhat old-fashioned, I wrote a lot on paper (don’t ask me why but for some reason this works for me) before typing it all on my laptop and make changes. In the meantime I found two very skilled translators who could translate Latin documents into English and the Welsh poems that related to Jasper and his relatives. All in all the whole process of researching and writing Jasper’s biography took me three years. It was like eating and sleeping Jasper in these years and it was an awkward feeling to let this go when the book was finally published.
What was the hardest part about researching/writing your book?
Having a family with young children it was very hard for me to find a balance between family life and writing, especially the last 4 to 5 months before finishing the book I remember that I was so determent to finish and publish the book but also not wanting it to have much effect on my children that I decided to write during the nights until the early morning, just catching 2 hours of sleep or non at all. It was tough but with the support of my husband I could also spend the Sunday afternoons writing without interruptions and I was able to finish the book.
What is the most interesting fact that you learnt about Jasper through your research?
The character, his selflessness, is what fascinates me the most.
Why do you think Jasper married too late in life?
I think it had to do with several matters and circumstances. When his older brother Edmund married Margaret Beaufort in November 1455 there weren’t many other wealthy young heiresses available. Edmund died exactly one year later and it was Jasper who was to replace his older brother in South-Wales. There couldn’t be a man more devoted to this task than Jasper and he devoted himself completely to serving Wales as well as his weak half-brother King Henry VI. It was the early stage of the Wars of the Roses and protecting the realm against the Yorkists that likely held him back from getting married. Another possibility is that he simply did not find a suitable bride and wanted to marry a women of his own choosing. I think it was a combination of all this that made him unwilling to get married in these early years. From the usurpation of Edward IV in 1461 Jasper let a life of an adventurer, constantly travelling between England, France, Wales, Scotland, Flanders and perhaps even Ireland. Non-stop trying to find support for the cause he so believed in. The killing of his father Owen Tudor, his half-brother King Henry VI and his heir Prince Edward and not to forget his brother Edmund who probably also died at the hands of the Yorkists, likely made Jasper unwilling to get married, there simply wasn’t any time and a wife and possible children would only stand in the way and be another more possibility for Edward IV and his followers to get his hands on Jasper! From 1471 until August 1485 Jasper, with his nephew Henry Tudor, was an official exile in Brittany and France, and again this was no good circumstance to find a bride. As soon as his dear nephew Henry Tudor became king Jasper was married to the wealthy Katherine Woodville, sister to the late Edward IV’s wife Elizabeth.
If there was a television series made about Jasper’s life who would you wish to play him and why?
That’s a hard one – I have to admit I don’t see much TV at all! Eventhough I wasn’t a big fan of the White Queen series, I did like Tom McKay as Jasper. Maybe a blond Aidan Turner would do as well!
What is one thing that you would like for readers of your book to take away with them?
To understand how important Jasper was during the largest part of the 15th century and that without him there would have been no Tudor dynasty.
If you could ask Jasper Tudor just one question what would it be?
Just one!? I think that would have to be ‘ Was there ever a woman in your life that you really loved’? This remains a mystery to me.
What is the most important thing that you feel Jasper imparted upon his nephew, the future Henry VII?
Determination to survive and to become the man he eventually was, King Henry VII.
What’s next for Debra Bayani?
I have many ideas for more books but little time with yet a growing family. I love to travel a lot and visit many places with a connection to the people that took part in the Wars of the Roses. Very recently I visited several places that have a link to Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy and sister to Edward IV and Richard III, in Flanders, Belgium and also a recent holiday to the Loire Valley in France with the many castles that can be linked back to Jasper Tudor, Margaret of Anjou and Warwick ‘The Kingmaker’. I hope to continue this for a long time. I have started working on several guide books on places related to the Wars of the Roses but to include every place and possibly even travel to all this might take a long time. I tend to start with Wales, the country I love the most. I would love to write a short biography about William Herbert, Jasper’s rival. Something else I have been thinking about for awhile is to do some extended research into my own genealogy and write about different times throughout the centuries, the lives these people lived as poor workman like weavers or simple sailors to the more upper class and everything in between and how the women and children have lived, coping with childbirth and the high rate of infant mortality.
There just aren’t enough hours in a day!
I would like to thank you Sarah for taking the time and interest in my book and the honour of sending me this interview.
I would like to say a very big thank you to Debra Bayani for taking the time to participate in this interview and to share some of her thoughts on Jasper Tudor and how she went about researching her book. If you would like to learn more about Debra, Jasper Tudor or other aspects of the Wars of the Roses please follow the links: