Christopher Urswick, the son of John Urswick and his wife, lay brother and sister of Furness Abbey in Barrow in Furness, was born in about 1448. As a young man he lived in he had lived in Troston, Suffolk, before moving to London. Urswick was educated at Cambridge University and was ordained sub-deacon on 16th April 1468. During this period he attracted the attention of Margaret Beaufort who made him her chaplain and confessor. Later she introduced him to her son Henry Tudor. (1)
At the Battle of Tewkesbury on 4th May 1471 Margaret of Anjou was captured and her thirteen-year-old son, Edward of Westminster killed. Edward IV sent Roger Vaughan to arrest Henry Tudor and his uncle Jasper Tudor. Vaughan was captured and executed and the two men escaped to Tenby and took a ship, heading for France but landing in Brittany late in the month after a stormy voyage. Francis II, Duke of Brittany, offered them asylum but under Edward's diplomatic pressure, this turned into house arrest in a succession of castles and palaces. (2) Urswick joined Henry in France.
King Louis XI of France agreed to Edward's request to try and capture Henry. However, this ended in failure when he was given sanctury by a group of Breton noblemen in Brittany. On the death of Edward IV in 1483, his young sons, Edward and Richard, were usurped by their uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester. He proclaimed himself Richard III and imprisoned the Princes in the Tower, where, almost certainly, he had them murdered.
Henry Tudor, as the head of the House of Lancaster, now had a claim to become king. Margaret Beaufort began plotting with various other opponents of Richard, to place her son on the throne. Negotiations took place and in December 1483 he vowed to marry Elizabeth of York, the daughter of Edward IV. (3)
The regents of the young King Charles VIII saw the advantage of supporting Henry Tudor against Richard III and provided him with money, ships, and men to seek the crown. In August 1485, Henry arrived in Wales with 2,000 of his supporters. This included Christopher Urswick. Henry also brought with him over 1,800 mercenaries recruited from French prisons. While in Wales, Henry also persuaded many skillful longbowmen to join him in his fight against Richard. By the time Henry Tudor reached England the size of his army had grown to 5,000 men. (4)
After the Battle of Bosworth Henry Tudor was crowned Henry VII. Urswick was rewarded with the prebend of St Stephen's and later to the influential position of king's clerk and almoner. He was subsequently granted other benefices, offices, and prebends. (5) Urswick was also involved with Roderigo de Puebla in the negotiating the Treaty of Medina del Campo that was signed on 27th March 1489. It established a common policy towards France, reduced tariffs between the two countries and agreed a marriage contract between Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon and also established a dowry for Catherine of 200,000 crowns. (6)
Urswick represented Henry VII in Rome in 1493 and met with Emperor Maximilian I in 1496. Later that year he was appointed Dean of Windsor. Urswick was with Henry when he was poor health in the early months of 1509. He later told of how an astrologer claimed that the king would die before the end of the year. So the king sent for this man... The king gravely asked him whether any future events could be foretold by the stars; "Yes, Sir." "Come then," says the king, "tell me where you are to be in the Christmas holidays that are now coming." The man faltered at first, and then plainly confessed he could not tell where. "Oh!" says the king, "I am a better astrologer than you. I can tell where you will be - in the Tower of London." (7)
Christopher Urswick died on 21st March 1522.
Urswick was ordained subdeacon on 16 April 1468 and on 23 May 1472 priest, in York. He was in Rome on 16 March 1480, and may have stayed there or elsewhere in Italy until 25 January 1481. Perhaps through the Stanley connection he had attracted the attention of Lady Margaret Beaufort (d. 1509), who became his patron for the remainder of her life; she presented him in 1482 to his first living - Puttenham, Huntingdonshire - and made him her chaplain and confessor. Margaret apparently involved Urswick in the negotiations between herself and John Morton, then bishop of Ely, designed to lead to the marriage of her son, the future Henry VII.
Henry had been for some time in a declining state of health, and this encouraged an astrologer to foretell his death, and that it would happen before the end of the year... So the king sent for this man... The king gravely asked him whether any future events could be foretold by the stars; "Yes, Sir." "Come then," says the king, "tell me where you are to be in the Christmas holidays that are now coming." The man faltered at first, and then plainly confessed he could not tell where. "Oh!" says the king, "I am a better astrologer than you. I can tell where you will be - in the Tower of London."