Edmund Beaufort (died 1471)

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Edmund Beaufort
Duke of Somerset
Beheading duke somerset.jpg
Execution of the duke of Somerset at Tewkesbury in 1471
Noble family Beaufort
Father Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset
Mother Lady Eleanor Beauchamp
Born 1438 (?)
6 May 1471 (aged 32–33)
Died Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, England
Buried Tewkesbury Abbey

Edmund Beaufort (1438? – 6 May 1471), styled 4th Duke of Somerset by Lancastrians, was an English nobleman, and a military commander during the Wars of the Roses, in which he supported the House of Lancaster.[lower-alpha 1]


Coat of arms of Beaufort, earls and dukes of Somerset

Edmund Beaufort, born about 1438, was the son of Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset, and Eleanor, daughter of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick and widow of Thomas, fourteenth baron Roos of Hamlake.[5]

After the defeat of the Lancastrians in 1461, Edmund was brought up in France with his younger brother John Beaufort, Marquess of Dorset, and on the execution of his elder brother Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke of Somerset, Edmund is said to have succeeded as 4th Duke by Lancastrians in February 1471, but his brother's attainder was never reversed, and his titles remained forfeit. In a proclamation dated 27 April 1471 Edmund is spoken of as "Edmund Beaufort, calling himself duke of Somerset".[5]

On 4 May 1471 Beaufort returned from France when Edward IV was driven from the throne[5] after Warwick's defection and alliance with Queen Margaret and the restoration of Henry VI, who was the first monarch ousted by the family feud, and whom due to occasional insanity she assisted in his duties, Somerset was unenthusiastic over the reconciliation and made little effort to co-operate. In fact his failure to hold London against Edward was a decisive moment, leading to the Battle of Barnet (April 1471) and the death of Warwick. Some sources say he was present at Barnet, but this is an error.[6]

Fleeing west to seek help from Jasper Tudor towards Wales, but halted by the Yorkist army at the Battle of Tewkesbury (4 May 1471),[7] he commanded the van of the Lancastrian army at the battle of Tewkesbury, His position was almost unassailable,[8][9] but, for some unknown reason, after the battle began he moved down from the heights and attacked Edward IV's right flank. He was assailed by both the king and Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and was soon put to flight, his conduct having practically decided the battle in favour of the Yorkists.[10]

After the defeat, Somerset and other Lancastrian leaders took refuge in Tewkesbury Abbey, but they were forced from sanctuary two days later. They were tried and executed immediately, at the Cross in the centre of Tewkesbury,[11] on Monday 6 May 1471.[5] He was buried on the south side of Tewkesbury Abbey, under an arch.[12] His younger brother John had been killed during the battle, and as both died unmarried, "the house of Beaufort and all the honours to which they were entitled became extinct".[5]

The execution shortly thereafter of Henry VI left Edmund's aunt, Margaret Beaufort, and her son, Henry Tudor, as the senior representatives of the House of Lancaster.[13]



  1. The 3rd Duke of Somerset was attainted by Parliament on 4 November 1461, and most of his lands had been granted to King Edward IV's brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and other Yorkists.[1] 3rd Duke received a general pardon on 10 March 1463,[2] but after his execution Parliament annulled the act restoring him to his dignities, which again became forfeit and were not restored.[3] So although Edmund Beaufort was styled by supporters of the House of Lancaster as 4th Duke of Somerset by act of Parliament he had not legitimate right to use the title. In 1485, some twenty-one years after the death of the 3rd Duke, the 3rd Duke, along with Jasper Tudor, had all acts of attainder against him annulled in the first Parliament of Henry VII, "for their true and faithfull Allegeaunces and Services doune to the said blessed King Herrie [VI]."[4]
  1. Pollard 1901a, p. 157 cites Cal. Patent Rolls, 1461-5, pp. 29, 32; Stubbs, iii. 196.
  2. Pollard 1901, p. 157 cites Cal. Patent Rolls. 1461-5, p. 261.
  3. Pollard 1901, p. 157.
  4. "Rotuli Parliamentorum A.D. 1485 1 Henry VII".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Pollard 1901, p. 156.
  6. Ross, Edward IV, p. 167 n. 2
  7. Ross, C.D., Edward IV, Trowbridge 1975, p. 171
  8. Pollard 1901, p. 156 see plan in Ramsay, ii. 379.
  9. Scheduled Ancient Monument - Tewkesbury site of the battle Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1000039)". National Heritage List for England.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Pollard 1901, p. 156 cites Arrivall of Edward IV, Camden Soc. pp. 29-30; Warkworth, p. 18; Hall, p. 300.
  11. Ross, C.D., Edward IV, Trowbridge 1975, p. 172
  12. Pollard 1901, p. 156 cites Dyde, Hist. and Antiq, of Tewkesbury, pp. 21-2.
  13. Ross, C.D., Edward IV, Trowbridge 1975, pp. 172-3


  •  Pollard, Albert Frederick (1901a). [https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikisource.org%2Fwiki%2FBeaufort%2C_Henry_%281436-1464%29_%28DNB01%29 "Beaufort, Henry (1436-1464)" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). In Sidney Lee (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement​. I. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 157–158.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link) CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainPollard, Albert Frederick (1901). [https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikisource.org%2Fwiki%2FBeaufort%2C_Edmund_%281438%3F-1471%29_%28DNB01%29 "Beaufort, Edmund (1438?-1471)" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). In Sidney Lee (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement​. I. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 156.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link) CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Endnotes:
    • Arrivall of Edward IV and Warkworth's Chron. (Camden Soc.)
    • Hall's Chronicle
    • Polydore Vergil
    • Cal. Patent Polls
    • Stubbs's Const. Hist. iii. 208, 210
    • Ramsay's Lancaster and York, ii. 380-2
    • Doyle's Official Baronage
    • G. E. Cokayne's Complete Peerage
    • Notes and Queries, 4th ser. xii. 29, 276.
Peerage of England
Title last held by
Henry Beaufort
Duke of Somerset