Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset

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For the 4th Duke of Somerset, see Edmund Beaufort, 4th Duke of Somerset.
The Duke of Somerset
Beaufort Arms (France modern).svg
Arms of Beaufort, Earls and Dukes of Somerset: The Royal Arms of England within a bordure compony argent and azure
Duke of Somerset
Successor Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke
Earl of Somerset
Predecessor John Beaufort, 1st Duke, 3rd Earl
Successor Henry Beaufort, 5th Earl
Spouse Eleanor Beauchamp
Issue Eleanor Beaufort, Countess Ormonde
Dame Elizabeth FitzLewis
Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke of Somerset
Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Stafford,
Edmund Beaufort, 4th Duke
Dame Anne Paston
John Beaufort, Marquess of Dorset
Joan, Baroness St Lawrence
Thomas Beaufort
House House of Beaufort
Father John Beaufort, 1st Earl
Mother Margaret Holland
Born 1406
Died 22 May 1455(1455-05-22) (aged 48/9)
First Battle of St Albans

Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset, KG (1406 – 22 May 1455), sometimes styled 1st Duke of Somerset, was an English nobleman and an important figure in the Wars of the Roses and in the Hundred Years' War. He also succeeded in the title of 4th Earl of Somerset and was created 1st Earl of Dorset and 1st Marquess of Dorset (previously held by his father and later forfeited), and Count of Mortain. He was known for his deadly rivalry with Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York.


Edmund Beaufort was the third surviving son of John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset, and Margaret Holland. His paternal grandparents were John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and Katherine Swynford. His maternal grandparents were Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent and Alice FitzAlan. Alice was a daughter of Richard FitzAlan, 10th Earl of Arundel and Eleanor of Lancaster.

Although he was the head of one of the greatest families in England, his inheritance was worth only 300 pounds. By contrast his rival, Richard, Duke of York, had a net worth of 5,800 pounds. His cousin King Henry VI's efforts to compensate Somerset with offices worth 3,000 pounds only served to offend many of the nobles and as his quarrel with York grew more personal, the dynastic situation got worse. Another quarrel with the Earl of Warwick over the lordships of Glamorgan and Morgannwg may have forced the leader of the younger Nevilles into York's camp.

His brothers were taken captive at the Battle of Baugé in 1421, but Edmund was too young at the time to fight. He acquired much military experience while his brothers were prisoners. He became a commander in the English army in 1431. After his re-capture of Harfleur, and lifting the Burgundian Siege of Calais (1436), he was named a Knight of the Garter in 1436. After subsequent successes he was created Earl of Dorset (1442) and the next year Marquess of Dorset. During the five-year truce from 1444 to 1449 he served as Lieutenant of France. In March 1448 he was created Duke of Somerset. As the title had previously been held by his brother, he is usually called the second duke.

Somerset was appointed to replace York as commander in France in 1448. Fighting began in Normandy in August 1449. Somerset's subsequent military failures left him vulnerable to criticism from York's allies. Somerset was supposed to be paid £20,000; but little evidence exists that he was. He failed to repulse French attacks, and by the summer of 1450 nearly all the English possessions in northern France were lost. By 1453, all the English possessions in the south of France were lost as well, and the Battle of Castillon ended the Hundred Years War.

Power had rested with Somerset from 1451 and was virtually monopolized by him until the King went insane and York was named Lord Protector. York imprisoned Somerset in the Tower of London, and his life was probably saved only by the King's seeming recovery late in 1454, which forced York to surrender his office.

By now York was determined to depose Somerset by one means or another, and in May 1455 he raised an army. He confronted Somerset and the King in an engagement known as the First Battle of St Albans which marked the beginning of the Wars of the Roses. Somerset was killed in a last wild charge from the house where he had been sheltering. His son, Henry, never forgave Warwick and York for his father's death, and he spent the next nine years attempting to restore his family's honour.


Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset married before 1436 [probably, abt 1425], Eleanor, daughter of Richard de Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick and his first wife, Elizabeth, (daughter and heiress of Thomas de Berkeley, 5th Baron Berkeley), and the widow of Thomas de Ros, 9th Baron de Ros. Eleanor was an older half-sister of Henry de Beauchamp, 1st Duke of Warwick and Anne Neville, 16th Countess of Warwick.

Their unlicensed marriage was later pardoned on 7 March 1438, and they had the following children:



  1. ^ a b c d e f Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy (London, U.K.: The Bodley Head, 1999), page 106.
  2. ^ a b c d Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy (London, U.K.: The Bodley Head, 1999), page 105.
  3. ^ Davis 1971, p. lvii.
  4. ^ The Lineage and Ancestry of H.R.H. Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, by Gerald Paget, Vol. I, p. 23.
  5. ^ a b c d Brown 2004.
  6. ^ Weir 2008, p. 232.
  7. ^ a b Weir 2008, p. 92.
  8. ^ a b c Weir 2008, p. 93.
  9. ^ Marshall 2003, p. 50.
  10. ^ Weir 2007, p. 6.
  11. ^ a b c Weir 2008, p. 125.
  12. ^ a b Browning 1898, p. 288.
  13. ^ a b Weir 2008, pp. 94–95.
  14. ^ Weir 2008, pp. 94, 125.
  15. ^ a b Weir 2008, pp. 97, 104.
  16. ^ a b c Weir 2008, p. 77.


Further reading[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
The Duke of York
Justice in Eyre
south of the Trent

Possibly vacant
Peerage of England
New creation Duke of Somerset
2nd creation
Succeeded by
Henry Beaufort
Marquess of Dorset
2nd creation
Preceded by
John Beaufort
Earl of Somerset
2nd creation
New creation Earl of Dorset
3rd creation