Edmund Beaufort, 4th Duke of Somerset

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Edmund Beaufort
Duke of Somerset
Beheading duke somerset.jpg
Execution of the Duke 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, 4th Duke of Somerset, 6th Earl of Somerset, 3rd Marquess of Dorset, 3rd Earl of Dorset (1438? – 6 May 1471) was an English nobleman, and a military commander during the Wars of the Roses, in which he supported the House of Lancaster.


He was the son of Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset and Lady Eleanor Beauchamp, and became heir to the dukedom of Somerset at the death of his elder brother Henry in 1464. However, the title was forfeited during the early part of the reign of Edward IV but briefly restored on the old monarch's restoration.[1]

In 1470, when Queen Margaret and Warwick ('The Kingmaker') reconciled to restore her husband 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.[2]

Fleeing west to seek help from Jasper Tudor towards Wales, but halted by the Yorkist army at the Battle of Tewkesbury (4 May 1471), he commanded the Lancastrian right wing, and led a fierce charge against the Yorkist left under Lord Hastings in Red Pierce Meadow. But the charge was not supported by either the Earl of Devon or Lord Wenlock, and Somerset's force was driven back with heavy losses. Somerset blamed Wenlock for the disaster, and personally killed him on the field.[3]

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; Edmund and his younger brother John, who had fallen in the battle, were buried at the Abbey.

Coat of arms of Beaufort, earls and dukes of Somerset

With the death of Edmund and John, the House of Beaufort was extinct in the male line. [1] 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.



  1. ^ a b Pollard 1901.
  2. ^ Ross, Edward IV, p. 167 n. 2
  3. ^ Scheduled Ancient Monument - Tewkesbury site of the battle English Heritage. "Details from listed building database (1000039)". National Heritage List for England. 


Peerage of England
Title last held by
Henry Beaufort
Duke of Somerset