Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke of Somerset

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Duke of Somerset
Arms of John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset.svg
Coat of arms of Beaufort


Charles, Earl of Worcester (legitimised)
Noble family House of Beaufort
Father Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset
Mother Lady Eleanor Beauchamp
Born (1436-01-26)26 January 1436
Died 15 May 1464(1464-05-15) (aged 28)

Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke of Somerset (26 January 1436 – 15 May 1464) was an important Lancastrian military commander during the English Wars of the Roses. He is sometimes numbered the 2nd Duke of Somerset, since the title was re-created for his father after his uncle died. He also held the subsidiary titles of 5th Earl of Somerset, 2nd Marquess of Dorset and 2nd Earl of Dorset.


Somerset was the son of Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset, and Lady Eleanor Beauchamp, daughter of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick. Thus he was a maternal nephew of Lady Anne Beauchamp, Countess of Warwick. He was a paternal second cousin to Lady Margaret Beaufort and Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick (the "Kingmaker"). Somerset was also an uncle to Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham.


Somerset fought at the First Battle of St Albans (1455), where he was seriously wounded and his father was killed. He was the principal Lancastrian commander at the Lancastrian victories of the Battle of Wakefield (1460) and the Second Battle of St Albans (1461), and the Lancastrian defeat at the Battle of Towton (1461), fleeing to Scotland after escaping the field at Towton.

From Scotland he travelled to France to negotiate for help, where he was imprisoned for a time and thence to Flanders and back to England via Scotland. He garrisoned several Northumberland castles. After surrendering at the end of one castle siege, he indicated his willingness to make peace with King Edward. The king needed to win over some of the Lancastrian commanders to help secure his hold on the throne, and so pardoned Somerset on 10 March 1462, restoring his forfeited lands and titles.

For the next year or so Somerset remained close to Edward, attending his court and giving him military advice. But at the end of 1463 he slipped back over to the Lancastrian side, hurried north and started raising troops. He held out in the far north of England until May 1464, when he was defeated at the Battle of Hexham. He was later captured in a barn at the site of what is now known as Dukes House, and beheaded shortly afterwards that same day. He was buried at Hexham Abbey.[1] Traditionally his helmet from the battle was kept within Hexham Abbey from which it was taken by Colonel John Fenwick for use in the English Civil War. After Fenwick's death at battle of Marston Moor the helmet was retrieved along with his skull, both were returned to the Abbey. The helmet is currently on display in Hexham Old Gaol museum.

Somerset died unmarried and left no legitimate children. He had an illegitimate son by Joan Hill, Charles Somerset (c. 1460–1526). Charles was later legitimized and created Earl of Worcester. From him descend the Earls and Marquesses of Worcester and later the Dukes of Beaufort, who are currently the last male line descendants of the Plantagenets and the Second House of the Counts of Anjou.

In 1485, some twenty-one years after his death, Somerset, 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]."[2]



  1. ^ http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk/tourism/arts-leisure/debunking-myths-about-the-real-battle-of-hexham-1.184434?referrerPath=home/2.3307
  2. ^ "Rotuli Parliamentorum A.D. 1485 1 Henry VII". 
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Edmund Beaufort
Duke of Somerset
2nd creation
Title next held by
Edmund Beaufort