Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter
|The Duke of Exeter|
Coat of arms of Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter
Château de Beaufort, Anjou
|Died||31 December 1426 (aged c. 49)|
|Spouse(s)||Margaret Neville of Hornby|
|Father||John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster|
|Occupation||Lord Chancellor; Lord High Admiral|
Thomas Beaufort, 1st Duke of Exeter, KG (c. 1377 – c. 31 December 1426) was an English military commander during the Hundred Years' War, and briefly Chancellor of England. He was the third of the four children born to John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and his mistress Katherine Swynford. To overcome their problematic parentage, his parents were married in 1396, and he and his siblings were legitimated on two separate occasions, in 1390 and again in 1397. He married the daughter of Sir Robert Neville (d. 1413) of Hornby, Margaret Neville, who bore him one son, Henry Beaufort. However, the child died young.
Under Henry IV
After the accession of his half-brother Henry IV, Beaufort was made a Knight of the Garter. In the following years he held various military posts: constable of Ludlow (1402), admiral of the fleet for the northern parts (1403), captain of Calais (1407), and admiral of the northern and western seas for life (1408/9). His most notable action during this decade was commanding the forces against the northern rebellion of 1405.
He became Chancellor of England on 31 January 1410, an office he held until 5 January 1412 during a time when King Henry was having trouble with the clergy, and then returned to military matters. Later in 1412 he was created Earl of Dorset.
Under Henry V
On the accession of Henry V, Beaufort was appointed Lieutenant of Aquitaine (1413) and then captain of Harfleur (1415). He spent the next years in Normandy as Lieutenant of Normandy (1416). He was created Duke of Exeter for life in 1416.
Beaufort was back in England in 1417, while the king was in Normandy, but had to deal with problems in Scotland. In 1418 he went back to Normandy with a large force, taking part in the sieges of Evreux, Ivry, and Rouen. After the fall of Rouen in 1419, he was captain of the city and conquered more of the smaller Norman cities. Finally, in 1419, he took the great fortress of Chateau-Gaillard, midway between Rouen and Paris, after a six-month siege.
During this time, Henry V had a policy of creating Norman titles for his aristocrats, thus Beaufort was created Count of Harcourt in 1418.
Beaufort was one of the executors of Henry V's will, and so returned to England in 1422. He served on the governing council for the infant king Henry VI, though it is likely he spent some time in France as well.
As a legitimated grandson of the sovereign, Beaufort bore the arms of the kingdom, differenced by a bordure gobony azure and ermine.
- Powicke Handbook of British Chronology p. 85
- Marks of Cadency in the British Royal Family
- Powicke, F. Maurice and E. B. Fryde Handbook of British Chronology 2nd. ed. London:Royal Historical Society 1961
|Lord High Admiral
The Duke of Bedford
|Peerage of England|
|New creation||Earl of Dorset
|Duke of Exeter