Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter
|Duke of Exeter
Earl of Dorset
Coat of arms of Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter
|Born||c. January 1377
Château de Beaufort, Anjou, France
31 December 1426 (aged c. 49)|
Greenwich manor, Kent, England
|Buried||Bury St Edmunds Abbey, Suffolk, England|
|Spouse(s)||Margaret Neville of Hornby|
|Father||John of Gaunt|
Lord High Admiral
Admiral of the North and West
Admiral of the North
Captain of Calais
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), appointed Admiral of the North (1403), appointed captain of Calais (1407), and Admiral of the North and West (1408-1413) he retained the title for life. 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.
He died probably on 31 December 1426. 27 December 1426, 1 January 1427, or sometime in 1427 have been suggested as alternative dates.
As a legitimated grandson of the sovereign, Beaufort bore the arms of the kingdom, differenced by a bordure gobony azure and ermine.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Beaufort". Encyclopædia Britannica. 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Powicke, F. Maurice and E. B. Fryde Handbook of British Chronology 2nd. ed. London:Royal Historical Society 1961
- Round, J.H. (1885). "Beaufort, Thomas". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography. 4. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
31 January 1410 – 5 January 1412
|Lord High Admiral
1413 – 26 July 1426
The Duke of Bedford
|Peerage of England|
|New creation||Earl of Dorset
5 July 1411/12 – 1426
|Duke of Exeter
18 November 1416 – 1426
|New creation||Count of Harcourt
1 July 1418 – 1426