|Died||22 May 1455 (aged ~49)|
St Albans, Hertfordshire, England
|Resting place||St Albans Abbey|
|Opponent||Richard, Duke of York|
|Parent(s)|| John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset |
|Battles/wars|| Hundred Years' War |
Wars of the Roses
|Awards||Order of the Garter|
Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset, 4th Earl of Somerset, 1st Earl of Dorset, 1st Marquess of Dorset styled 1st Count of Mortain, [lower-alpha 1] KG (1406 –22 May 1455), was an English nobleman and an important figure during the Hundred Years' War. His rivalry with Richard, Duke of York, was a leading cause of the Wars of the Roses.
Edmund Beaufort was the fourth surviving son of John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset, the eldest of the four legitimised children of John of Gaunt (1340-1399) (third surviving son of King Edward III) by his mistress Katherine Swynford. Edmund's mother was Margaret Holland, a daughter of Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent by his wife Alice FitzAlan, a daughter of Richard FitzAlan, 10th Earl of Arundel by his wife Eleanor of Lancaster, 5th daughter of Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster, a grandson of King Henry III. Edmund was thus a cousin of both Richard, Duke of York, and the Lancastrian King Henry VI. 
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 Richard Neville, 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.
In 1427 it is believed that Edmund Beaufort may have embarked on an affair with Catherine of Valois, the widow of King Henry V. Evidence is sketchy; however, the liaison prompted a parliamentary statute regulating the remarriage of queens of England. The historian G. L. Harriss surmised that it was possible that another of its consequences was Catherine's son Edmund Tudor and that Catherine, to avoid the penalties of breaking the statute of 1427–8, secretly married Owen Tudor. He wrote: "By its very nature the evidence for Edmund Tudor's parentage is less than conclusive, but such facts as can be assembled permit the agreeable possibility that Edmund 'Tudor' and Margaret Beaufort were first cousins and that the royal house of 'Tudor' sprang in fact from Beauforts on both sides." 
Edmund received the county of Mortain in Normandy on 22 April 1427.  Edmund became a commander in the English army in 1431, and in 1432 was one of the envoys to the Council of Basel.  After his recapture of Harfleur and his lifting of the Burgundian siege of Calais, he was named a Knight of the Garter in 1436. After subsequent successes he was created Earl of Dorset on 28 August 1442 (though he seems to have been styled as such since around 1438)  and Marquess of Dorset on 24 June 1443.   During the five-year truce from 1444 to 1449 he served as Lieutenant of France. On 31 March 1448 he was created Duke of Somerset.  As the title had previously been held by his brother, he is sometimes mistakenly called the second duke,  but the title was actually created for the second time, and so he was actually the first duke, the numbering starting over again.[ citation needed ]
Somerset was appointed to replace York as commander in France in 1448. Somerset was supposed to be paid £20,000; but little evidence exists that he was. Fighting began in Normandy in August 1449. Somerset's subsequent military failures left him vulnerable to criticism from York's allies.  The most humiliating moment was when Somerset surrendered Rouen, the capital of Normandy, to the French without even a token siege. He failed to repulse French attacks, and by the summer of 1450 nearly all the English possessions in northern France were lost, with Normandy having fallen after the Battle of Formigny and Siege of Caen. By 1453 all the English possessions in the south of France were also lost, and the Battle of Castillon ended the Hundred Years War.
The fall of the duke of Suffolk left Somerset the chief of the king's ministers, and the Commons in vain petitioned for his removal in January 1451.  Power rested with Somerset and he virtually monopolised it, with Margaret of Anjou, wife of Henry VI, as one of his principal allies. It was also widely suspected that Edmund had an extra-marital affair with Margaret. After giving birth to a son in October 1453, Margaret took great pains to quash rumours that Somerset might be his father. During her pregnancy, Henry had suffered a mental breakdown, leaving him in a withdrawn and unresponsive state that lasted for one and a half years. This medical condition, untreatable either by court physicians or by exorcism, plagued him throughout his life. During Henry's illness, the child was baptised Edward, Prince of Wales, with Somerset as godfather; if the King could be persuaded, he would become legal heir to the throne.
Somerset's fortunes, however, soon changed when his rival York assumed power as Lord Protector in April 1454 and imprisoned him in the Tower of London. Somerset's life was probably saved only by the King's seeming recovery late in 1454, which forced York to surrender his office. Henry agreed to recognise Edward as his heir, putting to rest concerns about a successor prompted by his known aversion to physical contact; subsequently he came to view Edward's birth as a miracle.   Somerset was honourably discharged, and restored to his office as Captain of Calais.
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 York and Warwick for his father's death, and he spent the next nine years attempting to restore his family's honour.
At sometime between 1431 and 1433 he married Eleanor Beauchamp, daughter of Richard de Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick by his first wife Elizabeth de Berkeley, daughter and heiress of Thomas de Berkeley, 5th Baron Berkeley. Eleanor was an elder half-sister of Henry de Beauchamp, 1st Duke of Warwick and Anne de Beauchamp, 16th Countess of Warwick, wife of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, known as the "Kingmaker". The marriage was without royal licence, which offence was pardoned on 7 March 1438. By his wife he had issue including:
Following the death of all their brothers without issue, fighting for the Lancastrian cause, they became co-heiresses to their father, and their descendants were thus entitled to quarter the arms of Beaufort.
|Ancestors of Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset|
John Beaufort, 1st Marquess of Somerset and 1st Marquess of Dorset, later only 1st Earl of Somerset, was an English nobleman and politician. He was the first of the four illegitimate children of John of Gaunt (1340–1399) by his mistress Katherine Swynford, whom he later married in 1396.
John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset, 3rd Earl of Somerset, KG was an English nobleman and military commander during the Hundred Years' War. He was the maternal grandfather of Henry VII.
Edmund Beaufort, styled 4th Duke of Somerset, 6th Earl of Somerset, 3rd Marquess of Dorset, 3rd Earl of Dorset, was an English nobleman, and a military commander during the Wars of the Roses, in which he supported the Lancastrian king Henry VI.
Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset, 1st Earl of Huntingdon, 7th Baron Ferrers of Groby, was an English nobleman, courtier and the eldest son of Elizabeth Woodville and her first husband Sir John Grey of Groby. Her second marriage to King Edward IV made her Queen of England, thus elevating Grey's status at court and in the realm as the stepson of the King. Through his mother's assiduous endeavours, he made two materially advantageous marriages to wealthy heiresses, the King's niece Anne Holland and Cecily Bonville, 7th Baroness Harington. By the latter, he had 14 children.
Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke of Somerset was an important Lancastrian military commander during the English Wars of the Roses. He is sometimes numbered the 2nd Duke of Somerset, because 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.
Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent was an English nobleman and a councillor of his half-brother, King Richard II of England.
Thomas Ros or Roos, 8th Baron Ros of Helmsley was an English peer.
Thomas Ros or Roos, 9th Baron Ros of Helmsley was a follower of the House of Lancaster during the Wars of the Roses.
John Clifford, 9th Baron Clifford, 9th Lord of Skipton was a Lancastrian military leader during the Wars of the Roses in England. The Clifford family was one of the most prominent families among the northern English nobility of the fifteenth century, and by the marriages of his sisters John Clifford had links to some very important families of the time, including the earls of Devon. He was orphaned at twenty years of age when his father was slain by partisans of the House of York at the first battle of the Wars of the Roses, the Battle of St Albans in 1455. It was probably as a result of his father's death there that Clifford became one of the strongest supporters of Margaret of Anjou, wife of King Henry VI, who ended up as effective leader of the Lancastrian faction.
The House of Beaufort is an English noble and quasi-royal family, which originated in the fourteenth century as the legitimated issue of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, whose eldest legitimate son was King Henry IV, the first Lancastrian king. The Beauforts played an important role during the Wars of the Roses in the fifteenth century and the eventual heiress of the family Lady Margaret Beaufort was the mother of King Henry VII, the first Tudor monarch of England.
Thomas Clifford, 8th Baron de Clifford, also 8th Lord of Skipton, was the elder son of John, 7th Baron de Clifford, and Elizabeth Percy, daughter of Henry "Hotspur" Percy and Elizabeth Mortimer.
Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Devon was a great-granddaughter of King Edward III (1327–1377).
Sir John Courtenay was the third son of Thomas Courtenay, 13th Earl of Devon, and Margaret Beaufort, and was styled Earl of Devon by Lancastrians in exile, following the execution of his brother the 14th earl in 1461.
Thomas de Courtenay, 5th/13th Earl of Devon was a nobleman from South West England. His seat was at Colcombe Castle near Colyton, and later at the principal historic family seat of Tiverton Castle, after his mother's death. The Courtenay family had historically been an important one in the region, and the dominant force in the counties of Devon and Cornwall. However, the rise in power and influence of several gentry families and other political players, in the years leading up to Thomas' accession to the earldom, threatened the traditional dominance of the earls of Devon in the area. Much of his life was spent in armed territorial struggle against his near-neighbour, Sir William Bonville of Shute, at a time when central control over the provinces was weak. This feud forms part of the breakdown in law and order in England that led to the Wars of the Roses.
John Beaufort, Marquess of Dorset, Earl of Dorset was a scion of the Beaufort family, who fought for the Lancastrians in the Wars of the Roses.
Sir John Cary , of Pleshey in Essex, was a courtier to King Henry VIII, whom he served as a Groom of the Privy Chamber, and of whom he was a third cousin, both being 4th in descent from John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset (1371-1410).
Lady Eleanor Beauchamp, Baroness de Ros and Duchess of Somerset was the second daughter of Richard de Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick and Elizabeth de Berkeley, daughter of Thomas de Berkeley, 5th Baron Berkeley.
Lady Eleanor Beaufort was the daughter of Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset (1406-1455), KG, and was a sister of the 3rd and 4th Dukes of Somerset.
Thomas Courtenay, 6th/14th Earl of Devon, was the eldest son of Thomas de Courtenay, 5th/13th Earl of Devon, by his wife Margaret Beaufort, the daughter of John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset, and Margaret Holland, daughter of Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent. Through his mother, he was a great-great-grandson of King Edward III. The ordinal number given to the early Courtenay Earls of Devon depends on whether the earldom is deemed a new creation by the letters patent granted 22 February 1334/5 or whether it is deemed a restitution of the old dignity of the de Redvers family. Authorities differ in their opinions, and thus alternative ordinal numbers exist, given here.
Sir Robert Spencer "of Spencer Combe" in the parish of Crediton, Devon, was the husband of Eleanor Beaufort (1431–1501), the daughter of Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset (1406–1455), KG, and was father to two daughters and co-heiresses who made notable marriages.