Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter

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Thomas Beaufort
Duke of Exeter
Earl of Dorset
Arms of Thomas Beaufort, 1st Duke of Exeter.svg
Coat of arms of Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter
Born c. January 1377
Château de Beaufort, Anjou, France
Died c. (1426-12-31)31 December 1426 (aged c. 49)
Greenwich manor, Kent, England
Buried Bury St Edmunds Abbey, Suffolk, England
Family Beaufort
Spouse(s) Margaret Neville of Hornby
Father John of Gaunt
Mother Katherine Swynford
Occupation Lord Chancellor
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[1] 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.

In 1420, Beaufort helped negotiate the treaty of Troyes. The next year he was captured at the Battle of Baugé, where his nephew Thomas of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Clarence, was killed.

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.

The character of Exeter in Shakespeare's play Henry V is based on Beaufort, although Beaufort was not actually created Duke of Exeter until after the Battle of Agincourt.

He died probably on 31 December 1426. 27 December 1426, 1 January 1427,[2] or sometime in 1427 have been suggested as alternative dates.

Arms

As a legitimated grandson of the sovereign, Beaufort bore the arms of the kingdom, differenced by a bordure gobony azure and ermine.[3]

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ Powicke Handbook of British Chronology p. 85
  2. ^ Round 1885, p. 50.
  3. ^ Marks of Cadency in the British Royal Family
  4. ^ Chisholm 1911.

References

Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Arundel
Lord Chancellor
31 January 1410 – 5 January 1412
Succeeded by
Thomas Arundel
Preceded by
Unknown
Lord High Admiral
1413 – 26 July 1426
Succeeded by
The Duke of Bedford
Peerage of England
New creation Earl of Dorset
5 July 1411/12 – 1426
Extinct
Duke of Exeter
18 November 1416 – 1426
French nobility
New creation Count of Harcourt
1 July 1418 – 1426
Extinct
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