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Edmund Beaufort, 4th Duke of Somerset: Wikis


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Beheading of the Duke at Tewkesbury in 1471

Edmund Beaufort, 4th Duke of Somerset (1438? – 6 May 1471) was an English nobleman and military commander during the Wars of the Roses.

He was the son of Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset and Lady Eleanor Beauchamp, and became duke at the death of his elder brother Henry in 1464. (The dukedom was somewhat theoretical, depending on how one views the legitimacy of the forfeiture of the title by the Henry, the 3rd Duke, during the reign of Edward IV, which was retracted by King Henry VII long after Somerset's death.)

During the readeption Somerset was unenthusiastic over the reconciliation of Queen Margaret and the Earls of Warwick and made little effort to co-operate. In fact his failure to hold London against Edward was a decisive moment in the campaign.

He commanded the right of the Lancastrian forces at the Battle of Tewkesbury, (4 May 1471) where he led a fierce charge against the Yorkist Lord Hastings in Red Pierce Meadow.[1] But it was not supported by either the Earl of Devon or Lord Wenlock. After the defeat Somerset and other Lancastrian leaders took refuge in Tewkesbury Abbey but they were forced from sanctuary two days later, tried and executed immediately, traditionally at the Cross in the centre of Tewkesbury.

Edmund died unmarried. His younger brother John had also been killed at Tewkesbury and the House of Beaufort in the legimate male line became extinct. . The death shortly thereafter of Henry VI, left Edmund's cousin Lady Margaret Beaufort and her son, Henry of Richmond, the future Henry VII, as the leading representatives of the House of Lancaster. Edmund and his younger brother are buried in Tewkesbury Abbey, in Gloucestershire.

Coat of arms of Beaufort, earls and dukes of Somerset

The Beaufort family in the male line is today represented by the Duke of Beaufort, a descendant of Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke of Somerset through his illegitimate son Charles Somerset.



  1. ^ Some sources say he was present at the Battle of Barnet but this is an error. See Ross, 'Edward IV' p. 167 n. 2


Pollard, A.F. (1909). "Edward Beaufort, styled Fourth Duke of Somerset". Dictionary of National Biography. 23 (supplement). pp. 156–157. 

Peerage of England
Preceded by
Henry Beaufort
(Forfeit 1464)
Duke of Somerset
Succeeded by


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