A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Fortescue, Sir John

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Fortescue, Sir John (1394?-1476?). -- Political writer, was descended from a Devonshire family. He was an eminent lawyer, and held the office of Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench (1442). During the Wars of the Roses he was a staunch Lancastrian. On the triumph of Edward IV. at Towton he was attainted, and followed the fortunes of the fallen Lancastrians, accompanying Queen Margaret to Scotland and Flanders. He fought at Tewkesbury, was captured, but pardoned on condition of writing in support page 144of the Yorkish claims, which he did, considering that his own party appeared to be hopelessly ruined. He is said to have been at one time Lord Chancellor; but it is probable that this was only a titular appointment given him by the exiled family. His works are various defences of the Lancastrian title to the crown, and two treatises, De Laudibus Legum Angliæ (1537) (in praise of the laws of England), and On the Governance of the Kingdom of England, not printed till 1714, the former for the instruction of Edward, Prince of Wales.