Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 04.djvu/52

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Beaufort
Beaufort
48

Albani, ed. Riley, Rolls Ser.; Hardyng's Chron.; Hall's Chron.; Cont. Croyland, Gale's Scriptores, i.; Raynaldus, Eccl. Annales; Æneas Sylvius, Historia Bohemica; Andrew of Ratisbon, Höfler, Geschichtschreiber der Hussitischen Bewegung, ii.; Duck's Life of H. Chichele, Abp. of Cant. 1699; Godwin de Præsulibus; Le Neve's Fasti, ed. Hardy; Wharton's Anglia Sacra, i.; Nichols's Royal Wills; Stubbs's Const. Hist. iii. c. 18; Excerpta Historica, ed. Bentley; Creighton's History of the Papacy during the Reformation]

W. H.


BEAUFORT, JOHN (1403–1444), first Duke of Somerset, military commander, was the son of John Beaufort, eldest son of John of Gaunt, by Catherine Swynford, who was created Earl of Somerset and died in 1409. John the younger succeeded to the earldom on the death of his brother Henry in 1419. He was early inured to arms, and fought at the age of seventeen with Henry V in France. In 1421 the Duke of Clarence, the king's brother, being sent against the dauphin in Anjou, advanced rashly against him with his vanguard, and being surprised as he crossed a marsh was killed, and Somerset, who was with him, was taken prisoner. Speedily ransomed, the latter continued fighting in France under Henry VI, his nearness to the throne insuring him high command. But though made duke in 1443 and captain general in Aquitaine and Normandy, the Duke of York was preferred to him as regent of France. Somerset returned home in disgust and died the next year — by his own hand it is said, being unable to brook the disgrace of banishment from court which his quarrel with the government had brought upon him.

[Dugdale's Baronage; Chronicles of Walsingham and Croyland.]

H. A. T.


BEAUFORT, MARGARET (1441–1509), Countess of Richmond and Derby, was daughter and heiress to John, first duke of Somerset, by his wife Margaret, widow of Sir Oliver St. John, and heiress to Sir J. Beauchamp of Bletso. She was only three years old at the time of her father's death; but her mother appears to have brought her up with unusual care until, in her ninth year, she was brought to court, having passed into the wardship of the Duke of Suffolk, then in the height of his power. He hoped to obtain her in marriage for his son, not without thought of her possible succession to the throne. On the other hand, Henry VI destined her for his half brother Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond. A vision inclined her to the latter suitor, and she was betrothed at once to him, and married in 1455. In the following year the Earl of Richmond died, leaving Margaret with an infant son. The breaking out of the war of the Roses endangered the safety of any related to the throne, and the child-widow retired with the future Henry VII to her brother-in-law's castle of Pembroke. Here she remained after her marriage with Henry Stafford, son of the Lancastrian Duke of Buckingham, and here she was detained in a kind of honourable confinement after the triumph of the Yorkists in 1461. The revolution of 1470 saw Margaret back at court; but the speedy return of Edward IV, and his final victory at Tewkesbury, by making the young Earl of Richmond immediate heir to the Lancastrian title, increased his danger, and forced him to escape to Brittany. Margaret remained at home, and, though keeping up communications with her exiled son, wisely effected a reconciliation with the ruling powers, and took as her third husband the Lord Stanley, Edward's trusted minister, afterwards Earl of Derby. The accession of Richard III (1483) and the consequent split in the Yorkist party raised the hopes of the Lancastrians, and Margaret, emerging from her accustomed retirement, took an active part in planning the alliance between her own party and that of the Wydviles by the marriage of Henry with Elizabeth of York, and in preparing for the abortive insurrection of 1484. Richard's parliament at once attainted Henry, and deprived Margaret of her title and lands. Further persecution she was spared, for Richard, though he did not trust, dared not alienate her husband, Lord Stanley, to whom her lands were granted for his life, and her person to be kept 'in some secret place at home, without any servants or company, so that she might not communicate with her son.' Yet Stanley's growing sympathy with her cause enabled her to aid in the preparations for the rising of 1485, and his final defection from Richard's side on Bosworth field secured the throne to her son. After this she took no part in the active duties of government, and seldom appeared at court, except for the christening of a goddaughter or the knighting of a godson; but the king deferred to her opinion, especially in matters of court etiquette, and their correspondence shows the respect he bore her, and that he never forgot that he derived his title through her, who, had there then existed a precedent for female succession, might herself have mounted the throne. Sharing to the full the religious spirit and strict orthodoxy of the Lancastrian house, a life of devotion and charity best suited her after the anxieties of her early life. 'It would fill a volume,' says Stow, 'to re-