Edmund Beaufort, 4th Duke of Somerset
d.6 May 1471 Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, England
Facts and Events
Edmund Beaufort, 4th Duke of Somerset, 6th Earl of Somerset, 3rd Marquess of Dorset, 3rd Earl of Dorset (1438? – 6 May 1471) was an English nobleman, and a military commander during the Wars of the Roses, in which he supported the House of Lancaster
He was the son of Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset and Lady Eleanor Beauchamp, and became heir to the dukedom of Somerset at the death of his elder brother Henry in 1464. However, the title was forfeited during the early part of the reign of Edward IV but briefly restored on the old monarch's restoration.
In 1470, when Queen Margaret and Warwick ('The Kingmaker') reconciled to restore her husband Henry VI, who was the first monarch ousted by the family feud, and whom due to occasional insanity she assisted in his duties, Somerset was unenthusiastic over the reconciliation and made little effort to co-operate. In fact his failure to hold London against Edward was a decisive moment, leading to the Battle of Barnet (April 1471) and the death of Warwick. Some sources say he was present at Barnet, but this is an error.
Fleeing west to seek help from Jasper Tudor towards Wales, but halted by the Yorkist army at the Battle of Tewkesbury (4 May 1471), he commanded the Lancastrian right wing, and led a fierce charge against the Yorkist left under Lord Hastings in Red Pierce Meadow. But the charge was not supported by either the Earl of Devon or Lord Wenlock, and Somerset's force was driven back with heavy losses. Somerset blamed Wenlock for the disaster, and personally killed him on the field.
After the defeat, Somerset and other Lancastrian leaders took refuge in Tewkesbury Abbey, but they were forced from sanctuary two days later. They were tried and executed immediately, at the Cross in the centre of Tewkesbury; Edmund and his younger brother John, who had fallen in the battle, were buried at the Abbey.
With the death of Edmund and John the House of Beaufort was extinct in the male line. The execution shortly thereafter of Henry VI left Edmund's cousin, Margaret Beaufort, and her son, Henry Tudor, as the senior representatives of the House of Lancaster.