John Beaufort (1403-1444). The latter fought under Henry V. in the French wars, and having been taken prisoner remained in France as a captive until 1437. Soon after his release he returned to the war, and after the death of Richard Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, in 1439, acted as commander of the English forces, and, with his brother Edmund, was successful in recapturing Harfleur. Although chagrined when Richard, duke of York, was made regent of France, Beaufort led an expedition to France in 1442, and in 1443 was made duke of Somerset. He died, probably by his own hand, in May 1444. He married Margaret, daughter of Sir John Beauchamp, and left a daughter, Margaret Beaufort, afterwards countess of Richmond and Derby, who married, for her first husband, Edmund Tudor, earl of Richmond, by whom she became the mother of King Henry VII. In this way the blood of the Beauforts was mingled with that of the Tudors, and of all the subsequent occupants of the English throne.
The title of earl of Somerset descended on the death of John Beaufort in 1444 to his brother Edmund Beaufort, duke of Somerset (q.v.), who was killed at St Albans in 1455. By his marriage with Eleanor Beauchamp, daughter of the fifth earl of Warwick, he left three sons, Henry, Edmund and John, and a daughter, Margaret.
Henry Beaufort (1436-1464) became duke of Somerset in 1455, and soon began to take part in the struggle against Richard, duke of York, but failed to dislodge Richard’s ally, Richard Neville, earl of Warwick, from Calais. He took part in the victory of the Lancastrians at Wakefield in 1460, escaped from the carnage at Towton in 1461, and shared the attainder of Henry VI. in the same year. In May 1464 he was captured at Hexham and was beheaded immediately after the battle. The title of duke of Somerset was assumed by his brother, Edmund Beaufort (c. 1438-1471), who fled from the country after the disasters to the Lancastrian arms, but returned to England in 1471, in which year he fought at Tewkesbury, and in spite of a promise of pardon was beheaded after the battle on the 6th of May 1471. His younger brother John Beaufort had been killed probably at this battle, and so on the execution of Edmund the family became extinct.
Margaret Beaufort married Humphrey, earl of Stafford, and was the mother of Henry Stafford, duke of Buckingham. Henry Beaufort, third duke of Somerset (d. 1464), left an illegitimate son, Charles Somerset, who was created earl of Worcester by Henry VIII. in 1514. His direct descendant, Henry Somerset, fifth earl of Worcester, was a loyal partisan of Charles I. and in 1642 was created marquess of Worcester. His grandson, Henry, the third marquess, was made duke of Beaufort in 1682, and the present duke of Beaufort is his direct descendant.
See Thomas Walsingham, Historia Anglicana, edited by H. T. Riley (London, 1863-1864); W. Stubbs, Constitutional History of England, vols. ii. and iii. (Oxford, 1895); The Paston Letters, edited by James Gairdner (London, 1904).
BEAUFORT, FRANÇOIS DE VENDÔME, Duc de (1616-1669), a picturesque figure in French history of the 17th century, was the second son of César de Vendôme, and grandson of Henry IV., by Gabrielle d’Estrées. He began his career in the army and served in the first campaigns of the Thirty Years’ War, but his ambitions and unscrupulous character soon found a more congenial field in the intrigues of the court. In 1642 he joined in the conspiracy of Cinq Mars against Richelieu, and upon its failure was obliged to live in exile in England until Richelieu’s death. Returning to France, he became the centre of a group, known as the “Importants,” in which court ladies predominated, especially the duchess of Chevreuse and the duchess of Montbazon. For an instant after the king’s death, this group seemed likely to prevail, and Beaufort to be the head of the new government. But Mazarin gained the office, and Beaufort, accused of a plot to murder Mazarin, was imprisoned in Vincennes, in September 1643. He escaped on the 31st of May 1648, just in time to join the Fronde, which began in August 1648. He was then with the parlement and the princes, against Mazarin. His personal appearance, his affectation of popular manners, his quality of grandson (legitimized), of Henry IV., rendered him a favourite of the Parisians, who acclaimed him everywhere. He was known as the Roi des Halles (“king of the markets”), and popular subscriptions were opened to pay his debts. He had hopes of becoming prime minister. But among the members of the parlement and the other leaders of the Fronde, he was regarded as merely a tool. His intelligence was but mediocre, and he showed no talent during the war. Mazarin, on his return to Paris, exiled him in October 1652; and he was only allowed to return in 1654, when the cardinal had no longer any reason to fear him. Henceforth Beaufort no longer intrigued. In 1658 he was named general superintendent of navigation, or chief of the naval army, and faithfully served the king in naval wars from that on. In 1664 he directed the expedition against the pirates of Algiers. In 1669 he led the French troops defending Candia against the Turks, and was killed in a night sortie, on the I5th of June 1669. His body was brought back to France with great pomp, and official honours rendered it.
See the memoirs of the time, notably those of La Rochefoucauld, the Cardinal de Retz, and Madame de Motteville. Also D’Avenel, Richelieu et la monarchic absolue (1884); Cheruel, La France sous le ministère Mazarin (1879); and La France sous la minorité de Louis XIV (1882).
BEAUFORT, HENRY (c. 1377-1447), English cardinal and bishop of Winchester, was the second son of John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, by Catherine, wife of Sir Hugh Swynford. His parents were not married until 1396, and in 1397 King Richard II. declared the four children of this union to be legitimate. Henry spent some of his youth at Aix la-Chapelle, and having entered the church received various appointments, and was consecrated bishop of Lincoln in July 1398. When his half-brother became king as Henry IV. in 1399, Beaufort began to take a prominent place in public life; he was made chancellor in 1403, but he resigned this office in 1404, when he was translated from Lincoln to Winchester as the successor of William of Wykeham. He exercised considerable influence over the prince of Wales, afterwards King Henry V., and although he steadily supported the house of Lancaster he opposed the party led by Thomas Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury. A dispute over money left by John Beaufort, marquess of Dorset, caused or widened a breach in the royal family which reached a climax in 1411. The details are not quite clear, but it seems tolerably certain that the prince and the bishop, anxious to retain their power, sought to induce Henry IV. to abdicate in favour of his son. Angry at this request, the king dismissed his son from the council, and Beaufort appears to have shared his disgrace. When Henry V. ascended the throne in 1413 the bishop again became chancellor and took a leading part in the government until 1417, when he resigned his office, and proceeded to the council which was then sitting at Constance. His arrival had an important effect on the deliberations of this council, and the compromise which was subsequently made between the rival parties was largely his work. Grateful for Beaufort’s services, the new pope Martin V. offered him a cardinal’s hat which Henry V. refused to allow him to accept. Returning to England, he remained loyal to Henry; and after the king’s death in 1422 became a member of the council and was the chief opponent of the wild and selfish schemes of Humphrey, duke of Gloucester. In 1424 he became chancellor for the third time, and was mainly responsible for the conduct of affairs during Gloucester’s expedition to Hainaut. He was disliked by the citizens of London; and this ill-feeling was heightened when Gloucester, who was a favourite of the Londoners, returned to England and was doubtless reproached by Beaufort for the folly of his undertaking. A riot took place in London, and at the bishop’s entreaty, the protector, John, duke of Bedford, came back to England. As this dispute was still unsettled when the parliament met at Leicester in February 1426, Bedford and the lords undertook to arbitrate. Charged by Gloucester with treason against Henry IV. and his successors, Beaufort denied the accusations. But although a reconciliation was effected, the bishop evidently regarded this as a defeat; and having resigned the chancellorship his energies were diverted into another channel.
Anxious to secure his aid for the crusade against the Hussites, Pope Martin again offered him a cardinal’s hat, which Beaufort