House of Beaufort

English noble family / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The House of Beaufort /ˈbfərt/[2] is an English noble and quasi-royal family, which originated in the fourteenth century as the legitimated issue of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster (the third surviving son of King Edward III), whose eldest legitimate son was King Henry IV, the first Lancastrian king. The Beauforts played an important role during the Wars of the Roses in the fifteenth century and the eventual heiress of the family Lady Margaret Beaufort was the mother of King Henry VII, the first Tudor monarch of England.

Quick facts: House of Beaufort, Parent house, Country, Fou...
House of Beaufort
Arms of Beaufort: The royal arms of King Edward III differenced by a bordure componée argent and azure (later adjusted to France modern in the reign of Henry IV). The heraldic colours argent and azure had been symbols of the Earls of Lancaster[1]
Parent houseHouse of Plantagenet (legitimated)
CountryKingdom of England
Founded1373; 650 years ago (1373)
FounderJohn Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset
Current headHenry Somerset, 12th Duke of Beaufort
  • Duke of Somerset
  • Duke of Exeter
  • Marquess of Worcester
  • Marquess of Somerset
  • Marquess of Dorset
  • Earl of Somerset
  • Earl of Dorset
  • Earl of Worcester
  • Earl of Glamorgan
  • Count of Perche, styled
  • Count of Mortain, styled
  • Count of Harcourt, styled
  • Baron Beaufort
Cadet branches

The name Beaufort refers to the estate of Montmorency-Beaufort in Champagne, France, an ancient and seemingly important possession of the House of Lancaster. It is earliest associated with Edmund Crouchback, 1st Earl of Lancaster (1245-1296) (the younger son of King Henry III) whose third son John of Lancaster (1286-1317) was called "Seigneur of Beaufort". The estate of Beaufort was eventually inherited, with other vast possessions, by John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster (third surviving son of King Edward III) following his marriage to the heiress Blanche of Lancaster.

The Beaufort family originated in the illegitimate issue of John of Gaunt by his then-mistress Katherine Swynford. Gaunt married Swynford in 1396, as his third wife, and their children were subsequently legitimated both by his nephew King Richard II and by Pope Boniface IX. There were four children: John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset (1373–1410); Cardinal Henry Beaufort, (1375–1447), Bishop of Winchester; Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter (1377–1426) and Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland (1379–1440).[3] The House of Tudor was descended from the Beauforts in the female line and all subsequent English and British monarchs are descended from the first Tudor King, Henry VII.

The House of Beaufort continues to exist in a further illegitimate line, surnamed "Somerset", the senior representative of which is Henry Somerset, 12th Duke of Beaufort, who is thus a direct male-line descendant, albeit via a legitimated and an illegitimate line, of King Henry II, the first Plantagenet King of England. The present King therefore has a far more complex biological relationship to their common ancestor. However a decree of King Henry IV in 1406 barred his legitimated half-siblings and their issue from any claim to the throne and the illegitimacy of the Somerset branch doubly bars them.