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Somerset, Edmund Beaufort, 1st duke of

Somerset, Edmund Beaufort, 1st duke of (c.1406–55). Entitled count of Mortain from 1427, and earl of Dorset from 1438, Beaufort was frequently employed in the defence of Lancastrian France, with the backing of his uncle, Cardinal Beaufort. He succeeded to the titles of his elder brother John (d.1444), but not to his lands. To the chagrin of Richard of York, Somerset was appointed lieutenant-general of France in 1447; by 1450 all Normandy had been lost to the French. York accused him of treason, but he became the dominant favourite of Henry VI, created duke 1448 and captain of Calais in 1451. Being a grandson of John of Gaunt, Somerset may have been suspected of kingly ambitions while Henry was childless. He was prominent in the suppression of York's rising in 1452, but was himself imprisoned for trial during York's first protectorate. Having alienated the Nevilles by a territorial dispute with Warwick, Somerset gained the support of the earl of Northumberland; both were killed in the first battle of St Albans.

R. L. Storey

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