Margaret was born at Pont à Mousson, Lorraine. She was the daughter of René, Duke of Anjou, King of Naples and his wife, Isabella, Duchess of Lorraine. At the age of sixteen she was married by proxy to King Henry VI of England, the ceremony taking place at the cathedral of St Martin, Tours, France. In April 1445 Margaret married Henry in person at Tichfield Abbey, Hampshire. Margaret was a very determined character. She made very little attempt to understand the ways and customs of her husband’s country. Strong minded and arrogant, it was soon evident to all that Margaret intended to rule through her weak husband. This she did with the assistance of her favourites, the Earl, later Duke, of Suffolk and the Duke of Somerset. Almost from the beginning Margaret disliked and distrusted the Duke of York. In her eyes York, as the king’s nearest relative, was a danger to her authority, even possibly wishing to replace Henry as king. There is absolutely no evidence for this, but York had at least as good a claim to the throne as Henry, and this was enough for Margaret. This antagonism was to colour all her actions throughout her time in England. Unfortunately her favourites were totally incompetent and more interested in feathering their own nests and clinging on to power than in the good of the realm.
The first hint of the queen's unpopularity came early. Margaret’s marriage had been arranged by the Earl of Suffolk. Unfortunately she brought no dowry, and indeed Suffolk had agreed to hand back to France the provinces of Anjou and Maine. Once this became common knowledge in England it caused a great outcry. Margaret’s behaviour, pride, arrogance and a complete disregard for anything but her own wishes hardly helped. Opposition to the terms of the marriage treaty was led by the king’s uncle, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, the youngest and only remaining brother of Henry V. In 1447 Humphrey was arrested and twelve days later he died. The cause was officially 'natural causes', but rumours swept the country that the duke had been put to death. With Gloucester gone York was now Margaret’s chief opponent and the enmity between them increased. In 1453, when Margaret was at last pregnant, Henry suffered his first spell of insanity. Margaret was desperate to secure the Regency for herself, but the council refused to allow this. As the king’s nearest relative York became Protector. Margaret gave birth to a son in October that year. York had ordered her to Windsor in April 1454 and it was made quite clear to her that she would no longer be allowed to interfere in the running of the country’s affairs. She was now more than ever determined to be rid of York one way or another.
Henry regained his senses on Christmas Day, 1454. Despite the fact that York had ruled well, Margaret was able to regain her influence and many of the reforms put in place during Henry’s illness were cancelled. In 1455 matters came to a head, and the first battle between Lancaster and York took place at St Albans, ending in a victory for York, and Henry was taken into the custody of the Yorkist forces. In 1456 Margaret was once more reunited with the king, and was now intent on gaining as much support as she could. Knowing that she could count on no support from the Londoners, she and Henry moved the court to Coventry. In August 1457 the Queen's popularity suffered another blow. That month the French raided the south coast, leaving Sandwich in flames. The raid was lead by Pierre de Brézé, well known to be a friend of Margaret. She attempted to blame others for the attack but such was her unpopularity that she continued to be the one held responsible. By the beginning of 1458 it was becoming increasingly obvious that hostilities would once more break out at some point. The peace-loving King Henry VI, along with the Archbishop of Canterbury, attempted to patch up a peace. Henry arranged what became known as a 'love day'. On March 24th 1458 he led both Lancastrians and Yorkists in procession to St Paul’s Cathedral, the leading pair being the Queen and York. The peace was short lived. By the autumn of 1459 both sides were gathering their forces again. The Yorkists gathered at Ludlow, and it was here that Henry’s army arrived on October 11th. When a great part of York’s force went over to Henry the Yorkist leaders were forced to flee. On October 13th the Lancastrian army entered Ludlow. The unfortunate town was made to pay dearly for its shelter of the Yorkists. The royal army went on the rampage, looting, raping and destroying, whilst Margaret made no move to alleviate the town’s misery.
York returned to England in September 1460. To Margaret’s fury he now claimed a better right to the throne than Henry. Her fury knew no bounds when it was decided that York rather than her son should become king after Henry. Margaret once more gathered a great army. This time she recruited help from the Scots and, since she had no way of paying for their services, promised them plunder once they were south of the Trent. In the meantime her commanders had tricked York out of his castle of Sandal, near Wakefield, during a truce, and in the ensuing battle the duke had been killed. Margaret ordered his head to be placed over Micklegate Bar in York, crowned with a paper crown. She now turned her attention to the remaining Yorkist leaders and led her army south. True to her word the troops were allowed to run riot. Just as after Ludlow a trail of carnage lay behind them as they moved south. After her victory over Warwick at the second battle of St Albans, Margaret demanded entry into London. London however defied the queen and refused her entry. Now thoroughly alarmed at the way her army was getting out of control, she began to retreat north. York’s son, Edward was proclaimed king after his father’s death and his own victory at the battle of Mortimer’s Cross in March that year, and his army followed Margaret north. The two armies clashed at the battle of Towton on Palm Sunday, March 29th, in a bitter snowstorm. Victory went to York.
Once again Margaret had to flee and once again she sought help in Scotland, until she and her son found refuge in France. Her exile lasted until King Louis of France persuaded her to make a common cause with the Earl of Warwick and cement their new alliance with the betrothal of Prince Edward to Warwick's daughter Anne. For quite some time Margaret held out against this, Warwick being one of her bitterest enemies, but eventually she was persuaded. Warwick was to take control of England from Edward IV before Margaret was to return. He did take back the realm. Margaret lingered in France. Eventually she was persuaded to sail for England, but she had lingered too long. The very day she landed at Weymouth, Warwick was killed in battle at Barnet. Margaret was all for a return to France, wishing at all costs to keep her son safe from harm, but in this she was opposed by her supporters, Somerset and Devon, and chiefly by her son Edward himself. There followed a mad dash for the Welsh border to join up with the forces under Jasper Tudor. The plan was doomed to failure. At Tewkesbury on May 4th, Edward of York’s army faced Margaret’s forces and once again the Yorkists had the victory. Among the dead was Margaret’s beloved son.
After the battle of Tewkesbury Margaret was taken to London, where she was lodged in the Tower, until her removal into the custody of the Duchess of Suffolk. She was ransomed eventually by Louis of France and returned to her own country where she spent the rest of her life in poverty, a broken woman. She died on August 25th 1482 and was buried in St Maurice’s Cathedral, Angers.
ARGENTINE, John, Doctor
ARGENTINE, John, Doctor
The personal doctor to Edward V and supposedly the last member of the young King’s household to have access to him. Probably implicated in the Buckingham rebellion. Afterwards fled to join Henry Tudor in exile. Argentine was the source of much of Dominic Mancini’s information in his "Usurpation of Richard III". Since Argentine was a supporter of Henry Tudor, much of his information has to be treated with extreme caution. After Henry’s accession he became one of his personal physicians, later holding the same post with Henry’s eldest son, Arthur, Prince of Wales. As pointed out in W. E. Hampton’s "Memorials of the Wars of the Roses", it is strange that, having known them so well, Argentine was never called to examine the pretenders who later claimed to be one or other of the Yorkist family. This applies especially to Perkin Warbeck, who claimed to be Richard Duke of York, whom one would have expected Argentine to know.
The daughter of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, by his second wife, Isabel Despenser, Anne was married to Richard Neville, the eldest son of Richard, Earl of Salisbury, at the age of nine. Her marriage made her the future Countess of Salisbury, but in 1449 an event occurred which was make this prospect pale into insignificance. Anne’s only brother, Henry had died in 1447, leaving only a young daughter to inherit the Warwick fortune. In 1449 the child died. This left the Warwick inheritance in an awkward position. Anne’s father had married twice. From his first marriage he had three daughters. From his second he had Anne and her brother, Henry. Since Anne was Henry’s only full sibling, it was to her the Warwick lands and fortune passed. This of course was not to the liking of her three half-sisters, or of their husbands, one of whom was her husband's uncle, Lord Abergavenny, and another the Duke of Somerset, but nevertheless in July 1449 Richard Neville became Earl of Warwick in right of his wife.
Anne gave Warwick two daughters, Isabel, born in September 1451, and Anne, born in June 1456.No sons were born of the marriage. In 1460 Anne became Countess of Salisbury as well as Warwick, after the death of Richard's father as a result of the battle of Wakefield. They now made their homes principally at Middleham and Warwick. In 1469, after Warwick took Edward IV prisoner, Anne became hostess to the king as long as he remained in Warwick’s custody. She travelled to Calais with her family for the marriage of her elder daughter to the Duke of Clarence the same year.
When Warwick was forced into exile Anne and her daughters were forced to flee with him. It fell to Anne to deliver the child her daughter Isabel gave birth to on board ship. Anne played only a minor role in the marriage arrangements of her daughter Anne, but she was in Margaret of Anjou’s train when that lady set sail for England. She travelled on a different ship from Margaret. This vessel dropped anchor at Plymouth, where Anne received news of her husband’s defeat and death at the battle of Barnet. She immediately sought sanctuary in Beaulieu Abbey. King Edward’s victory at Tewkesbury gave Anne no respite from her troubles. Her son-in-law George of Clarence was determined that she stay in sanctuary, and be treated as dead, so that he could claim both Warwick’s Yorkshire estates and the Warwick inheritance which now reverted to Anne. Not until after the marriage of her younger daughter to Richard of Gloucester did Anne emerge from Beaulieu, to travel north where she made her home with her daughter at Middleham.
The death of both her daughters, Isabel in 1476 and Anne in 1485, left Anne bereft of close family. After Richard’s defeat at the battle of Bosworth she petitioned for the return of her lands. Henry responded with the return of a small portion of the estate. He insisted however that Anne disinherit her grandchildren by leaving all her lands to him after her death. Until her death in 1490 she lived in obscurity. She was buried with her husband at Bisham Abbey.
BEAUCHAMP, Eleanor, Duchess of Somerset (1407-1466)
BEAUCHAMP, Eleanor, Duchess of Somerset (1407-1466)
Eleanor was the daughter of Richard, Earl of Warwick, by his first wife, Elizabeth Berkeley. This made her the half-sister of Anne Beauchamp, the previous entry. Eleanor married first Thomas, Lord de Roos. Thomas died in 1430, and Eleanor married again in 1431. This time her husband was Edmund Beaufort, a grandson of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, by his mistress - later his third wife - Katherine Swynford. This marriage produced ten children, who were to become like their father staunch supports to the Lancastrian cause. After the death of her half-brother and his young daughter, Eleanor was one of the sisters denied any part of the Warwick inheritance. She and her husband, along with her sisters, protested vigorously and long about this injustice (as they saw it). But to no avail. In 1455 she became a widow again after the death of her husband at the 1st battle of St Albans. She married for a third time, her husband being Walter Rokesley. In 1464 her eldest son, Henry, was executed after the battle of Hexham. Eleanor survived a further two years, dying in 1466. Hers is just one instance of the tangled loyalties between families in this period. Her own family was so closely allied to Lancaster, and that of her half- sister to the Yorkists.
BEAUFORT, Edmund, 2nd Duke of Somerset. K.G. (1405-1455)
BEAUFORT, Edmund, 2nd Duke of Somerset. K.G. (1405-1455)
Edmund’s father John Beaufort, Earl of Somerset, was the eldest of four children born to John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and his third duchess, Katherine Swynford. All four of the children had been born before their parents' marriage and were legitimized by church and state. The charter granted by the state specifically excluded the Beauforts from the line of succession to the throne, an exclusion which was endorsed by their half-brother Henry IV when he took the throne in 1399.
In 1397 John had married Margaret Holland. The marriage produced six children of whom Edmund was the third son. Edmund married Eleanor Beauchamp in 1431 and this marriage gave him ten children. His elder brother, Henry, died in 1418 and his title passed to his next brother, John. The Earldom was advanced to a Dukedom in 1443. John Beaufort died in 1444, leaving only a daughter, Margaret. In 1448 Edmund was granted the title as 2nd Duke of Somerset.
Edmund had fought in France, as did his elder brothers John and Thomas, who were taken prisoner after the battle of Beaugé in 1420. In 1431 he was present at Henry VI’s coronation banquet in Paris. In 1433 he was sent as an ambassador to Scotland. His sister, Joanna Beaufort, was Queen of Scots, being married to James I. In 1438 he was made constable of Windsor Castle for life, and in 1440 had the honour of conducting the siege and capture of Harfleur.
After King Henry’s marriage he became close to Queen Margaret of Anjou, one of the councillors on whom she depended. There was no love lost between Somerset and the Duke of York any more than between York and Margaret. After the death of the Duke of Suffolk in 1450, Somerset became the Queen’s principal adviser. So close did the two become that there were persistent rumours that Margaret of Anjou’s son Edward was Somerset’s child rather than King Henry’s. In 1448 Somerset became commander of the king’s army in France. In this role he was totally unsuccessful, a fact which increased his unpopularity at home. During the king’s first period of illness Somerset was incarcerated in the Tower of London by order of the Protector the Duke of York. Once Henry regained his senses Somerset was released and continued in his role of chief councillor to the king and queen. Needless to say, when hostilities broke out in 1455, Somerset was one of the principal supporters of the king and queen. At the 1st battle of St Albans he fought for the Lancastrians. At the close of the battle Edmund of Somerset was found dead outside the Castle Inn. He was buried in St Albans Abbey Church.BEAUFORT, Edmund, 4th Duke of Somerset (1439-1471)
The second surviving of Edmund, 2nd Duke of Somerset’s four sons, this Edmund assumed the title of fourth duke after his brother’s execution in 1464, although in fact the title was never formally bestowed upon him. Even so, it is as the Duke of Somerset that he was known from this date. Like his older brother Henry and his younger brother John, Edmund was a devoted Lancastrian. Throughout the conflict he never ceased to support the Lancastrian monarchs. He was present at the battle of Ludford Bridge in 1459. At the age of 21, in 1460, he was captured by the Yorkists and sent to Calais. Edmund was present at the battle of Towton in March 1461. In 1464 he joined Margaret of Anjou at her court in exile at Bar. It was here in 1464 that he assumed the title Duke of Somerset.
At the beginning of 1471, Somerset desperately tried to persuade Charles of Burgundy to support the readeption of Henry VI to the throne of England. Bearing in mind the danger from France if England became settled under a Lancastrian king, Charles chose to support his brother-in-law, Edward IV. Edmund returned to England at the same time as the Earl of Warwick, but did not fight at the battle of Barnet, preferring to await the arrival of his queen.
Edmund was one of the most persuasive voices begging Margaret of Anjou not to return to France after the battle of Barnet. At the battle of Tewkesbury he was in overall command of the Lancastrian force, and in personal command of his army's right wing. No one tried harder than Somerset to win the battle for Lancaster. He fought courageously throughout the day, even killing Lord Wenlock when that gentleman failed in his support for him. After the battle, Somerset was found in Tewkesbury Abbey with various other Lancastrian commanders. Tried for treason before Richard of Gloucester and the Duke of Norfolk, he was condemned and executed. He was buried in Tewkesbury Abbey.BEAUFORT, Henry, 3rd Duke of Somerset (1436-1464)
The eldest surviving of Edmund the 2nd Duke’s sons, Henry became Duke of Somerset on the death of his father at the 1st battle of St Albans, in which battle he also fought. Henry was named as Captain of Calais in 1460, but never managed to take over the post from the Earl of Warwick. He was given the commission of oyer and terminer for the counties of Somerset, Devon and Cornwall in 1460. At the battle of Wakefield Somerset commanded the victorious Lancastrian army. He was with Queen Margaret on the march south in 1461, and again commanded the Lancastrian force at the 2nd battle of St Albans. In March 1461 he was in command of the Lancastrians at Towton, after which defeat he was forced to flee into exile in Scotland.
He led an embassy to seek help from Charles VII of France in spring the same year. Unfortunately Charles' death led to Somerset's arrest by the new King, Louis XI. When he did manage to obtain an audience with Louis he was refused the aid he sought. In 1462 he surrendered to Edward IV. Edward astounded his supporters by pardoning Somerset and reinstating him. It was unfortunate that he found it impossible to settle with the Yorkist court. He found too many of Edward’s supporters unwilling to come to terms with one they saw as a Lancastrian sympathiser. In late 1463 Henry returned to his Lancastrian allegiance. Once again he commanded a Lancastrian force in the field, this time at the battle of Hedgeley Moor. Taken prisoner after the battle and being brought before John Neville, he was condemned to death and executed in Hexham. It is believed he was buried in Hexham Abbey.BEAUFORT Joan, Countess of Westmorland (1376-1440)
Joan Beaufort was the only daughter of John of Gaunt and his third duchess, Katherine Swynford. Joan had married, at fifteen, Robert, Lord Ferrers of Wemme. By this marriage she had two daughters. In 1396 she married for the second time. This marriage was to Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland. It was a marriage which was to be of some significance in the years of conflict. Joan gave Ralph thirteen children, twelve of whom lived to maturity. Her children all made excellent marriages. Only two remained unmarried: her namesake, Joan, became a nun, and Robert became Bishop of Salisbury, and then Bishop of Durham. Ralph of Westmorland left Joan all his Yorkshire lands outright on his death in 1425. This meant that his estates were split in two since he had a family by his first wife who inherited his title, and the lands and castle of Raby which went with it. Joan, of course, was determined to retain the lands, the greater part of his estate left her by her husband, and hand them on to her eldest son, causing a great deal of dissent between her children and their half siblings. Joan lived until 1440. On her death her lands did indeed pass to her eldest son, Richard of Salisbury.
As stipulated in her will Joan was buried beside her mother in Lincoln Cathedral.BEAUFORT, John, Lord (1422-1471)
Very little is known about John, the youngest of the 2nd Duke of Somerset’s sons. He may have fought at the battle of Towton in 1461. He was certainly at Margaret of Anjou’s court in exile at Bar and it is certain he returned to England in Margaret’s retinue before the battle of Tewkesbury. John was one of those killed in the battle, and was buried with his brother Edmund in Tewkesbury Abbey. None of the Beaufort brothers left legitimate issue. With them the Somerset title left the Beaufort name.
BEAUFORT Margaret, Countess of Richmond and Derby (1443-1509)
BEAUFORT Margaret, Countess of Richmond and Derby (1443-1509)
The only child of John Beaufort 1st Duke of Somerset and his wife, Margaret Beauchamp. At the age of six Margaret went through a form of marriage with John de la Pole, later second Duke of Suffolk. This was annulled in 1453. In 1455 she was married to Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond, the half-brother of Henry VI. Edmund was the eldest child of Katherine of Valois, Henry’s mother, and Owen Tudor, a gentleman of Katherine’s household. There has been speculation as to whether there was ever a marriage between the two, but certainly Henry accepted the sons born to Katherine and Owen as his brothers. Margaret was twelve years old at the time of her marriage. One year later she was a widow and seven months pregnant with what was to prove her only child. This child was born in January the following year when his mother was still only thirteen years old. Margaret called her son Henry.
While still in her teens Margaret was married for a third time, this time to Sir Henry Stafford. Her son was in the care of Sir William Herbert, but this did nothing to lessen the bond Margaret built up with him. Henry seems to have been her prime concern throughout her life, and as we shall see her ambition for him knew no bounds. When her third husband supported Edward IV in 1471, she arranged for Henry to be spirited away to Brittany, in a bid to keep him safe from the Yorkist regime. Henry Stafford died in 1471, leaving Margaret to make her final marriage in 1472. This time her husband was Thomas, Lord Stanley. Even before the marriage she had made a vow of perpetual chastity. This leads one to think the marriage may have been one of mutual and political necessity on both sides. Certainly the two were to be involved in many plots ending in the eventual elevation to the throne of Margaret’s son.
Margaret was a prominent figure at the court of Edward IV. The accession of Richard III saw a complete change in her status. At Richard’s coronation, she carried Queen Anne Neville’s train. But throughout Richard’s short reign Margaret was constantly plotting to gain the throne for her son. In 1484 there is some evidence that she and her half-brother, Lord Welles, were conspiring to obtain the release from the Tower of Edward IV’s sons. If true, it leads one to wonder what the object of this exercise was to be. Many men would have lost patience and committed her to some secure prison but Richard III, who has been portrayed down the years as a monster, did not. He made the mistake of handing her over to her husband’s control. It was a mistake he would regret.
As may be expected Margaret was deeply involved in the events leading up to the battle of Bosworth. It was the treachery of her husband and his brother Sir William Stanley that won the throne for Henry. No doubt Margaret played her part in this. Henry’s accession saw a great rise in Margaret’s status. She was now the mother of the king. Henry had formed an extremely close relationship with her. Indeed, he seemed to prefer the advice of his mother to that of his wife. Certainly Margaret had more influence over Henry than did Elizabeth of York Throughout Henry’s reign, mother and son remained close. His death in 1509 was a bitter blow for Margaret. Towards the end of her life she had cultivated a taste for piety and learning, but this was no substitute for the loss of her son who had been her whole concern from his infancy. Margaret did not long survive Henry, dying in June 1509, some nine weeks after him. She is buried in Westminster Abbey.