Thomas Beaufort, 1st Duke of Exeter

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Thomas Beaufort, 1st Duke of Exeter
Bornc. January 1377
Château de Beaufort, Anjou, France
Died31 December 1426
Greenwich Manor, Kent, England
Bury St Edmunds Abbey, Suffolk, England
AllegianceRoyal Arms of England.png Kingdom of England
Service/branchFlag Kingdom of England.gif Navy of England
Years of service1390–1407
RankHigh Admiral of England
Commands heldConstable of Ludlow
Captain of Calais
Lieutenant of Aquitaine
Captain of Harfleur
Lieutenant of Normandy
Northern Fleet
Northern and Western Fleet
Navy Royal

Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter KG (c. January 1377 – 31 December 1426) was an English nobleman, politician and military commander during the Hundred Years' War. He went on serve as Admiral of the North and West, (1398–1399), Admiral of the North, (1403–1404), and High Admiral of England, Ireland and Aquitaine (1408–1426).[1] Additionally he was briefly Chancellor of England (1410–1412)


After the accession of his half-brother Henry IV of England, Beaufort was made a Knight of the Garter. In the following years he held various military posts: Constable of Ludlow (1402), appointed Admiral of the North (1403–1404), appointed Captain of Calais (1407), and Admiral of the North and West (1408-1413) he retained that title for life. His most notable action during this decade was commanding the forces against the northern rebellion of 1405. He became Chancellor of England on 31 January 1410, an office he held until 5 January 1412[2] during a time when King Henry was having trouble with the clergy, and then returned to military matters. Later in 1412 he was created Earl of Dorset. [3] In 1407 he was appointed Admiral of the Fleet under King Henry IV of England.

On the accession of Henry V of England, Beaufort was appointed High Admiral of England, Ireland and Aquitaine (1408–1426), Lieutenant of Aquitaine (1413) and then Captain of Harfleur (1415). He spent the next years in Normandy as Lieutenant of Normandy (1416). He was created Duke of Exeter for life in 1416. Beaufort was back in England in 1417, while the king was in Normandy, but had to deal with problems in Scotland. In 1418 he went back to Normandy with a large force, taking part in the sieges of Évreux, Ivry, and Rouen. After the fall of Rouen in 1419, he was captain of the city and conquered more of the smaller Norman cities. Finally, in 1419, he took the great fortress of Château Gaillard, midway between Rouen and Paris, after a six-month siege.

During this time, Henry V had a policy of creating Norman titles for his aristocrats, thus Beaufort was created Count of Harcourt in 1418. In 1420, Beaufort helped negotiate the Treaty of Troyes. The next year he was captured at the Battle of Baugé, where his nephew Thomas of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Clarence, was killed. Beaufort was one of the executors of Henry V's will, and so returned to England in 1422. He served on the governing council for the infant king Henry VI, though it is likely he spent some time in France as well. He died on 31 December 1426. have been suggested as alternative dates.

Family and Marriage

He was the third of the four children born to John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and his mistress Katherine Swynford. To overcome their problematic parentage, his parents were married in 1396, and he and his siblings were legitimated on two separate occasions, in 1390 and again in 1397. He married the daughter of Sir Thomas Neville (died 1387) of Hornby, Margaret Neville (born c. 1384),[5] who bore him one son, Henry Beaufort. However, the child died young.


  1. Schomberg. R.N., Captain, Isaac (1802). "Appendix". Naval Chronology: Or, An Historical Summary of Naval & Maritime Events, from the Time of the Romans, to the Treaty of Peace, 1802. London, England: T. Egerton. pp. 187–189.
  2. Powicke, F.; Fryde, E.B. (1961). Handbook of British Chronology (2nd ed.). London: Royal Historical Society. p. 85.
  3. ; 8th entry, plaintiff ; 1413