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Edmund Beaufort Somerset, 2d duke of

Somerset, Edmund Beaufort, 2d duke of, d. 1455, English statesman and general. He fought in France in the Hundred Years War, receiving his first command in 1431, recapturing Harfleur in 1440, and relieving Calais in 1442. For this last feat he was made (1442) earl of Dorset. In 1444 he succeeded his brother John as earl of Somerset. He became lieutenant of France in 1447 and was created duke of Somerset in 1448. After the war in France was resumed in 1449, Somerset's army was consistently defeated, and by 1453 all of England's French possessions except Calais had been lost. Since the murder (1450) of William de la Pole, 1st duke of Suffolk, Somerset had been the head of the court faction and was protected by Henry VI against popular resentment and the attacks of the Yorkists. He was imprisoned by Richard, duke of York, during Henry's first period of insanity (1453–55) but returned to power when the king recovered. Somerset was killed at St. Albans in the first battle of the Wars of the Roses.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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