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New Medieval Books: The Beauforts

The Beauforts: Lineage, Ambition and Obligation, 1373-1510

By John Brunton

Amberley Publishing
ISBN: 978 1 3981 0182 5

A look into an important English family during the fifteenth century. As the children of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford, the Beauforts were major allies to the Lancastrian kings and played a key role in the politics and wars of the period.


For three sons and a daughter of John of Gaunt by his mistress Katherine Swynford, prospects were at first limited – illegitimacy was one of the worst social disadvantages. Once they were declared legitimate in retrospect, however, the four Beaufort children instantly gained respectability and senior rank. When their half-brother became king in 1399, the Beauforts – now two peers, a countess and a senior ecclesiastic – were propelled to the centre of royal affairs as servants of the Lancastrian monarchy. The Beauforts were earls and dukes, wives and mothers of all the greater nobles of England, and one even became Queen of Scotland. The most senior at any time was Earl (later Duke) of Somerset. They led armies into battle, defendant towns and castles in French wars, went on crusade, and remained loyal to three Lancastrian kings for better or worse.


Who is this book for?

Those interested in the politics of 15th-century England and the Wars of the Roses will find this book a good read detailing history as seen from an important family. The author argues that the Beauforts should be portrayed in a more sympathetic light than other histories present them as.

The author

John Brunton is an English historian and the author of two other books, including Rogues, Rebels and Mavericks of the Middle Ages.


You can learn more about this book from the publisher’s website.

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