Lady Margaret Beaufort

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Lady Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby (31 May 1443 – 29 June 1509) was the mother of King Henry VII and grandmother of King Henry VIII of England. She was a key figure in the Wars of the Roses, an influential matriarch of the House of Tudor and foundress of two Cambridge colleges. In 1509, she briefly served as regent of England for her grandson.

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Early life

Margaret was born at Bletso Castle, Bedfordshire, on 31 May 1443. The date and month are not disputed, as she required Westminster Abbey to celebrate her birthday on 31 May. The year of her birth is more uncertain. William Dugdale, the 17th century antiquary, has suggested that she may have been born two years earlier, in 1441. This suggestion is based on evidence of inquisitions taken at the death of Margaret's father. Dugdale has been followed by a number of Margaret's biographers. However, it is more likely that she was born in 1443, as in May 1443, her father had negotiated with the King about the wardship of his unborn child in case he died on a campaign.[1]

She was the daughter of John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset, and Margaret Beauchamp of Bletso. At the moment of her birth, Margaret's father was preparing to go to France and lead an important military expedition for King Henry VI. Somerset negotiated with the king to ensure that, in case of his death, the rights to Margaret's wardship and marriage would belong only to his wife. However, Somerset fell out with the king after coming back from France. He was banished from the court and was about to be charged with treason. He died shortly afterwards. According to Thomas Basin, Somerset died of illness, but the Crowland Chronicle reported that his death was suicide. Margaret, as his only child, was the heiress to his fortunes.[2]

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