Duke of Somerset’s lodgings in London attacked, December 1450

The Duke of Somerset’s lodgings in Blackfriars were set upon by supporters of York and Norfolk on 1 or 2 December 1450. 1450 had proven to be a politically difficult year. It had begun with a series of rebellions in the South East, ruthlessly put down by the King and his men. From there, Richard 3rd Duke of York had emerged as the leader of the ‘loyal opposition‘. He argued that the nation’s financial state and military defeats were due to poor decision-making, that lawlessness was rife and that some of the Kings key advisors, including the Duke of Somerset, were corrupt. It resulted in the Duke of York entering London brandishing his sword, in November 1450, and was a clash of wills that would lead to the standoff at Dartford in 1452 and the First Battle of St. Albans in 1455.

Accusations against the Duke of Somerset

These were serious charges by the Yorkist faction, primarily as each of the areas that they claimed was corrupt or poorly managed was managed by senior nobles of the Court Party faction. Chief among these nobles was Edmund Beaufort 2nd Duke of Somerset. He was a Queen’s favourite, had the Kings ear, had been Lieutenant of France and was involved in financial decision making on a much larger scale following the murders of the Duke of Suffolk and Adam Moleyns earlier in the year.

Attack on the Duke of Somerset

The animosity between the Dukes was well known, and their followers were fiercely loyal. It led to an assault on the Duke of Somerset on 1 or 2 December 1450:

“When Parliament met in November [1450], the Duke of York cam with considerable numbers of knights and other armed men, as did the Duke of Norfolk. When these lords had been in London about a fortnight, their servants attacked the Duke of Somerset as he, with a few men but no fear of violence, dined at Blackfriars. Then, embarrassed by these occurrences, the lords left, nothing having been achieved in Parliament…”

Note: Most sources say the 1st, but some suggest 2nd December.

What happened next?

The immediate event was a large procession with accompanying opportunities to court favour and influence decisions. The Duke of Somerset was being kept in the Tower of London when that took place, just two days later.

Image of Edmund Beaufort 2nd Duke of Somerset. Sourced from his biography on Luminarium.


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