Fonds SJLM - The Records of Lady Margaret Beaufort

Identity area

Reference code

SJLM

Unique identifier

GB 1859 SJLM

Title

The Records of Lady Margaret Beaufort

Date(s)

  • 1335-1529 (Creation)

Level of description

Fonds

Extent and medium

9 sub-fonds, paper & parchment

Context area

Name of creator

(1443-1509)

Biographical history

Lady Margaret Beaufort was mother to King Henry VII of England and foundress of St. John’s College. Born on 31st May 1443 at Bletsoe Castle in Bedfordshire, she was the daughter of Margaret Beauchamp of Bletsoe and John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset, and a descendant of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster. Margaret’s first marriage to John de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, took place c.1450, although this marriage was never recognised by Margaret herself and was dissolved in 1453. Her second marriage to Edmund Tudor, half-brother of King Henry VI of England, took place on 1st November 1455, when Margaret was twelve years of age. Soon after, Margaret fell pregnant with Edmund’s child. In November 1456, she was widowed when Edmund, fighting on the Lancastrian side of the Wars of the Roses, was captured by Yorkist forces and died in captivity at Carmarthen. A few months later, Margaret gave birth to her only son, the future Henry VII of England, at Pembroke Castle in Wales, where she was protected by her brother-in-law, Jasper Tudor.

In 1458, Margaret married Sir Henry Stafford, the son of Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham. While the couple bore no children, Margaret enjoyed a long and close relationship with her husband until his death in 1471. Margaret’s fourth and final marriage to Thomas Stanley, the Lord High Constable and King of Mann, took place in June 1472.

After the success of her son, Henry, in securing the crown at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, Margaret benefited significantly from her newfound authority as the King’s mother and wielded considerable power within the royal court. She was highly influential and a wealthy landowner and patron, generously donating money for the foundation of schools and colleges, including God’s House, Cambridge, which was refounded in 1505 as Christ’s College, and St. John’s College, founded in 1511 after her death with money from her estate. The Lady Margaret Professorship in Divinity, held respectively at Oxford and Cambridge universities, was established in her name in 1502.

Margaret died on 29th June 1509 and was buried in the Henry VII Chapel at Westminster Abbey, in a tomb created by the Florentine sculptor, Pietro Torrigiano. She remains a central figure in the history of the early Tudor dynasty and in the foundation of St. John’s College.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

As the foundress of St. John's College, many of Lady Margaret Beaufort's household accounts and personal papers were left to the College.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Records and household accounts of Lady Margaret Beaufort the College’s foundress, and mother of King Henry VII.

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  • English
  • Latin

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