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William de la Pole

(1396—1450) administrator and magnate


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(1396–1450). Suffolk had a chequered career in the French war from 1417 to 1437. As an associate of Cardinal Beaufort, he became steward of Henry VI's household in 1432. This position enabled him to make himself the king's chief councillor after Beaufort's death, create a household faction, and monopolize royal patronage, so that he prospered while crown revenues dwindled. He was made duke in 1448. He continued Beaufort's quest for peace by negotiation. In 1444 he headed two embassies to France which arranged Henry's marriage to the dowerless Margaret of Anjou but only a short truce; its extension to 1449 had to be bought by the surrender of Maine. The failure of Suffolk's diplomacy was exploited by enemies, including the duke of Norfolk and Lord Cromwell, who had suffered by his manipulation of royal favour and legal procedures. Impeachment by Parliament led to his banishment and murder at sea.

From The Oxford Companion to British History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: British History.


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