Friday, 8 June 2018

A Plague on Their Houses

I'm currently well into the 2nd book of Philippa Gregory's series, The Counsins' War, which covers the Wars of the Roses, a period in our history that fascinates me.

The war was fought between the Houses of Lancaster and York - the Duchy of Lancaster being the personal possession of the Monarch since 1399 and the Duchy of York being a cadet branch of the Plantagenets. 

The strange thing about the Duchy of York is that, while usually conferred on the 2nd son of the Monarch, it has never continued beyond two generations due to the holder dying without male heirs or becoming king himself ( happened 6 times) and has had to be created 8 times in total. Prince Andrew, the current Duke of York, seems to be following the tradition of not being able to pass it on to male heirs.

One tends to think of duchies as being based in the county denoted by their name, which is far from the truth. If you look at the map of the Duchy of Lancaster, it's scattered all over the place.

Our local duke, the Duke of Beaufort, is the only duke to have his duchy take its name from outside the British Isles. It's amusing to realise that the Dukes of Somerset are Beauforts, while the Dukes of Beaufort are Somersets, the duchy of Beaufort having been created for a legitimised son of a Duke of Somerset in 1682.

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