The Institute is named after Lady Margaret Beaufort (1443-1509), who has been described by the historian Dr David Starkey as the most powerful woman in England of her day.
Margaret Beaufort was a scholar, an astute manager of resources and a very significant philanthropist. As the richest woman in medieval England, she used her wealth to promote religion, learning and the education of clergy in particular.
She was mother to Henry Tudor, her only son from three marriages. He became King Henry VlI, and in 1485 she assumed the title of the King’s Mother.
Cambridge became the focus of much of her philanthropy through her confessor St John Fisher, who was Chancellor of the University. Working with Fisher she founded two Cambridge colleges, Christ’s and St John’s, and endowed the Lady Margaret’s Professorships of Divinity at Oxford and Cambridge, to which she appointed her friend and confessor.
Margaret herself translated and published one of the most widely read devotional texts of all time, the Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. She was a sponsor of the printer Caxton and was, therefore, a major supporter of the new media of her day.
Further information about Lady Margaret Beaufort
Jones, M & Underwood, M. The King’s Mother, CUP 1992