George Villiers, 1er duc de Buckingham

George Villiers, 1er duc de Buckingham


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George Villiers, le deuxième fils de Sir George Villiers, est né à Brooksby, Leicestershire, le 28 août 1592. Villiers n'était pas un érudit naturel, "mais excellait dans des compétences telles que la danse, l'escrime et l'équitation, et puisque celles-ci étaient combinées avec une beauté exceptionnelle et un charme de manière, il était bien équipé pour la vie de courtisan". (1)

En 1611, Villiers rencontre Sir John Graham, un gentilhomme de la Chambre privée, qui lui sert de mentor et de promoteur. Il a fait en sorte que Villiers soit présenté au roi Jacques Ier qui a immédiatement pris goût à Villiers. Tout au long de son règne, il s'est associé à de jeunes hommes attirants et, selon Maurice Ashley, il avait développé des sentiments homosexuels dans sa jeunesse. (2)

Bien qu'il ait épousé Anne de Danemark en 1589 et qu'elle ait donné naissance à Henry (1594) et Charles (1600), le roi Jacques a passé peu de temps avec sa femme et « a refusé de vivre au même endroit qu'une femme plus qu'il ne pouvait l'aider. . et peu de temps après son avènement, la reine fut établie à Denmark House, l'accompagnant rarement dans ses progrès continuels. (3)

Comme Jenny Wormald l'a souligné : « Il y a presque le danger d'oublier que, même si l'activité homosexuelle par opposition au sentiment homoérotique est attribuée au roi, à tout le moins, James était bisexuel et a réussi, là où ses trois prédécesseurs avaient échoué. , en fournissant des héritiers au trône, ce qui, après le demi-siècle précédent, est venu comme un soulagement bienvenu". (4)

L'un de ses courtisans, Anthony Weldon, affirme que James avait plusieurs « amoureux masculins » et qu'il était coupable d'avoir exprimé ses sentiments en public : monde, a incité beaucoup à imaginer certaines choses faites dans la maison de retraite qui dépassent mes expressions tout autant que mon expérience." (5)

James a trouvé Villiers extrêmement attrayant et a été considéré comme « beau comme un léopard de chasse ». (6) L'évêque Godfrey Goodman a commenté que Villiers était « l'homme le plus beau de toute l'Angleterre ; ses membres si bien compactés, et sa conversation si agréable et d'un caractère si doux ». (7)

Au moment où il a rencontré Villiers, le roi était amoureux de Robert Carr. Il devient le favori du roi à l'âge de 20 ans et l'année suivante devient palefrenier de la chambre. Le roi, a-t-il été rapporté, « pincerait la joue de Carr en public, lisserait ses vêtements et le regarderait avec adoration, même en parlant aux autres ». Au cours des huit années suivantes, Carr accumula régulièrement les récompenses matérielles de l'engouement royal et reçut de grands domaines dans toute l'Angleterre. (8)

En 1613, Carr commença à faire des plans pour épouser Frances Howard, la fille de l'amiral Thomas Howard, le fils de Thomas Howard, 4e duc de Norfolk. La famille Howard exerçait une influence croissante sur le roi James. Cela comprenait Henry Howard, 1er comte de Northampton, Thomas Howard, comte d'Arundel et Charles Howard, seigneur d'Effingham. Ils étaient tous sympathiques à l'église catholique romaine et voulaient une alliance avec le roi Philippe III d'Espagne. Selon John Philipps Kenyon, l'auteur de Les Stuart (1958): "Ils (les Howard) ont exhorté James à marier son fils à la fille de Philippe III d'Espagne et à utiliser son énorme dot pour payer ses dettes, dans le but ultime de réconcilier l'église anglaise avec Rome." (9)

Sir Thomas Overbury s'était farouchement opposé au mariage car il s'inquiétait de l'influence croissante de la famille Howard. Il a fait connaître ses sentiments à James. Il a rejeté ses plaintes et lui a offert un poste d'ambassadeur, ce qui l'aurait obligé à vivre à l'étranger. Lorsqu'il refusa de prendre le poste, il fut arrêté le 21 avril 1613 et conduit à la Tour de Londres. Overbury a menacé, dans une lettre écrite à Carr, qu'il divulguerait des informations sur la vie passée de Francis Howard. Overbury mourut le 15 septembre 1613. Dix jours plus tard, Carr épousa Howard. (dix)

En 1614, il nomma Carr Lord Chamberlain et lui accorda le titre de comte de Somerset. Mais il manifeste aussi son amour pour Villiers en lui confiant la fonction d'échanson royal et en 1615 est fait chevalier et devient gentilhomme de chambre. Il a également reçu une pension annuelle de 1 000 £. Carr s'est plaint de son nouveau rival. James a répondu en écrivant une lettre indiquant clairement qu'il ne voulait pas abandonner son amour pour Villiers. Il a réprimandé Carr pour ses "étranges courants d'inquiétude, de passion, de fureur et d'orgueil insolent" et pour "s'être retiré du mensonge dans ma chambre, malgré mes centaines de fois où j'ai sincèrement demandé le contraire". (11)

En août 1615, Villiers et James occupèrent le même lit au château de Farnham, où le roi était en marche. Roger Lockyer soutient que cela ne prouve pas en soi que les deux hommes avaient une relation homosexuelle : « Partager un lit n'était pas rare au début du XVIIe siècle et n'impliquait pas nécessairement une intimité physique. Pourtant, tout indiquait que la relation entre les roi et Villiers étaient entrés dans une nouvelle phase, et que les jours de la faveur de Somerset étaient comptés." (12)

L'auteur du Les Stuart (1958) précise : « À vingt-deux ans, George Villiers avait cette attirance masculine un peu trop mûre qui frémit à la limite de la féminité : grand et bien proportionné, il avait un visage en forme de cœur encadré de cheveux châtain foncé. et une barbe courte, une bouche aux courbes exquises et les yeux bleu foncé du très sexué... Son intelligence, alors qu'elle existait à un faible niveau, existait sans aucun doute... Le flirt enfantin de Buckingham lui a permis de croiser James en toute impunité. " (13)

Villiers a également obtenu le soutien de Sir Francis Bacon, Lord Chancelier du roi. Il craignait également l'influence croissante de la famille Howard et encouragea James à ordonner une enquête sur la mort de Thomas Overbury. Finalement, Robert Carr et sa femme, Frances Carr, ont comparu devant le tribunal pour faire face à l'accusation de meurtre. Frances a fait une confession complète mais Robert a affirmé qu'il n'avait rien à voir avec la mort d'Overbury. Le tribunal ne l'a pas cru et le couple a été condamné à mort. James a refusé de permettre à son amant d'être exécuté et ils ont tous deux été emprisonnés dans la Tour de Londres. (14)

Villiers était bien placé pour profiter de la destitution de Robert Carr. En janvier 1616, Jacques le rend maître du cheval et le 27 août, il le crée vicomte de Villiers et lui donne des terres de la couronne d'une valeur de 30 000 £. Il est également devenu greffier en chef pour l'enregistrement des plaidoyers à la cour du banc du roi, d'une valeur d'environ 4000 £ par an. Le 6 janvier 1617, il est élevé au titre de comte de Buckingham et, le mois suivant, il devient membre du Conseil privé. Le roi ne cachait pas ses sentiments pour sa favorite. (15)

En septembre 1617, le roi défend son amitié avec Buckingham : « Je ne suis ni Dieu ni un ange, mais un homme comme les autres. C'est pourquoi j'agis en homme, et j'avoue aimer ceux qui me sont chers plus que les autres hommes. sûr que j'aime le comte de Buckingham plus que quiconque, et plus que vous qui êtes ici assemblé. donc je ne peux pas être blâmé. Christ avait son Jean, et j'ai mon George. (16)

James était profondément amoureux de Buckingham qui l'appelait "Steenie" (une référence à St. Stephen qui dans la Bible décrit comme ayant le "visage d'un ange"). Selon John Philipps Kenyon, il l'appelait aussi son « chéri », son « doux enfant et épouse ». À une occasion, alors que Buckingham était en vacances, James lui écrivit pour lui demander de revenir : « Mon seul et doux enfant. moi à l'aise et heureux avec toi cette nuit." (17)

James était sympathique à l'église catholique romaine et est arrivé à la conclusion que son fils, Charles devrait épouser Maria Anna, la plus jeune fille du roi Philippe III d'Espagne. Buckingham a soutenu cette politique, mais le Parlement anglais s'y est opposé et, en 1621, il a demandé l'application des lois sur la récusation, une campagne navale contre l'Espagne et un mariage protestant pour le prince de Galles. (18)

Francis Bacon, le lord chancelier, a mené la campagne contre le mariage proposé et, avec d'autres députés, a suggéré que Charles soit marié à une princesse protestante. James a insisté pour que la Chambre des communes s'occupe exclusivement des affaires intérieures et ne devrait pas être impliquée dans la prise de décisions concernant la politique étrangère. (19)

Les partisans du roi ont répondu en accusant Bacon de pots-de-vin et de corruption et il a été destitué devant la Chambre des Lords. Depuis le quinzième siècle, un grand officier de la couronne n'avait pas été renversé au Parlement. (20) Bacon a été condamné à une amende de 40 000 £ et à « une peine d'emprisonnement au bon plaisir du roi ». Il a également été exclu de tout poste ou emploi dans l'État et interdit de siéger au parlement ou de se trouver à la limite (12 miles) du tribunal. L'amende n'a jamais été perçue et son emprisonnement dans la Tour de Londres n'a duré que trois jours. (21)

James a refusé d'accepter la défaite et il s'est arrangé pour que Charles reçoive des cours d'espagnol et les derniers pas de danse continentale. En février 1623, Charles voyagea incognito avec le duc de Buckingham, à Madrid, pour rencontrer des membres de la famille royale espagnole. Il a été décrit comme étant « devenu un bon gentleman », mais il a également été observé qu'il n'avait pas l'air distingué et qu'il ne mesurait que cinq pieds quatre pouces. (22) Au cours de cette période, Charles a été fortement influencé par les idées politiques de Buckingham. (23)

John Morrill a souligné: "La décision de Charles d'entreprendre une cour personnelle comme moyen de sortir de l'impasse diplomatique était une indication de sa confiance en soi croissante. Il agissait maintenant couramment en tant qu'agent politique, rencontrant des conseillers privés, des ambassadeurs étrangers , et le duc de Buckingham, parfois sous les instructions de son père, parfois indépendamment. La décision de se rendre en Espagne et de mener des négociations face à face pour conclure son mariage a été une étape supplémentaire dans sa maturation. (24)

Les négociateurs espagnols ont exigé que Charles se convertisse au catholicisme romain comme condition du match. Ils ont également insisté sur la tolérance des catholiques en Angleterre et l'abrogation des lois pénales. Après le mariage, Maria Anna devrait rester en Espagne jusqu'à ce que l'Angleterre se conforme à tous les termes du traité. Charles savait que le Parlement n'accepterait jamais cet accord et il retourna en Angleterre sans épouse. (25)

Il était maintenant décidé de changer de politique étrangère et James a maintenant ouvert des pourparlers sur la possibilité d'une alliance avec Louis XIII de France qui impliquait le mariage de Charles à Henriette Maria, la sœur du roi. C'était sans précédent pour une princesse catholique d'être mariée à un protestant. Le pape Urbain VIII n'a donné sa permission que lorsqu'il a été assuré que le traité incluait « des engagements concernant les droits religieux de la reine, de ses enfants et de sa maison ; tandis que dans un document secret séparé, Charles a promis de suspendre l'application des lois pénales contre les catholiques ». (26)

En février 1624, le duc de Buckingham réussit à persuader la plupart des députés de la nouvelle politique anti-espagnole et à négocier un traité avec la France. Cependant, il n'a pas été expliqué au Parlement que le mariage proposé impliquerait une tolérance accrue pour les catholiques romains. (27)

Ces négociations ont entraîné une perte de confiance du Parlement dans le roi Jacques. Ils ne lui faisaient plus confiance et il dut faire plusieurs concessions. Cela comprenait une loi sur les monopoles, qui interdisait l'octroi royal de monopoles à des particuliers. James a également accepté de travailler en étroite collaboration avec le Parlement pour faire face à la crise économique que le pays connaissait à l'époque. (28)

Jacques Ier mourut le 27 mars 1625. Buckingham devint alors le conseiller le plus important du nouveau roi. Charles a épousé Henrietta Maria, quinze ans, par procuration à la porte de l'église Notre-Dame le 1er mai. Charles l'a rencontrée à Douvres le 13 juin et a été décrite comme étant petite et petite et "un peu petite pour son âge". (29) Une autre source a déclaré qu'elle était "une adolescente dégingandée, des yeux énormes, des poignets osseux, des dents saillantes et une silhouette minimale". (30) Caroline M. Hibbard fournit une image plus positive en faisant valoir qu'elle avait "des cheveux bruns et des yeux noirs et une combinaison de douceur et d'esprit remarquée par presque tous les observateurs". (31)

De nombreux membres de la Chambre des communes s'opposaient au mariage du roi avec un catholique romain, craignant que cela ne sape l'établissement officiel de l'Église d'Angleterre réformée. Les puritains furent particulièrement mécontents lorsqu'ils apprirent que le roi avait promis qu'Henrietta Maria serait autorisée à pratiquer sa religion librement et aurait la responsabilité de l'éducation de leurs enfants jusqu'à ce qu'ils atteignent l'âge de 13 ans. Lorsque le roi fut couronné le 2 Février 1626 à l'abbaye de Westminster, sa femme n'est pas à ses côtés car elle refuse de participer à une cérémonie religieuse protestante. (32)

A cette époque, le roi Louis XIII était impliqué dans une guerre civile contre les protestants (huguenots) en France. Le Parlement voulait aider les huguenots mais Charles refusa car il ne voulait pas contrarier sa femme ou son beau-frère. Finalement, il a été convenu d'envoyer une flotte de huit navires en France. Cependant, au dernier moment, Charles envoya l'ordre que les hommes se battent pour, plutôt que contre, Louis XIII. Les capitaines et équipages refusèrent d'accepter ces ordres et se battirent contre les Français. (33)

Charles était prêt à déclarer la guerre à l'Espagne. Plutôt que de s'impliquer directement dans la guerre terrestre européenne, le Parlement anglais a préféré une attaque navale relativement peu coûteuse contre les colonies espagnoles du Nouveau Monde, espérant la capture des flottes au trésor espagnoles et n'a accordé qu'une subvention de 140 000 £, ce qui était une somme insuffisante. pour les plans de guerre de Charles. (34)

Charles a été déçu par cette décision et il a donc convoqué un autre Parlement. Cette fois, le duc de Buckingham a prononcé un long discours dans lequel « il a défendu sa politique, les a assurés de son engagement dans la guerre, y compris un assaut naval contre l'Espagne, et leur a donné des détails sur les obligations financières du roi ». Cependant, ils ont souligné que le pays ne pouvait pas se permettre plus d'impôts en période de récession économique. Charles a répondu en dissolvant le Parlement. (35)

À l'été 1627, Buckingham tenta d'aider ses nouveaux alliés huguenots assiégés à La Rochelle en France. Le 12 juillet, une force anglaise de 100 navires et 6 000 soldats arrive à Sablanceau. Une force française de 1 200 fantassins et 200 cavaliers commandés par le marquis de Toiras, gouverneur de l'île, résiste au débarquement par derrière les dunes, mais la tête de pont anglaise est maintenue. Le siège se poursuivit jusqu'en octobre, au cours duquel il perdit plus de 4 000 hommes sur une force de 7 000 hommes. (36)

Sir John Eliot, principal critique de Buckingham à la Chambre des communes, a lancé une procédure de destitution contre le principal conseiller du roi. En mai 1626, Charles nomma Buckingham chancelier de l'université de Cambridge en signe de soutien et fit arrêter Eliot à la porte de la Chambre. Son emprisonnement a suscité de nombreuses protestations et le roi a été contraint d'ordonner la libération d'Eliot. Cependant, Charles a refusé de révoquer Buckingham et a plutôt dissous le Parlement. (37)

Bien que le roi ait continué à protéger Buckingham, il était détesté par le public et le 23 août 1628, il a été poignardé à mort au Greyhound Pub à Portsmouth. L'assassin était John Felton, un officier de l'armée qui avait été blessé lors de l'aventure militaire précédente et croyait avoir été ignoré pour une promotion par Buckingham. Cependant, il a clairement indiqué que son acte était basé sur sa croyance en la Chambre des communes et qu'en « tuant le duc, il devrait rendre un grand service à son pays ». (38)

À vingt-deux ans, George Villiers avait cette attirance masculine un peu trop mûre qui frémit à la limite de la féminité : grand et magnifiquement proportionné, il avait un visage en forme de cœur encadré de cheveux châtain foncé et une barbe courte, une exquise- bouche courbée, et les yeux bleu foncé du très sexué...

Son intelligence, alors qu'elle existait à un faible niveau, existait sans aucun doute... Le flirt enfantin de Buckingham lui a permis de traverser James avec impunité, émergeant plutôt avec une influence renforcée; ses lettres bouillonnent d'un charme insensé et d'un bavardage d'amoureux, mais il y a une impertinence même dans son adieu invariable.

Moi, Jacques, je ne suis ni Dieu ni ange, mais un homme comme les autres. Christ avait son Jean et j'ai mon George.

Tactiques militaires dans la guerre civile (Réponse Commentaire)

Les femmes dans la guerre civile (Réponse Commentaire)

Portraits d'Oliver Cromwell (Réponse Commentaire)

(1) Roger Lockyer, George Villiers, 1er duc de Buckingham : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(2) Maurice Ashley, La vie des rois et reines d'Angleterre (1975) page 182

(3) John Philipps Kenyon, Les Stuart (1958) page 41

(4) Jenny Wormald, King James I : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(5) Antoine Weldon, La cour et le caractère du roi Jacques Ier (1650)

(6) Diane Purkiss, La guerre civile anglaise : une histoire populaire (2007) page 15

(7) Pauline Gregg, le roi Charles (1984) page 49

(8) Alastair Bellany, Robert Carr, comte de Somerset : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(9) John Philipps Kenyon, Les Stuart (1958) page 47

(10) Jean Considine, Thomas Overbury : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(11) Peter Ackroyd, La guerre civile (2014) page 45

(12) Roger Lockyer, George Villiers, 1er duc de Buckingham : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(13) John Philipps Kenyon, Les Stuart (1958) page 50

(14) Peter Ackroyd, La guerre civile (2014) page 46

(15) Roger Lockyer, George Villiers, 1er duc de Buckingham : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(16) Le roi Jacques Ier, discours à la réunion du Conseil privé (septembre 1617)

(17) John Philipps Kenyon, Les Stuart (1958) page 50

(18) Christophe Hibbert, Charles Ier (1968) pages 49-50

(19) Richard Cust, Charles Ier : une vie politique (2005) page 8

(20) Roger Lockyer, Tudor et Stuart Bretagne (1985) page 225

(21) Markku Peltonen, Francis Bacon : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(22) Maurice Ashley, La vie des rois et reines d'Angleterre (1975) page 187

(23) Richard Ollard, Clarendon et ses amis (1988) page 24

(24) John Morrill, Le roi Charles Ier : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(25) Pauline Gregg, le roi Charles Ier (1981) pages 85-87

(26) Caroline M. Hibbard, Henrietta Maria : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(27) John Philipps Kenyon, Les Stuart (1958) page 60

(28) Barry Lâche, L'âge Stuart : Angleterre 1603-1714 (1980) page 158

(29) John Morrill, Le roi Charles Ier : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(30) John Philipps Kenyon, Les Stuart (1958) page 63

(31) Caroline M. Hibbard, Henrietta Maria : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(32) Charles Carlton, Charles Ier : le monarque personnel (1995) page 76

(33) Gérald Howat, Politique étrangère de Stuart et de Cromwell (1974) page 35

(34) Pauline Gregg, le roi Charles Ier (1981) page 129

(35) Roger Lockyer, Tudor et Stuart Bretagne (1985) page 233

(36) Marc Charles Fissel, Guerre et gouvernement en Grande-Bretagne, 1598-1650 (1991) pages 123-125

(37) Charles Carlton, Charles Ier : le monarque personnel (1995) pages 149-151

(38) Roger Lockyer, Tudor et Stuart Bretagne (1985) page 238


La publication en janvier de cette année de The House of Lords, 1604-1629 représente l'aboutissement de dix années d'écriture et de recherche par une équipe dévouée de quatre chercheurs dirigée par le Dr Andrew Thrush. Composé de deux volumes de biographies de plus de 1 600 000 mots et d'une enquête d'introduction distincte, ce dernier ajout à la série Histoire du Parlement complète et améliore l'ensemble de six volumes sur la première Chambre des communes Stuart et ses membres publiés en 2010 .

Au cœur des derniers volumes de l'Histoire du Parlement se trouvent les biographies de 277 pairs qui avaient le droit de siéger à la Chambre des Lords entre 1604 et 1629. (Encore neuf biographies de pairs incapables de siéger avant 1629 et décédés avant un autre Parlement réuni, en 1640, figurent en deux annexes.)

La plus grande place est naturellement consacrée aux personnalités politiques de l'époque, dont Robert Cecil, 1er comte de Salisbury, qui tenta en vain de résoudre les problèmes financiers de la couronne avec l'aide du Parlement George Villiers, 1er duc de Buckingham, le parvenu dont la domination de la politique anglaise en tant que favori et ministre en chef de deux rois successifs a enragé les membres de l'"ancienne noblesse" et a conduit à sa destitution en 1626 George Abbot, archevêque de Cantorbéry, qui a aidé Buckingham dans son ascension au pouvoir et a vécu pour le regretter et Thomas Howard, 21e comte d'Arundel, l'un des principaux membres de l'"ancienne noblesse" qui s'est d'abord compté parmi les principaux alliés de Buckingham. Beaucoup de nouveautés se retrouveront dans ces études individuelles. Par exemple, dans la longue entrée sur le prince Charles – le futur Charles Ier – qui a siégé dans les Lords en tant que prince de Galles en 1621 et 1624, il est affirmé que le célèbre bégaiement de Charles n'était pas le résultat d'un traumatisme psychologique mais d'une langue élargie, un condition connue sous le nom de macroglossie, qui rendait difficile la prise de parole en public.

Les volumes de la biographie ne sont pas exclusivement peuplés de personnalités imposantes comme Charles et Buckingham, ou Salisbury et Arundel, mais comprennent également de nombreux pairs laïcs qui, pour des raisons de pauvreté ou d'importance politique mineure, ont échappé à l'inclusion dans le Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: des hommes comme le pair du Hampshire, William, 3e Lord Sandys et le noble anglo-irlandais, George Tuchet, 11e Lord Audley et 1er comte de Castlehaven.

Cependant, ces petits alevins sont traités aussi complètement que leurs frères plus illustres. À côté de la carrière de chaque homme à la Chambre des Lords (en supposant qu'il y ait siégé, bien sûr), les lecteurs trouveront des détails sur sa carrière politique, ses affaires financières, ses convictions religieuses, ses intérêts culturels, son caractère général et ses relations sexuelles. mœurs. En effet, ces volumes sont richement colorés dans leurs détails. Nous apprenons, par exemple, que Buckingham est revenu d'Espagne en 1623 avec la gonorrhée et que son jeune frère Christopher Villiers, 1er comte d'Anglesey, était un ivrogne lubrique que Basil Feilding, Lord Newnham Paddockes, était un anti-calviniste dans sa jeunesse plutôt que le calviniste convaincu que nous avions tous pensé et qu'Henry Clinton, 2e comte de Lincoln, était d'un tempérament si violent que Jacques Ier était d'avis qu'il était gouverné par l'influence de la pègre. Nous découvrons également que William Paulet, 4e marquis de Winchester était réputé si faible que lors de sa nuit de noces, il ne savait manifestement "pas par quelle fin commencer" que Thomas, 4e Lord Cromwell, avait un faible pour les filles des boutiques de Dublin et que Henry, 7e Lord Berkeley était tellement dominé par sa femme que son propre intendant lui a conféré le surnom de « Henry the Harmless ». Les historiens non parlementaires trouveront dans ces volumes autant d'intérêt que les spécialistes parlementaires.

Une monographie de 400 pages sur la Chambre des Lords elle-même complète les deux volumes de biographies. Divisé en six grands chapitres, il considère les Lords sous un angle plus large qu'Elizabeth Read Foster dans son étude de 1983 sur la Chambre haute. Alors que Foster s'est appuyé presque exclusivement sur les sources parlementaires, cette nouvelle étude regarde au-delà du Parlement pour examiner les développements dans les Lords. Plusieurs conclusions clés émergent. L'un des plus importants est que les seigneurs ont connu une sorte de renaissance au cours des années 1620. Avant cette date, la Chambre était de plus en plus éclipsée par les Communes, dont les membres seuls contrôlaient les cordons de la bourse parlementaire.

Cependant, à partir de 1621, une nouvelle vie est insufflée aux seigneurs. Cela était dû en partie à la renaissance soudaine des pouvoirs judiciaires longtemps oubliés des Lords, notamment le pouvoir de mener des procès en destitution, qui plaçait la Chambre au centre de la scène et suscitait l'envie des Communes. Cependant, cela était également attribuable aux craintes de la noblesse que ses privilèges soient sapés. Dirigés par le comte d'Arundel, les seigneurs ont établi leur tout premier comité des privilèges, se transformant ainsi en une sorte de syndicat pour la noblesse. Un autre facteur dans le renouveau de la fortune des Lords fut la croissance du factionnalisme, qui s'étendit au Parlement. Avant les années 1620, les seigneurs considéraient que leur rôle principal était de défendre les intérêts du roi. L'essor de Buckingham et la vente de titres aristocratiques ont tout changé. Cela a conduit à l'émergence de ce que l'on pourrait appeler une politique d'« opposition » dans les Lords. Dans l'esprit populaire, de nombreux membres de la Chambre haute, comme les comtes d'Essex et Warwick, et le vicomte Saye et Sele, en vinrent à être considérés non pas comme des inféodés à la couronne mais comme des champions du bien commun. À la fin des années 1620, personne n'aurait pu prédire que vingt ans plus tard la Chambre haute, comme la monarchie, serait abolie.

La Chambre des Lords 1604-29 est désormais disponible à l'achat via Cambridge University Press. Cliquez ici pour plus d'informations.


George Villiers, 1er duc de Buckingham

En 1614, Villiers, alors dit être « l'homme le plus beau d'Angleterre », [1] a été présenté au roi Jacques, qui a rapidement développé une forte affection pour lui, l'appelant son « enfant et épouse doux ». Il était initialement soutenu par ceux qui s'opposaient au favori actuel du roi, Robert Carr comte de Somerset. Au cours des années suivantes, il devint rapidement chevalier, baron, vicomte, comte, marquis et enfin duc.

La restauration d'Apethorpe Hall, dans le Northamptonshire, en 2004-2008 a révélé un passage jusqu'alors inconnu reliant la chambre à coucher de Villiers à celle de James. [2]

Villiers a joué un rôle de premier plan dans de nombreux événements politiques et militaires du règne de Jacques, dont beaucoup ont très mal tourné, et il est devenu très impopulaire. Selon certains témoignages, il est devenu l'amant d'Anne d'Autriche, reine de France (dont le mari, Louis XIII, aurait été homosexuel).

Après la mort de James en 1625, Villiers est resté en faveur du fils de James, Charles I, mais il a été assassiné à Portsmouth en 1628.


Aujourd'hui est le premier d'un trio de blogs à célébrer Mois de l'histoire LGBT+. Paul M. Hunneyball, rédacteur en chef adjoint du Chambre des Lords 1604-1629 projet, démarre avec une suite à son blog du dernier LGBTHM, ‘James I et ses favoris : sexe et pouvoir à la cour jacobéenne’. Dans ce nouveau blog, il explore l'évolution de la position du duc de Buckingham à la cour dans les années 1610 et 1620, et les subtilités de sa relation avec James Ier.

George Villiers, 1er duc de Buckingham, est probablement mieux connu aujourd'hui pour sa liaison de dix ans avec James I. Cependant, en termes historiques, il est également remarquable pour être le principal favori de la cour de deux monarques successifs, James et son fils Charles I, un exploit sans précédent en Europe à cette époque. Quand on considère la nature très différente de ses relations avec les deux rois, l'exploit de Buckingham semble d'autant plus remarquable. Il a d'abord pris de l'importance parce que l'homosexuel James l'a trouvé attirant physiquement et émotionnellement, et cela est resté la considération vitale qui a soutenu leur liaison. Charles, contrairement à son père, partageait les préjugés homophobes conventionnels de son époque, désapprouvait les badinages gays de James et avait d'abord une aversion intense pour Buckingham. Le rôle que le duc assuma finalement avec lui fut celui de confident, conseiller indispensable et premier ministre. Le Charles émotionnellement réservé a développé une affection profonde et inébranlable pour le duc, mais leur amitié était fermement de caractère platonique. Le fait que Buckingham ait pu effectuer cette transition avec autant de succès soulève des questions intéressantes sur la vraie nature de sa relation avec James.

À la cour jacobéenne, les factions rivales cherchaient ouvertement de l'influence auprès du roi en promouvant de beaux jeunes hommes qu'elles espéraient gagner sa faveur. Buckingham lui-même a commencé sa carrière à la cour en tant que client de George Abbot, archevêque de Cantorbéry et de William Herbert, 3e comte de Pembroke, qui a exploité ses charmes pour déplacer le précédent favori royal, Robert Carr, comte de Somerset. Le jeune Villiers, qui serait venu au tribunal à la recherche d'un mariage avantageux, a pris ses nouvelles fonctions avec aplomb. Selon Godfrey Goodman, futur évêque de Gloucester, « il était le plus bel homme au corps d'Angleterre, ses membres si bien compactés, et sa conversation si agréable et d'un caractère si doux » (G. Goodman, Cour du roi Jacques Ier, i. 225-6). Un autre observateur, Sir Simonds D'Ewes, le trouva "plein de délicatesse et de beaux traits oui, ses mains et son visage me semblaient surtout efféminés et curieux" (J.O. Halliwell (éd.), Autobiographie et correspondance de Sir Simonds D'Ewes, i. 166-7).


  • George Villiers, 1er duc de Buckingham, v. 1616 (W. Larkin ?)

  • George Villiers, 1er duc de Buckingham, 1625 (Peter Paul Rubens)

Nous pouvons avoir une idée de ces caractéristiques à partir d'un portrait peint pour marquer sa création en tant que chevalier de la Jarretière en 1616, qui montre Buckingham rasé de près et avec ses longues jambes élégantes bien en évidence. Neuf ans plus tard, cependant, suite à l'accession de Charles à la couronne, le duc tient à promouvoir une image un peu différente, comme en témoigne ce portrait équestre de Rubens. Ici, un Buckingham barbu projette consciemment un air de machisme et de force, et c'est ainsi qu'il a choisi de se présenter pour le reste de sa carrière.

Que pourrait nous apprendre cette transformation sur sa relation avec James ? Pendant sept ou huit ans, il convenait à Buckingham de cultiver une personnalité plus décadente. Le roi resta complètement amoureux de lui et devint en effet émotionnellement dépendant de lui. À en juger par leur correspondance survivante, Buckingham a développé une affection considérable pour son amant royal. Mais il y avait un problème fondamental. Ce n'était pas un partenariat gay de style moderne. James était en quelque sorte le papa du sucre ultime du XVIIe siècle, inondant son amant de richesse, de titres et d'influence. Buckingham, issu de la petite noblesse, s'est élevé au sommet de la société, les duchés étant à cette époque normalement réservés aux membres de la famille royale. Il a atteint un degré d'intimité informelle avec le roi qui a été refusé aux autres courtisans. Néanmoins, il n'a jamais été autorisé à oublier que James contrôlait leur relation. Le roi aimait se vanter de Buckingham comme sa plus belle création, ce qui signifiait implicitement qu'il pouvait le défaire à nouveau. The duke’s lavish thanks for all the benefits that he received reflected his awareness that he had a lot to lose if circumstances changed, and he was painfully aware that his rivals at court sought his downfall by tempting James with other pretty young men. Over time Buckingham assumed the role of a surrogate son, and James took to signing his letters as ‘thy dear dad’. But the duke knew his place, and invariably described himself in reply as ‘your Majesty’s most humble slave and dog’ (D.M. Bergeron, King James & Letters of Homoerotic Desire, 177, 182). There was surely an element of humour in that moniker, but it also reflected the fundamental imbalance in their relationship, and Buckingham’s perennial insecurity.

The duke’s success in finally winning over Charles offered him a way out of that situation. Exactly how the two men became such close friends has never been fully explained, but by 1623 Charles and James were effectively competing for Buckingham’s attention. Charles gained the upper hand that year when he travelled to Spain in a misguided bid to finalise his marriage to a Spanish princess, and the duke went with him. Once there, Buckingham adopted a flamboyantly heterosexual image, and acquired a reputation for womanizing. By the end of that trip, he and the prince were virtually inseparable, the proof coming a few months after their return to England. Charles, smarting from his treatment in Madrid, had abandoned any thought of a closer alliance with Spain, and was now intent on war. James, who had spent his entire reign promoting Anglo-Spanish peace, naturally opposed this strategy. Buckingham, while as solicitous as ever of his royal master’s wellbeing, sided with Charles. The now ailing king complained loudly about his favourite’s behaviour, but, as Buckingham had no doubt calculated, could not bring himself to dismiss him. These conflicts further enhanced the duke’s standing with Charles, and when the latter finally became king in March 1625 it was generally acknowledged that, in political and social terms, Buckingham’s position was now stronger than ever. Indeed, it was only an assassin’s knife that finally ended his dominance three years later.

Assessing same-sex love and desire in the early modern period is fraught with difficulty, and Buckingham’s case is no exception. His ability to switch between two radically contrasting modes of behaviour may seem strange to a modern eye, but such sexual fluidity was arguably less exceptional at the time. The undeniable warmth of his correspondence with James indicates a fair degree of genuine mutual affection, and indeed it’s hard to see how the duke could have sustained his role as royal favourite for so long without this. Nevertheless, when he had to choose, Buckingham valued his long-term security above loyalty to James, and this suggests that for him, ultimately, their relationship was based not on love but on the pursuit of power and wealth.

R. Lockyer, Buckingham (1981)

M.B. Young, King James and the History of Homosexuality (2016)

Biographies of Buckingham, Prince Charles, Archbishop Abbot, the earls of Pembroke and Somerset and Bishop Goodman will appear in the History of Parliament’s forthcoming volumes on the House of Lords 1604-29. A biography of Sir Simonds D’Ewes is being prepared for the volumes on the House of Commons 1640-60.


3. His Friend Became Famous

Though the public did not yet know either of their names, the teenage traveling buddies would prove to be a duo for the history books. The young Villiers’ partner-in-crime, John Eliot, grew up to be an influential statesman famous for his support of the rights of Parliament—an opinion for which he was repeatedly imprisoned as an adult.

But of the two, Villiers would make the biggest splash by far.

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About George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham

George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham (28 August 1592 – 23 August 1628) (surname pronounced /ˈvɪlɚz/ ("villers"))[1] was the favourite, claimed by some to be the lover, of King James I of England[2] and one of the most rewarded royal courtiers in all history.

5 Relations with Parliament, 1621-1624

6.1 War with Habsburg Austria, France, and Spain

He was born in Brooksby, Leicestershire, in August 1592, the son of the minor gentleman Sir George Villiers (1550-1604). His mother, Mary (1570 - 1632), daughter of Anthony Beaumont of Glenfield, Leicestershire, who was left a widow early, educated him for a courtier's life, sending him to France with Sir John Eliot.

Villiers took very well to the training he could dance well, fence well, and speak a little French. In August 1614, Villiers, reputedly "the handsomest-bodied man in all of England," was brought before the king, in the hope that the king would take a fancy to him, diminishing the power at court of then-favourite Robert Carr, 1st Earl of Somerset.

Following Villiers' introduction to James during the king's progress of that year, the king developed a strong affection for Villiers, calling him his 'sweet child and wife' the personal relationships of James are a much debated topic, with Villiers making the last of a succession of favourites on whom James lavished affection and rewards. The extent to which there was a sexual element, or a physical sexual relationship, involved in these cases remains controversial. Villiers reciprocated the king's love and wrote to James: "I naturally so love your person, and adore all your other parts, which are more than ever one man had" and "I desire only to live in the world for your sake". Villiers gained support from those opposed to the current favourite, Robert Carr, 1st Earl of Somerset. However, restoration of Apethorpe Hall, undertaken 2004-2008, revealed a previously unknown passage linking the bedchambers of James and his favourite, George Villiers.

Under the king's patronage he prospered greatly. Villiers was knighted in 1615 as a Gentleman of the Bedchamber, and was rapidly advanced through the peerage: he was created Baron Whaddon and Viscount Villiers in 1616, Earl of Buckingham in 1617, Marquess of Buckingham in 1618 and finally Earl of Coventry and Duke of Buckingham in 1623. After the reductions in the peerage that had taken place during the Tudor period, Buckingham was left as the highest-ranking subject outside the Royal Family.[3]

In the 1620s, Villiers acquired York House, Strand, which, apart from an interlude during the English Civil War, remained in the family until George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham sold it to developers for ꌰ,000 in 1672. He made it a condition of the sale that his name and title be commemorated by George Street, Villiers Street, Duke Street, Of Alley, and Buckingham Street, some of which have survived into the twenty-first century.

Buckingham with his wife Katherine Manners, their daughter Mary and son George, 1628Buckingham married the daughter of the 6th Earl of Rutland, Lady Katherine Manners, later suo jure Baroness de Ros, on 16 May 1620 despite the objections of her father. Buckingham was happy to grant valuable royal monopolies to her family.

From 1616, Buckingham established a dominant influence in Irish affairs, beginning with the appointment of his client, Sir Oliver St John, as Lord Deputy, 1616-1622. Thence, he acquired control of the Irish customs farm (1618), dominated Irish patronage at court, particularly with the sale of Irish titles and honours, and (from 1618) began to build substantial Irish estates for himself, his family and clients - with the aid of a plantation lobby, composed of official clients in Dublin. To the same end, he secured the creation of an Irish Court of Wards in 1622. Buckingham's influence thus crucially sustained a forward Irish plantation policy into the 1620s.

The 1621 Parliament began an investigation into monopolies and other abuses in England and extended it later to Ireland in this first session, Buckingham was quick to side with the Parliament to avoid action being taken against him. However, the king's decision in the summer of 1621 to send a commission of enquiry, including parliamentary firebrands, to Ireland threatened to expose Buckingham's growing, often clandestine interests there. Knowing that, in the summer, the king had assured the Spanish ambassador that the Parliament would not be allowed to imperil a Spanish matrimonial alliance, he therefore surreptitiously instigated a conflict between the Parliament and the king over the Spanish Match, which resulted in a premature dissolution of the Parliament in December 1621 and a hobbling of the Irish commission in 1622. Irish reforms nevertheless introduced by Lionel Cranfield, Earl of Middlesex, in 1623-1624 were largely nullified by the impeachment and disgrace of the pacific Lord Treasurer in the violently anti-Spanish 1624 parliament - spurred on by Buckingham and Prince Charles.

In 1623, Buckingham accompanied Charles I, then Prince of Wales, to Spain for marriage negotiations regarding the Infanta Maria. The negotiations had long been stuck, but it is believed that Buckingham's crassness was key to the total collapse of agreement the Spanish ambassador asked Parliament to have Buckingham executed for his behaviour in Madrid but Buckingham gained popularity by calling for war with Spain on his return. He headed further marriage negotiations, but when, in 1624, the betrothal to Henrietta Maria of France was announced, the choice of a Catholic was widely condemned. Buckingham's popularity suffered further when he was blamed for the failure of the military expedition under the command of Ernst von Mansfeld, a famous German mercenary general, sent to the continent to recover the Palatinate (1625), which had belonged to Frederick V, Elector Palatine, son-in-law of King James I of England. However, when the Duke of York became King Charles I, Buckingham was the only man to maintain his position from the court of James.

Buckingham led an expedition to repeat the actions of Sir Francis Drake by seizing the main Spanish port at Cฝiz and burning the fleet in its harbour. Though his plan was tactically sound, landing further up the coast and marching the militia army on the city, the troops were ill-equipped, ill-disciplined and ill-trained. Coming upon a warehouse filled with wine, they simply got drunk, and the attack was called off. The English army briefly occupied a small port further down the coast before reboarding its ships.

This was followed by Buckingham leading the Army and the Navy to sea to intercept an anticipated Spanish silver fleet from Mexico and Spanish Latin America. However, the Spanish were forewarned by their intelligence and easily avoided the planned ambush. With supplies running out and men sick and dying from starvation and disease, the fleet limped home in embarrassment.

Buckingham then negotiated with the French regent, Cardinal Richelieu, for English ships to aid Richelieu in his fight against the French Protestants (Huguenots), in return for French aid against the Spanish occupying the Palatinate. The aid never materialised, and Parliament was disgusted and horrified at the thought of English Protestants fighting French Protestants. The plan only fuelled their fears of crypto-Catholicism at court. Buckingham himself, believing that the failure of his enterprise was the result of treachery by Richelieu, formulated an alliance among the churchman's many enemies, a policy which included support for the very Huguenots whom he had recently attacked.

When the Commons attempted to impeach him for the failure of the Cฝiz Expedition (1625), the King dissolved Parliament in June to prevent his impeachment.

In 1627, Buckingham led another failure: an attempt to aid his new Huguenot allies besieged at La Rochelle in France. He lost more than 4,000 men out of a force of 7,000. While organizing a second campaign, he was stabbed and killed at Portsmouth on August 23, 1628 by John Felton, an army officer who had been wounded in the earlier military adventure. Felton believed he had been passed over for promotion by Buckingham.[4] Felton was hanged in November and Buckingham was buried in Westminster Abbey. Buckingham's tomb bears a Latin inscription translated as: "The Enigma of the World."

The memory of George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, is held sacred by the Villiers Club, an exclusive dining and debating society at Oxford University.

A fictionalised Buckingham is one of the characters in Alexandre Dumas, père's The Three Musketeers, which paints him as a lover of Anne of Austria and deals with his assassination by Felton. In Arturo Pérez-Reverte's novel, El capitán Alatriste, Buckingham appears briefly while on his expedition to Spain in 1623 with Charles I. He is also a central character in novels by Philippa Gregory, Earthly Joys, and Evelyn Anthony, "Charles, The King. He also appears, played by Marcus Hutton, in the Doctor Who audio drama The Church and the Crown, in which he leads an aborted English invasion of France in 1626.

Buckingham's daughter, Lady Mary Villiers, was the wife of the Royalist 1st Duke of Richmond. Richmond was the grandson of the 1st Duke of Lennox of the Seigneurs d'Aubigny Stuarts. His elder son Charles (1626 - 1627) died as an infant and the title was inherited by his younger son George.


George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham

George Villiers, Earl of Buckingham, became the favourite of James I after they first met in 1614. Villiers succeeded Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset, as the king’s favourite after Carr’s fall from grace after the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury.

Villiers was born on August 28 th 1592 at Brooksby in Leicestershire. His father was a minor noble who had remarried and Villiers was born to his second wife, Mary Beaumont. He knew that in future years he would have to compete with his half-brothers for a share of his father’s modest estate. His mother was an ambitious woman and she saved enough for him to be educated in France. Here Villiers learned to dance, duel and ride with a degree of expertise. By all accounts Villiers was an athletic and well-built man. One contemporary described him as “no one dances better, no man runs or jumps better.”

James first met Villiers at Apethorpe in August 1614. James was forty-seven.

“He (James) was of middle stature, more corpulent through his clothes than his body, yet fat enough, his clothes ever being made large and easy, the doublets quilted for stiletto proof, his breeches in pleats and full stuffed……his eye was large, ever rolling after any stranger that came into his presence, in so much as many for shame have left the room, as being out of countenance….his legs were very weak….and that weakness made him ever leaning on other men’s shoulders his walk was ever circular, his fingers ever in that walk fiddling about his codpiece.”

James was immediately taken in by Villier’s appearance. In 1615, Villier’s was made a Gentleman of the Bedchamber. His advance after this was swift. In 1616, Villiers was appointed Master of the Horse, made a Knight of the Garter and became Viscount Villiers. In 1617, he became Earl of Buckingham and in 1619, he was made a Marquess.

Such a swift advance up the social order was bound to provoke negative thoughts with regards to both James and Buckingham and the latter certainly made enemies. It was not unusual for a king to have favourites – but the speed with which Villiers climbed the social ladder and was promoted was too much for many.

Their public displays of affection only served to bring the court into more disrepute. James referred to him as “my sweetheart”, “my sweet child and wife” and “my only sweet and dear child”. In response to this, Buckingham flattered the king at every opportunity. There can be little doubt that Buckingham knew what he was doing (he ended his letters to the king with “Your majesty’s most humble slave and dog”) and that by pandering to James he knew that he was enhancing his own position within the royal court. In 1617, James explained to the Lords why he was making Villiers Earl of Buckingham:

“I, James, am neither God nor an angel, but a man like any other. Therefore I act like a man, and confess to loving those dear to me more than other men. You may be sure that I love the Earl of Buckingham more than anyone else, and more than you who are here assembled. I wish to speak in my own behalf, and not to have it thought to be a defect, for Jesus Christ did the same, and therefore I cannot be blamed. Christ had his John, and I have my George.”

One casualty of the rise of Buckingham was the demise in political terms of the Howard’s. In 1618, the Star Chamber, spurred on by Buckingham, prosecuted the Lord Treasurer, the Earl of Suffolk, leader of the Howard faction, for embezzlement. It ended any political influence the Howard’s may have had – but it also removed from power one of the few rivals Buckingham had in 1618. Buckingham used his influence over James to get Francis Bacon appointed to be the country’s senior law officer as Lord Chancellor. This suited James as Bacon was a strong supporter of the royal prerogative and he was now in a position to support the king when James had to justify its use. It also suited Buckingham as Bacon had the Duke to thank for his social and political advancement.

Buckingham was a shrewd manipulator of the king. He also knew the value of patronage – appointing his own men to positions of responsibility. They would support him and be grateful to Buckingham for their elevated status in society. One described Buckingham as thus:

“(A man of) a kind, liberal and free nature and disposition – to those that applied themselves to him, applauded his actions, and were wholly his creatures.”

In 1620, Buckingham married Lady Catherine Manners, the daughter of the Duke of Rutland. He swiftly became a very rich man as he built up a large clientage network of office holders and monopolists. He put his own supporters and family in positions of responsibility and during all of this self-advancement he had the full support of the doting James. Christopher and John Villiers both benefited from their brother’s position in society despite their own limitations. Buckingham’s mother became a countess in 1618, a marchioness in 1619 and a duchess in 1623.

However, far more damaging to James was the fact that he allowed Buckingham to involve himself in policy matters and decision-making. This was bound to alienate powerful groups in Parliament who felt more and more alienated from both the king and decision-making.

The Parliament of January 1621 to January 1622 started to reverse the trend towards Buckingham’s ever-expanding power base. Two men who had gained office via the patronage of Buckingham – Sir Giles Mompesson and Sir Francis Mitchell – were impeached by Parliament for monopoly offences. Lord Chancellor Bacon was also impeached for accepting bribes.

Buckingham was also a supporter of a marriage between Charles and the daughter of Spain’s Philip III – a policy that the majority of Parliamentarians did not support. In December 1621, Parliament produced the ‘Protestation’. This was deemed by James to be a sign that Parliament believed that it had the right to discuss foreign policy issues – something that he was adamant that they did not. James physically tore out the ‘Protestation’ from the House of Commons Journals with his own hands such was his anger.

Buckingham accompanied Prince Charles to Spain (1623) on what was to be a failed marriage mission. From this embarrassing failure, the nation witnessed a complete volte-face by James. War was declared on Spain and in May 1625 and Charles married Henrietta Maria of France.

The influence Buckingham had over James did not decline even in the king’s final months. In one of the last letters written by James to Buckingham in December 1624, James signed off with:

“And so God bless you my sweet child and wife and grant that ye may ever be a comfort to your dear dad and husband.”

James died on March 27 th , 1625. This could have left Buckingham in a void both socially and politically, but he had spent time winning over Charles when he was a prince. Now that Charles was king, Buckingham neatly moved over to his new master and became his chief minister.

Charles and Parliament fell out nearly from the start of his reign. Whereas Parliament had been happy to give James a clean start, the same was not true for his son. Parliament attacked the religious policies of Charles – especially the relaxation of the penal laws against Catholics. With regards to Buckingham they vented their spleen at his foreign policy. His foreign policy was openly criticised as incompetent. Buckingham had signed treaties with Denmark and Holland for English participation in the Danish phase of the Thirty Years War where 8,000 men out of 12,000 died on board their ships without even landing in the Netherlands he had also masterminded the marriage of Charles to Henrietta Maria, a French Catholic, that was far from popular he had also lent Cardinal Richilieu eight boats which were used to attack the Huguenot stronghold at La Rochelle. However, he failed to get France to commit herself to greater involvement in the Thirty Years War. Parliament voted through only limited taxation to finance Buckingham’s foreign policy and this lack of money was a major reason for its failures. As an example, Buckingham wanted an armada to attack Cadiz. 15,000 men were gathered together for this venture in October/November 1625. It was a dismal failure due to the poor training that was given and the poor equipment. Buckingham took the blame for this.

In 1626, Parliament, led by radicals such as Sir Edward Coke, became even more critical of the king’s chief minister and started impeachment proceedings against him. Charles responded by dissolving Parliament. Buckingham reversed his previous foreign policy. Now in support of the Huguenot defenders at La Rochelle, he led 6,000 men to the Isle de Rhé in July 1627. He left in November 1627 having achieved nothing except the loss of nearly half his force. “Since England was England, it received not so dishonourable a blow.” (Denzil Holles)

In 1628, Parliament continued to attack Buckingham and Coke called him the “grievance of grievances”. Parliament sent a remonstrance to Charles in 1628 that declared that they feared for England’s religion, her standing in Europe and her success in the Thirty Years War if Buckingham continued in power. Charles merely prorogued Parliament (June 1628).

Clearly protected by the king, Buckingham confidently went to Portsmouth to start organising another sea-going venture. Here, John Felton, who had taken part in the disastrous Cadiz and Isle de Rhé ventures, murdered him on August 23rd, 1628. Buckingham’s funeral was held at Westminster Abbey where soldiers formed an armed guard to protect the coffin from the cheering crowds.


George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham

This highly ambitious son of a Leicestershire knight rose to be the favourite of James I, and of his son Charles I, on the strength of his charm and good looks. He was full of brave schemes, but lacked the good sense to carry them out effectively. As Lord High Admiral he bungled expeditions to Cadiz and La Rochelle, and his diplomatic incompetence led him to become the House of Commons' 'grievance of grievances'. At the age of 36 he was assassinated by a fanatic while in Portsmouth. This portrait, which shows him in his garter robes, almost certainly commemorates his installation as a Knight of the Garter in 1616.

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Handsome and ambitious, George Villiers became the most notorious of James I's favourites. He was a younger son from a minor Leicestershire gentry family and caught the king's attention during a hunt at Apethorpe in Northamptonshire. Opponents of Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset, saw an opportunity to replace him with Villiers in the king's favour and secured Villiers' appointment as Royal Cupbearer. He flourished and was elevated by the king with astonishing speed through the ranks of the aristocracy, being made Duke of Buckingham in 1623. He became one of the king's leading ministers but was widely regarded as corrupt and extravagant, and although his influence continued under Charles I, he was blamed for a number of military failures while serving as Lord High Admiral he was assassinated in Portsmouth in 1628 by a soldier who had served under him in France. This portrait celebrates Villiers' installation as a Knight of the Garter and elevation to the peerage in the summer of 1616, which was an important indication of his intimacy with the king. His luxurious robes are drawn back to focus attention on his legs, and he wears the garter, bearing the Order's motto Honi soit qui mal y pense ('Shame be he who thinks evil of it'), below his left knee.

This splendid portrait has undergone some changes. Acquired by the Gallery with the background curtains painted green, it was so displayed until 1985, when close examination revealed fragments of paint of the present colour which under analysis proved to be the original. Skilfuly restored to its full glory, by removing the green paint and matching the garments, we can now enjoy the voluptuous splendour of its original colour scheme.

George Villiers was the most notorious of James I&rsquos favourites: men admired by the King, with whom he developed what some regarded as unhealthily close and dangerously dependent relationships. Handsome and charming, Villiers was promoted rapidly at court and as a duke and one of James&rsquos leading ministers, he had considerable power. An effective administrator in some areas and a knowledgeable collector of art, he was widely regarded as corrupt and extravagant, and was blamed for various military failures. He was assassinated by a disenchanted soldier at the age of thirty-six.

William Larkin (d.1619) was one of the most accomplished portrait artists of the Jacobean period. He and his studio painted a large number of dramatic full-length portraits, often including spectacular textiles, as well as more intensely focused head-and-shoulders portraits. Buckingham is depicted here in his lavish robes as a Knight of the Garter.


Meet the English nobleman who may have been King James’ boyfriend

What it’s about: Born in England in 1592 as the son of a “minor gentleman,” George Villiers may have gone through life as merely a handsome rich guy, had he not attracted the notice of James I (also called James VI, as he was the king to unite the Scottish and English crowns, and was the sixth King James of the former, and first of the latter). Villiers was a favorite of the king, and shot through the aristocratic ranks, becoming a knight, baron, viscount, earl, marquess, and then duke in rapid succession between ages 21 and 30. (The title of duke had been retired some time earlier, so this promotion made Villiers the highest-ranking person outside the royal family.) His close relationship with the king sparked speculation, then and now, that the two men were lovers, despite the 26-year age gap.

Biggest controversy: As James heaped title upon title upon Villiers, he also gave him jobs of increasing importance at court. At age 21, members of the court pushed for Villiers to become Royal Cupbearer, hoping he would supplant the King’s previous favorite, Robert Carr . (He did). The following year, Villiers was knighted and named Gentleman Of The Bedchamber . (There’s nothing ambiguous about the name of the role, which was to serve in intimate duties like helping the king dress.) A year after that, Villiers became Master Of Horse and a Knight Of The Garter . The year after that he was made an earl, and the year after that he was named Lord Admiral Of The Fleet. And that’s when the trouble began.

In 1623, after becoming the official Duke Of Buckingham, he was charged with helping arrange the Prince Of Wales’ (the future Charles I ) marriage to Maria, the Spanish Infanta. The plan collapsed, and “Buckingham’s crassness” may have been the cause. The Spanish ambassador insisted Buckingham be executed for his (unspecified here) behavior, but Villiers called for war on Spain instead. He tried to shore up relations with France by betrothing Charles to Henrietta Maria, King Henry IV’s youngest daughter, but the idea of the English king marrying a Catholic was wildly unpopular. To make things worse, Villiers gave military aid to France’s Catholic Chief Minister, Cardinal Richelieu , against his Protestant enemies, in return for help attacking Spain.

That attack failed—an attempt to burn down Spain’s main port was aborted when the sailors captured a warehouse full of wine and got drunk instead of attacking. The Spanish fleet escaped a planned ambush. And Villiers had to retreat from a naval skirmish he fought alongside the French. He blamed Richelieu, and soon sided against him and with the French Protestants he had only recently been fighting against. Through the whole mess, Villiers’ popularity with the English people plummeted, although he never lost the support of James or Charles.

Strangest fact: We don’t know for certain whether Villiers and James I were lovers because of 17th-century England’s love of flowery prose. Our ideas on masculinity have changed dramatically in the last 400 years. It wasn’t uncommon for platonic male friends of the era to speak and write of their friendship in ornate language that, in modern times, would only be used for a romantic overture, and even then seen as a bit much. The King ended a letter to Villiers with, “God bless you, my sweet child and wife.” The Duke responded, “I naturally so love your person, and adore all your other parts, which are more than ever one man had.” Apparently we weren’t doing “phrasing” in 1623.

Thing we were happiest to learn: Villiers was quite a patron of the arts , commissioning paintings (including two Rubens ), financing plays, and buying collections of rare books (including the first book in Chinese to be donated to Cambridge’s library). However, a good deal of his patronage seems to be self-serving—the play he financed was an anti-Spanish satire he intended as propaganda. And the paintings he commissioned were mostly of himself, looking regal, in an attempt to impress and remind people of his standing.

Thing we were unhappiest to learn: Villiers was corrupt as all get-out. He almost immediately used his various positions of influence to “prodigiously enrich his relatives.” He had his friend Francis Bacon appointed Lord Chancellor, but threw him under the bus when Parliament investigated the bribery and “financial peculation” the two men engaged in.

Villiers also abused Britain’s habitual abuse of Ireland, selling Irish titles, controlling Irish customs (the import/export kind, not the step-dancing kind), and prolonging England’s plantation policy (more on that in the next section) for his own financial gain. Twice, Parliament tried to impeach Villiers, but in both instances, he convinced the King to dissolve Parliament for ostensibly unrelated reasons.

Three years after James’ death, Villiers (still supported and employed by the new king, Charles I) was stabbed to death by John Felton , an army officer who had been wounded in one of Buckingham’s campaigns, and believed he had been passed over for a promotion unfairly. Villiers was so disliked by that point that Felton was a national hero, even after he was hanged for murder.

Also noteworthy: Britain’s plantation policy toward Ireland had devastating short- and long-term effects. While ruling over the Emerald Isle, Britain seized property from Irish landowners and gave it to English settlers, creating an English, protestant ruling elite, and an Irish population who were essentially serfs who weren’t allowed to own land in their own country, and in some cases weren’t even allowed to rent it as tenant farmers. At one point, less than 10 percent of the island was owned by Irish Catholics, and Parliament once proposed moving the entire Irish population to the western third of the country, an idea that failed only because of a lack of willing English settlers to re-fill the other two-thirds.

As it is, so many Irish were forced out of the northern part of the country, mostly to be replaced by Scots, that upon Irish independence, those Protestant-majority counties remained part of the U.K., which led to partition of the island and a 30-year guerrilla war .

Best link to elsewhere on Wikipedia: So, back to Villiers’ job as Gentleman Of The Bedchamber . From 1650 to 1837, it was an official office, usually held by a member of the peerage (according to the timeline here, the positions seems to have originated with Villiers, although his own page doesn’t mention that). Duties included attending to the king when he ate in private, helping him dress, and insuring he wasn’t disturbed while asleep or using the bathroom. As unglamorous as this all sounds, it was a sought-after position, as it naturally made the office-holder a close confidant to the monarch. But just so we’re clear on how unglamorous it was, it was quickly combined with an older title, the Groom Of The Stool , who was, as Wikipedia delicately puts it, “responsible for assisting the king in excretion and ablution,” although in practice, the Groom Of The Stool acted more as the king’s personal secretary.

Further down the Wormhole: Villiers was a notorious figure in both history and fiction. He’s met Doctor Who (in 2002 audio drama The Church And The Crown , not the TV series), has appeared in numerous historical fictions of the era (most recently in Howard Brenton’s 2010 play Anne Boleyn), and shows up as a character in Les Trois Mousquetaires , known to American audiences as The Three Musketeers. The book describes him as “the favourite of two kings, immensely rich, all-powerful in a kingdom which he disordered at his fancy and calmed again at his caprice,” and called his life, “one of those fabulous existences which survive, in the course of centuries, to astonish posterity.” No less astonishing was the life of the book’s author, Alexandre Dumas , the grandson of a slave, the son of one of Napoleon’s generals, and one of the most widely read French author of all time. We’ll hear his story next week.

Host of the podcast Why Is This Not a Movie? His sixth book, The Planets Are Very, Very, Very Far Away is due in fall 2021. He tells people he lives in New York, but he really lives in New Jersey.


English Historical Fiction Authors

Katherine Manners was the daughter of Francis Manners, 6th Earl of Rutland and Frances Knyvett. After the death of his first wife Rutland married Cecily, the daughter of Sir John Tufton, who bore him two sons who died in apparently mysterious circumstances which were the centre of a notorious witchcraft case. Their deaths resulted in Katherine becoming the heir not only to the Knyvett property from her mother, but also to the unentailed estates in Yorkshire and Northamptonshire.

Portraits of Katherine show her to have been a rather plain woman, but doubtless her inheritance more than made up for her lack of beauty, and Buckingham and his mother opened negotiations. However, there were complications: Rutland was a Roman Catholic and the king would only permit his favourite to marry a Protestant, therefore pressure was brought to bear upon Katherine to abandon her religion. Rutland may well also have heard the talk and speculation about the exact nature of King James’s intense relationship with his handsome young favourite the Earl was often at court and must have witnessed the very public display of kissing and caressing. The amount of dowry demanded, too, was exorbitant and Rutland was offended. The negotiations floundered, but Buckingham and Mary’s solution to the deadlock was a plan which reflects badly on them both.

In March 1620 Mary visited the Countess of Rutland in the absence of the Earl, and invited Katherine to dine with her, promising to bring her back home before night-fall. It has been commonly assumed that the invitation was to Mary’s Leicestershire home at nearby Goadby Marwood. However, Mary brought the innocent girl to her lodgings at the Gatehouse in Whitehall. Even worse, Katherine stayed overnight, and so did her suitor, despite the fact that his own lodgings were within walking distance. The next day Katherine was returned home, but her outraged and furious father refused to receive her at Belvoir. The fact that Buckingham had also slept under the same roof ensured that Katherine’s reputation was ruined. Rutland was now forced into the position of insisting that Buckingham marry his daughter to save both her and the family’s honour.

The affair caused great scandal and despite Buckingham’s importance, the marriage did not take place at court with the usual lavish and lengthy entertainments, instead the couple were married privately in 1620, witnessed only by the Earl and the King.

The Buckinghams lived a lavish life-style, but it seems clear that this was not the fairy-tale life which Katherine had imagined. Perhaps she had unrealistically believed that Buckingham would leave his life at court and devote himself exclusively to her, and in a bitter, reproachful letter in 1627 she told him that, ‘… there is none more miserable than I am, and till you leave this life of a courtier which you have been ever since I knew you, I shall think myself unhappy.’

Buckingham again outraged convention and stretched Katherine’s devotion to the uttermost when he travelled to Paris in May 1625 to escort England’s new Queen, Henrietta Maria, to her new home. The English favourite scandalised the French court by blatantly making love to the French Queen Anne of Austria, giving scant thought to his pregnant wife at home. The Duke’s obsession with Anne, which he did not try to disguise, must have caused Katherine great heartache, and he made determined attempts to see the queen again.

The evidence suggests that although Buckingham was never in love with his wife he nonetheless genuinely cared for her, and notwithstanding his inability to remain faithful, treated her well. When he discovered that Katherine had been ill, perhaps seriously, while he was in Madrid, he seems to have been genuinely alarmed, confessing his adultery and asking for forgiveness, and even telling her he would return home if she was still sick. Katherine was aware of her husband’s weakness, and comforted by his concern for her, she was able to be sufficiently magnanimous to tell him that he was a good man save for his one sin of "loving women so well."

The increasing attacks upon the Duke during the first three years of Charles I’s reign, and the attempts by Parliament to impeach him in 1626 caused Katherine serious alarm. The Duke survived because of the King’s deep attachment to him, but Katherine and his mother and sister were devastated to hear that Buckingham intended to command a naval expedition to La Rochelle to relieve the Protestant Huguenots in the summer of 1627. Such was Katherine’s distress that Buckingham promised her that he would not accompany the fleet, and she wrote to him several times reminding of his promise to her, telling him in one letter that, "I hope you will not deceive me in breaking yours, for I protest if you should, it would half kill me."

However, Buckingham lied and left without saying goodbye. When she realised that he had really gone, Katherine told him she could almost wish herself dead, but although she had failed to keep her husband at home, her letters indicate her continued attempts to control his behaviour.

Buckingham and Charles planned another attempt to liberate La Rochelle, but this time Katherine refused to allow him to quietly slip away, determinedly accompanying him to Portsmouth in August 1628. Fortunately she was still in her bedchamber when the Duke was stabbed to death by John Felton.

The Duchess returned to her Catholic faith after Buckingham’s death. The king, whose devotion to the Duke had matched her own, removed his beloved friend’s children from her care and had them brought up with his own children. Katherine again occasioned the king’s wrath when she married the Irish Randal MacDonnell, then Viscount Dunluce, in 1635 to general censure. Katherine’s second marriage was equally eventful but seems to have been a far more equal partnership, with Katherine playing a leading role. MacDonnell was deeply distressed when she died in November 1649.

Living through a time of political upheaval and the tumultuous events of the Civil War, Katherine Manners was fiercely loyal and passionately devoted to her two husbands, even to the extent of defying convention and incurring the displeasure of her father and the king to marry the men of her choice.

Pamela J. Womack is the author of Darling of Kings, published by Hayloft Publishing Ltd., an historical novel which tells the tragic story of the friendship between Charles I and George Villiers, First Duke of Buckingham. She has also written An Illustrated Introduction to the Stuarts, published by Amberley Publishing Ltd. She is currently writing the Duke of Buckingham’s biography.


Voir la vidéo: Buckinghams Rebellion and The Vaughans of Tretower


Commentaires:

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