1st Duke of Buckingham, George Villiers

(1592—1628) royal favourite

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Buckingham attracted James I's attention by his good looks, and by 1616 had replaced Robert Carr as favourite. Unlike Carr, however, he displayed considerable administrative ability. The king's repeated affirmations of his dependence upon Buckingham meant that he was blamed for unpopular policies such as the ‘Spanish match’ (for Prince Charles). Only in 1623, during his enforced stay in Spain, did he emancipate himself from James's tutelage. He planned to build up an anti‐Spanish alliance, of which France was to be the linchpin, but religion complicated the situation, for the French protestants of La Rochelle were under attack from their own king and appealed to Charles to save them. Buckingham sent out expeditions against Cadiz in 1625 and in support of La Rochelle in 1627, but both ended in humiliating defeat. The Commons attempted to impeach him in 1626, and two years later denounced him as the cause of all England's evils. This inspired John Felton to assassinate him at Portsmouth in August 1628. Subsequent events showed that he was a symptom rather than the cause of malfunctioning in the English polity.

Subjects: British History — World History.

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