Buckingham, George Villiers, 1st duke of

Buckingham, George Villiers, 1st duke of

(vĭl`yərz, bŭk`ĭng-əm), 1592–1628, English courtier and royal favorite. He arrived (1614) at the English court as James IJames I,
1566–1625, king of England (1603–25) and, as James VI, of Scotland (1567–1625). James's reign witnessed the beginnings of English colonization in North America (Jamestown was founded in 1607) and the plantation of Scottish settlers in Ulster.
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 was tiring of his favorite, Robert Carr, earl of Somerset. Villiers was made a gentleman of the bedchamber (1615) and, after Somerset's disgrace, rose rapidly, becoming earl of Buckingham (1617), marquess (1618), and lord high admiral (1619). In 1620 he married Lady Katherine Manners, daughter of the Roman Catholic earl of Rutland. By this time Buckingham controlled dispensation of the king's patronage, which enabled him to grant lucrative monopolies to his relatives. In 1621, Parliament began to investigate abuses of these monopolies, but Buckingham prevented action against himself (though not against his friend Sir Francis BaconBacon, Francis,
1561–1626, English philosopher, essayist, and statesman, b. London, educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and at Gray's Inn. He was the son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, lord keeper to Queen Elizabeth I.
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) by joining in the condemnation of his relatives. Buckingham favored the proposed marriage of Prince Charles (later Charles ICharles I,
1600–1649, king of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1625–49), second son of James I and Anne of Denmark. Early Life

He became heir to the throne on the death of his older brother Henry in 1612 and was made prince of Wales in 1616.
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) with the Infanta Maria of Spain and in 1623 went with Charles to Madrid. There his arrogance contributed to the final breakdown of the long deadlocked marriage negotiations. Buckingham, now a duke, returned to England, advocating war with Spain, which made him the hero of Parliament. He lost that popularity rapidly by negotiating (1624) the marriage of Charles with another Catholic princess, Henrietta MariaHenrietta Maria
, 1609–69, queen consort of Charles I of England, daughter of Henry IV of France. She married Charles in 1625. Although she was devoted and loyal to her husband, her Roman Catholic faith made her suspect in England.
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, sister of Louis XIII of France. He was also blamed for the disastrous failure (Feb.–Mar., 1625) of an English expedition, under Graf von Mansfeld, to recover the Palatinate for Frederick the Winter KingFrederick the Winter King,
1596–1632, king of Bohemia (1619–20), elector palatine (1610–20) as Frederick V. The Protestant diet of Bohemia deposed the Roman Catholic King Ferdinand (Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II) and chose Frederick as king.
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; Buckingham failed to supply it adequately. By this time Charles had become king, and Buckingham was more powerful than ever, a fact that enraged Parliament. After the embarrassing failure (Oct., 1625) of an expedition against Cádiz, Buckingham was impeached (1626), and Charles dissolved Parliament to prevent his trial. The following year Buckingham led an expedition (another disaster) to relieve the HuguenotsHuguenots
, French Protestants, followers of John Calvin. The term is derived from the German Eidgenossen, meaning sworn companions or confederates. Origins

Prior to Calvin's publication in 1536 of his Institutes of the Christian Religion,
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 of La Rochelle, and Parliament delivered another remonstrance against him. The duke was at Portsmouth preparing yet another expedition for La Rochelle when he was killed by John Felton, a disgruntled naval officer. The romantic aspects of the duke's career figure largely in Alexander Dumas's historical novel, The Three Musketeers.

Bibliography

See biographies by R. Lockyer (1984) and C. Phipps (1985).

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