George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham

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Sir George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham KG (28 August 1592 – 23 August 1628) (surname pronounced /ˈvɪlərz/ "villers")[1] was the favourite, claimed by some to be the lover, of King James I of England[2] Despite a very patchy political and military record he remained at the height of royal favour for the first two years of the reign of Charles I, until he was assassinated. He was one of the most rewarded royal courtiers in all history.

Contents

Early life

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.

George Villiers took very well to the training set by his mother; he could dance well, fence well, and speak a little French. In August 1614, Villiers, reputedly "the handsomest-bodied man in all of England,"[3] 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.

Court life

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". Restoration of Apethorpe Hall in 2004–2008 revealed a previously unknown passage linking his bedchamber with that of James.[4]

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