Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham

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Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, KG (4 September 1455 – 2 November 1483) played a major role in Richard III of England's rise and fall. He is also one of the primary suspects in the disappearance (and presumed murder) of the Princes in the Tower. Buckingham was related to the royal family of England so many different ways that he was his own cousin many times over, but his connections were all through daughters of younger sons. His chances of inheriting the throne would have seemed remote, but eventually the internecine conflicts among the descendants of Edward III of England and within the Houses of Lancaster and York brought Buckingham within striking distance of the crown. Some historians claim Buckingham's deliberate plotting to seize the throne started as early as the reign of Edward IV, and if they are correct then his elaborate and lengthy plan very nearly succeeded.

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Early life

His father, Humphrey Stafford, Earl of Stafford, supported the House of Lancaster in the initial phase of the Wars of the Roses. He died in 1458 of wounds after First Battle of St Albans, and his paternal grandfather, Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham, another leading Lancastrian, was killed at the Battle of Northampton (10 July 1460). After his grandfather's death, Henry was recognized as Duke of Buckingham. The new Duke eventually became a ward of Queen Elizabeth Woodville, consort of Edward IV of England. Sometime before the time of her coronation in May 1465 he was married to her sister Catherine Woodville, Duchess of Buckingham and Bedford (b.1458). Both parties were children at the time; they were carried on squires' shoulders at the coronation ceremony and were reared in the queen's household together.

According to Dominic Mancini, Buckingham resented his wife and the other Woodvilles as well because of his marriage to a woman of a lower status. When Edward IV died in 1483, and the Woodvilles struggled with Edward's brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, over the guardianship of the young Edward V, Buckingham first sided with Richard.

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