Buckingham George Villiers Dukeof
Buckingham, George Villiers, Duke of (1592-1628), the third son of Sir George Villiers, courtier and favourite of James I. and Charles I. The former of these kings successively knighted him and made him a Viscount in 1616, and Marquis of Buckingham in 1618. The courtier played his cards so well that he became one of the wealthiest nobles of England, and had the greatest influence with the Prince of Wales, and with the king his father, and having married a rich heiress, and proved himself a formidable rival to Bacon in the king's favour, he deserted the popular anti-Spanish cause, the advocacy of which had just brought him into favour, and threw himself entirely into the hands of Spain. It was doubtless by his influence that the prince and he made their expedition to Madrid, with a view to the marriage of the prince to the Spanish Infanta, and it was also probably under his influence that the determination was made to open negotiations with France, and to bring about the marriage of Charles and Henrietta Maria of France. The deep offence that his rashness in politics had given to the Commons was the great cause that embroiled James I. with his later parliaments, and led to the first dissolution of his parliament by the new King Charles I. Then followed the useless expedition to Cadiz, and the impeachment of Buckingham by the new parliament. The Duke's unsuccessful expedition to the Isle of Rhe and his active opposition to the Petition of Right still further incensed parliament against him, and led to another dissolution. Then followed the last projected expedition for the relief of Rochelle, which was brought to a sudden end by the assassination of the Duke at Portsmouth by John Felton. The Duke of Buckingham to a boundless conceit and ambition seems to have united a buoyancy of temperament and a winningness of manner that carried all before it, and led many to have almost as much belief in him as he had in himself. His nature was particularly one to fascinate a romancer, and, though not strictly historical, it is likely that Sir Walter Scott's sketch of him in The Fortunes of Nigel, and that of Dumas in The Three Musketeers, gives us as good an idea of the man as we are likely to find elsewhere.