Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham

Born: February 3, 1478

Brecon, Powys, Wales

Died: May 17, 1521

Tower Hamlets, London, England (Age 43)

Buckingham in History

By the time Edward Stafford had reached his fifth birthday, he was forced to go into hiding, in various places, for the next two years. Edward's father, the 2nd Duke of Buckingham, had been a staunch supporter of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and had been his fellow duke's most important ally in his quest for England's crown. Several months following Gloucester's accession as Richard III, Buckingham rebelled against his former friend. The rebellion, however, would quickly be put down, and the duke was arrested and promptly executed for treason. When Richard III was deposed and killed in battle by the new King Henry VII in 1485, the elder Buckingham's attainder was reversed, and Edward was free to inherit his father's titles and lands. Since he was still only a boy of seven, Buckingham was made a ward of Margaret Beaufort, mother to the new king.

Buckingham was treated well and received a solid education but did not seem to be overly active in politics, even once he came of age, as a man of his social standing usually would be. He participated in the subduing of the Perkin Warbeck rebellion (1497); played a part in the wedding festivities for Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon (1501); and took part in the coronation ceremonies of the new King Henry VIII (1509). Throughout the new regime, Buckingham continued to involve himself relatively little in politics. He did participate in the king's French expedition (1513); attended the Field of the Gold Cloth ceremony (1520); and was given a number of minor offices, but remained very much in the background of political affairs. Perhaps Buckingham had learned a valuable lesson from his father and great-grandfather, both of whom had been killed as a result of being highly active in royal service. It is also likely that Buckingham simply did not feel the need to involve himself because he was already the richest magnate in England and had nothing to gain but trouble.

Trouble came in the form of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, the top adviser to Henry VIII, who Buckingham and a number of other member of the nobility despised and felt was a man who endangered the whole feudal system. Although it is by no means clear, it would not be a surprise if Wolsey played a major part in the duke's arrest and conviction of treason in 1521. The reasons for Buckingham's arrest are shrouded in mystery to this very day. Supposedly, the duke had been listening to the prophesies of one Nicolas Hopkins, who claimed that Buckingham would one day be king. He also seems to have believed that Henry VIII had not yet produced a male heir because of his of his father's past indiscretions (namely the execution of the Earl of Warwick, the last legitimate male member of the Plantagenet dynasty). Buckingham did have royal blood (he was descended from John of Gaunt, third surviving son of Edward III, through his mother and Thomas of Woodstock, fifth surviving son of Edward III, through his father) and therefore possessed a valid claim to the throne. Despite these facts, the situation still seems extremely suspicious, and it seems unlikely Buckingham would have committed such foolish acts when he had so much to lose. One can imagine his downfall was caused by Wolsey's doings, combined with Henry VIII's policies of eliminating anyone with a claim to the throne (a practice Henry VII also made use of). Whatever the situation may have been, Buckingham was executed for treason in May 1521, following in the foot steps of his father. With an outcome such as this, it is no wonder that Buckingham attempted to remain as far away from political activity as possible.

Buckingham in Shakespeare

Appears in: Henry VIII

The Duke of Buckingham first appears in Henry VIII when he is seen with his fellow lords as they discuss their extreme hatred for Cardinal Wolsey, a man they all feel is corrupt and deceitful. By the end of the scene, Buckingham is arrested on charges that he conspired against the king's life by listening to a prophecy that claimed he would become king should Henry VIII die without heirs. We are led to believe that Buckingham's surveyor has been paid off by Cardinal Wolsey to testify against his master at the trial. In the end, despite the pleadings from Queen Catherine, Buckingham is convicted of treason and summarily executed, much to the chagrin of the people of England.


Make a Free Website with Yola.