James & Buckingham
1. Personal relations
may be sure that I love the Earl of Buckingham more than anyone
else, and more than you who are here assembled … Christ has his
John, and I have my George".
undoubtedly very taken with Buckingham: he was the only person to
whom James gave the title of Marquess or Duke.|
man of unusual beauty and elegance, gave devoted and constant
attention to James, and accepted his public petting genially. In
exchange James gave Buckingham wealth, position, power, and the control of
all royal patronage. No earlier favorite or statesman, whether under
James or the Tudors, had dominated court and policy as
completely as Buckingham did.|
So entire was
Buckingham's monopoly of power that even George Abbot and William
Herbert, Earl of Pembroke (initially his backers) became his
Buckingham rewarded both himself
and his family lavishly from royal estates and public funds; he
married himself and his relatives into the most important families
in England. By 1620, he was receiving about £14,000 p.a., exclusive
of bribes and one-off gifts.
[Table of Villiers' family connections]
married Lady Catherine Manners, the only daughter of the wealthy
Earl of Rutland. She brought with her a dowry of £10,000 in cash
and land worth c £5000 p.a.
married Frances Coke, a beautiful heiress, daughter of Sir
Edward Coke. Coke paid a portion of £10,000 and £1,000 p.a., and
in exchange Buckingham and James restored him to the Privy
George and his mother did all they could to find dull, plain
Christopher a wealthy wife, but the first woman approached
turned him down flat, the second was saved by her father, and
the third potential bride eloped with another man to avoid him
was wholly dependent on royal favor, so as James grew old and ill,
Buckingham cultivated his relationship with Charles. Initially, they
had got on badly but later the two became such close friends that
when James died in 1625, Buckingham's power was undiminished.|
power, greed, and exaltation above men from older and nobler
families made him enemies. Moreover, he was blamed for almost
everything that went wrong in England between 1618 and 1628.|
The early 1620s was a period of
economic depression. An error in setting the ratio of gold to silver
led to silver (which was used for most transactions) leaving the
country (especially to Holland). This forced the English to resort to
The Thirty Years War increased this
drain of silver and increased the price of English goods on the
Trade slumped and cloth-workers and other industrial workers were
reduced to poverty.
The 1621 Parliament was called in
part to try and resolve the economic problems, but could do nothing.
1622 cloth exports were 40% of their 1618 level. A disastrous harvest
in 1622 added to the problems.
eased a little in the later 1620's but it was not until the 1630's
that the economy fully recovered.
The Parliament of
1621 was called primarily to discuss foreign policy.|
1618 - Frederick was elected King of Bohemia,
election outraged the Habsburg Emperor, Ferdinand II, who regarded
Bohemia as a hereditary
possession of his family.
1620 - Habsburg forces invaded Bohemia and defeated Frederick at the
Battle of the White Mountain.
Spanish troops also invaded Frederick's home territory, the
Palatinate, and by 1622 had occupied it entirely.
|Frederick now ruled nowhere
- but he did have allies: Christian of
Brunswick and the Transylvanian Prince, Bethlen Gabor, a
[More on the Thirty
James I, still
hoping for a Spanish match for his son, Charles, wanted a peaceable resolution
of the conflict whereby Frederick would renounce his title to Bohemia
in exchange for the return of the Palatinate.
He believed that Parliament, with its Protestant sympathies would help
him to bring pressure to bear on the Habsburgs. This was particularly
true because the Twelve Years Truce (1606-1621) between Spain
and the Dutch had ended and fighting had resumed - apparently another
case of Catholics versus Protestants.
indeed virulently anti Catholic, but nevertheless very reluctant to
vote James enough money to mount a serious campaign.
Until the 1630s,
the Catholic Imperial forces under Johannes Tserkleas, Count of
Tilly and Albrecht von Wallenstein were everywhere
triumphant. Only when a Swedish army led by
and supplied with French money intervened, did the tide turn.
The process of impeachment
was revived in 1621 by Sir Edward Coke, although it had not been used
since the fourteenth century.
[Impeachment was inherited by the
English colonies in America and adopted into the
Sir Edward Coke also tried to
persuade Parliament to investigate the royal advisors (especially his
old enemies Bacon and Ellesmere).
Parliament dropped the investigation but when it found evidence that
Bacon had been taking bribes on a scale unusual even by the standards
of the day, they impeached him.|
[Sir Francis Bacon was deprived
of office and fined heavily, but James forgave the fine and Bacon went
into a comfortable retirement writing literary, scientific and
historical works until his death in 1626].
One of the leaders of the attack on
Sir Francis Bacon was Lionel Cranfield (another recent relative
by marriage of Buckingham). He became Lord Treasurer in 1621, and by
his competence and industry almost solved James' financial problems
(despite the King's continued extravagance). Unfortunately, the
solution involved levying still more impositions.
The comparative peace of the first
half of the 1621 Parliament ended when miscommunication led the House
of Commons to begin attacking the Spanish marriage project. James did
want Parliament to bring pressure to bear on Spain, but he was
outraged by this infringement of the royal prerogative and told the
Commons so in no uncertain terms.|
some fiery and popular spirits of some of the House of Commons
argue and debate publicly of
matters far above their reach and capacity, tending to our
high dishonor and breach of prerogative royal. … These are
therefore to command you to make known in our name unto the
House, that none therein shall presume henceforth to meddle
with anything concerning our government or deep matters of
State, and namely not to deal with our dearest son's match
with the daughter of Spain, nor to touch the honor of that
King or any other our friends and confederates; …"
James to the Speaker of the Commons, 3
letter provoked a major row with the House of Commons, which regarded
it as an infringement of their right of free speech.
James fired more
angry letters back, and the Commons finally passed the
Protestation of the
House of Commons.
Parliament (6 January 1622) and tore the Protestation out of the
Commons' Journal. Coke was sacked from the Privy Council and never
regained royal favor.
House Of Commons' opposition the the marriage of Charles to Philip III's daughter, Maria, James pressed on with negotiations. The Spanish
dragged their heels.
1623 - In a wildly romantic and
decidedly stupid escapade, Charles and Buckingham went to Spain to woo
the Spanish princess in person. They achieved nothing (Maria said she
would rather go into a nunnery than marry Charles), and risked a great
[An entertaining fictionalization of this event can be found in
Captain Alatriste by Arturo Perez-Reverte.]
Maria later married Ferdinand, King of Hungary who became Emperor
Returning home empty-handed and
humiliated in September, both Charles and Buckingham now turned
against Spain. Buckingham looked for anti-Spanish
allies, and approached the puritan leader, John Preston. James
blocked plans for a war of revenge, but his health was failing.|
During the 1620s, the character of
the English Church had been changing. Although James had rejected
puritan demands, he continued to promote clerics who were tolerant of
puritan views. The bishops George Abbot, John Williams,
and Thomas Morton, all saw Catholicism as the main
threat - particularly after the Gunpowder Plot. They and the puritans
agreed on all the important aspects of doctrinal theology - most
notably the doctrine of predestination.
There were divisions in the
Jacobean Church - puritans objected to the
Book of Sports (1618) which allowed the ordinary people to
play sports and games on Sunday; laymen (most notably John Selden)
objected to the idea that they were obliged by God's law to pay
tithes; there were intermittent disputes between secular and
ecclesiastical courts - in 1611 Sir Edward Coke claimed that the Court
of High Commission was illegal.
Nonetheless, the Jacobean Church
was more united than at any time since the Reformation.
In 1618, James sent a delegation to
the Synod of Dort. It condemned Arminian doctrines,
which undermined strict Calvinist notions of predestination.
passed by the Synod].
But there was a contrasting current
in the English Church. A few churchmen were becoming increasingly
suspicious of Calvinism - they wanted to put more stress on sacraments
Lancelot Andrewes, one of the early leaders of
this anti-Calvinist current, was muted in his opposition. But
Richard Montagu, Richard Neile and William Laud, not
only opposed Calvinist doctrines but minimized the points on which the
Church of England differed from Roman Catholicism.
Laud and the other Arminians were
few in number, but they did gain the support of Charles and
8. The death of
|James was troubled with various ailments,
including gout and arthritis. Immediately after his wife's
death in 1618, he suffered a serious gastric illness.|
||Nonetheless, his death on 27 March 1625 at the
age of 58 was unexpected.
|He developed a fever in March 1625. Buckingham
sent his own physician to treat James and the king's condition
deteriorated rapidly. He developed dysentery, suffered a stroke, and
his tongue became so swollen as almost to cause suffocation. The
dysentery finally killed James.|
|Immediately, the rumor began to spread that
Buckingham had poisoned James.