DUKE OF, British courtier: b. Brooksby, Leices tershire, 28 Aug. 1592; d. Portsmouth, 23 Aug. 1628. He was the unworthy favorite of James I and Charles I. His father was George Vil liers, knight; his mother was descended from the ancient .family of Beaumont. His father died when he was 13, and at 18 he was sent to France, where he resided three years, and acquired great skill in all bodily exercises. This, together with his beauty of person and graceful manners, made so great an impression on James I, who gave him the familiar name of Steenie, that in less than two years he was made a knight, a gentleman of the bed-chamber, viscount, Marquis of Buckingham and lord high admiral, etc., and at last dispenser of all the honors, offices, favors and revenues of the three kingdoms, according to the dictates of his ambition, his cupidity or his caprice. The nation was indignant at seeing merit under valued, the people trampled upon, the nobility humbled, the crown impoverished and degraded, to elevate and enrich a weak and insolent favorite. Such rapid and undeserved promo tion likewise caused many private jealousies. In 1623 he engaged in a romantic adventure with Charles, Prince of Wales, in connection with which traitorous views have been attrib uted to him. The Earl of Bristol was negotiat ing a marriage for the Prince with the Infanta of Spain. Buckingham persuaded the Prince to go to Madrid and carry on his suit in person. They set out incognito, passed through various adventures and saw on their way the Princess Henrietta Maria of France, whom Charles afterward married. The result of this journey
is well known. The marriage was broken off, war declared with Spain and Bristol was im peached. Bucicingham was created a duke dur ing his absence, and whatever misconduct may have been associated with the design or execu tion of his mission, his favor with the King and Prince remained unimpaired. James died in March 1625, and in May of the same year Buckingham was sent to France as proxy for Charles I, to marry the Princess Henrietta Maria. In the following year the unpopularity of the war with Spain, and the failure of the expedition to. Cadiz, caused his impeachment, from the consequences of which he was saved by his favor with the King. His intrigues soon after brought on war with France, and he was entrusted with an expedition to succor the Rochellese, but they refused his aid, and he carried his forces to the Isle of Rhe, where, after three months spent in unskilful operations, he suffered a defeat in re-embarking which cost 2,000 men. Notwithstanding this proof of incapacity, a large force was again entrusted to him to renew the attempt on Rochelle. He went to Portsmouth to superintend the prepara tion, and was there assassinated by John Felton, a lieutenant who had withdrawn from the army in consequence of being disappointed in pro motion.