Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham

Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham (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.

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. 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.

Accession of Richard III

Parliament subsequently declared Edward V illegitimate, offering Richard the throne, and he accepted it, becoming Richard III. Buckingham moved quickly to support Richard's claim. He was with Richard when they took possession of the young King Edward V at Stony Stratford in April 1483 and played a major role in the coup d'etat which followed.

After initially supporting Richard, Buckingham subsequently started working with John Morton, Bishop of Ely, in support of Buckingham's second-cousin Henry Tudor against the King, even though this placed him on the same side as his despised Woodville in-laws.

Rebellion of 1483

In 1483 a conspiracy arose amongst a number of disaffected gentry, supporters of Edward IV. They originally planned to depose Richard III and place Edward V back on the throne. When rumours arose that Edward and his brother (the Princes in the Tower) were dead, Buckingham intervened, proposing instead that Henry Tudor return from exile, take the throne and marry Elizabeth of York. For his part, Buckingham would raise a substantial force from his estates in Wales and the Marches. [Ross 105-119]

By a combination of luck and skill, Richard put down the rebellion: Henry's ships ran into a storm and had to go back to Brittany, and Buckingham's army was greatly troubled by the same storm and deserted when Richard's forces came against them. Buckingham tried to escape in disguise but was turned in for the bounty Richard had put on his head, and he was convicted of treason and beheaded in Salisbury on 2 November.Following Buckingham's execution, his widow, Catherine, married Jasper Tudor.

The Bohun Estate

Buckingham's motives in these events are disputed. His antipathy to Edward IV and his children probably arose from two causes. One was his dislike for their mutual Woodville in-laws, whom Edward greatly favoured. Another was his interest in the Bohun estate. Buckingham had inherited a great deal of property from his great-great-grandmother, Eleanor de Bohun, wife of Thomas of Woodstock and daughter of Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford, Essex and Northampton.

Eleanor's younger sister and co-heir Mary de Bohun married Henry Bolingbroke, who eventually became Henry IV, and her share of the de Bohun estates became incorporated into the holdings of the House of Lancaster, being eventually inherited by Henry VI. When Henry VI was deposed by Edward IV, Edward appropriated that half into the Crown property under the House of York.

Buckingham claimed those lands should have been devolved to him instead, and it is likely that Richard III promised to settle the estate on Buckingham in return for his help seizing the throne. Indeed, after Richard's coronation he did award the other half of the Bohun estate to Buckingham, but it was conditional on the approval of Parliament. [Ross 114] Historians disagree on whether this condition was in fact a way for Richard to appear to keep his promise while actually breaking it, but this may have been a motivation for Buckingham to turn against Richard.

The Princes in the Tower

Richard III is alleged to have consolidated his power by eliminating his brother's children, who preceded him in succession to the throne. However, there is some question about Buckingham's relationship to the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower. According to a manuscript discovered in the early 1980s in the College of Arms collection, the Princes were murdered "be [by] the vise" of the Duke of Buckingham. There is some argument over whether "vise" means "advice" or "devise," and, if the former, in what sense. [Firth Green]

If Richard was responsible for killing the Princes in the Tower, the murders may have caused Buckingham to change sides. On the other hand, Buckingham himself had motivation to kill the Princes, being a Lancastrian contender for the throne with a viable claim potentially equivalent to that of Henry Tudor, depending on one's view of the legitimacy of the Tudor branch of the House of Lancaster. According to this perspective, if Buckingham killed the Princes and blamed Richard, he could foment a Lancastrian rebellion, putting the throne into play with only Henry Tudor as a rival. Indeed, a Lancastrian rebellion followed, but it was Henry Tudor who succeeded in deposing Richard III.

Relationship to Edward III

Three of Buckingham's four grandparents were descended from Edward III of England:
* Buckingham's paternal grandfather was Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham, who was the grandson and senior descendant of Thomas of Woodstock, youngest son of Edward III.
* Buckingham's paternal grandmother Anne Neville was a granddaughter of John of Gaunt through his daughter Joan Beaufort, making her a great-granddaughter of Edward III.
* Buckingham's maternal grandfather Edmund Beaufort was a grandson of John of Gaunt, the youngest son of his son John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset.
* Buckingham's maternal grandmother Eleanor Beauchamp was descended from a daughter of William Marshal but not from Edward III.
*Buckingham's grandparents Anne Neville and Edmund Beaufort were also first cousins for their respective parents Joan Beaufort and John Beaufort were sister and brother.

Important relatives

Buckingham was the son of Humphrey Stafford, Earl of Stafford and Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Stafford.Four of Buckingham's first and second cousins became King of England, and two of his second cousins became Queen:

* Edward IV and his brother Richard III were Buckingham's first cousins once removed. Buckingham's father Humphrey, Earl Stafford, was son of Anne Neville (~1411-1480). Anne's sister Cecily, Duchess of York was the mother of Edward IV and Richard III. Edward's son Edward V was thus Buckingham's second cousin, as was the younger Edward's sister Elizabeth of York, later wife and Queen Consort of Henry VII of England.

*Henry Tudor, later King Henry VII was Buckingham's second cousin. Buckingham's mother was Margaret Beaufort (~1427-1474), daughter of Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset. Margaret's first cousin, also named Margaret Beaufort (1443-1509) was the mother of Henry VII, the latter Margaret being the daughter of the 1st Duke of Somerset.

* Anne Neville, in line to become Queen as the wife of Lancastrian Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, eventually did become Queen as the wife of Richard III of England. Her paternal grandfather Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury was the brother of Buckingham's paternal grandmother (also named Anne Neville) making Buckingham the Queen's second cousin.

One can see from the ancestral chart below that two of his great-grandparents were brother and sister (John Beaufort and Joan Beaufort). This made Buckingham's parents second cousins.

The Ancestry of Henry Stafford


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boxstyle_2=background-color: #fb9;
boxstyle_3=background-color: #ffc;
boxstyle_4=background-color: #bfc;
1= 1. Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham
2= 2. Humphrey Stafford, Earl of Stafford
3= 3. Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Stafford
4= 4. Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham
5= 5. Anne Neville
6= 6. Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset
7= 7. Eleanor Beauchamp
8= 8. Edmund Stafford, 5th Earl of Stafford
9= 9. Anne of Gloucester
10= 10. Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland
11= 11. Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland
12= 12. John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset
13= 13. Margaret Holland
14= 14. Richard de Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick
15= 15. Elizabeth Berkeley, Countess of Warwick

Children

Buckingham and his wife Catherine Woodville were parents to four children:

*Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham (3 February, 1478 - 17 May, 1521). Executed by order of Henry VIII of England.
*Elizabeth Stafford, Countess of Sussex. Married Robert Radclyffe, 1st Earl of Sussex and was mother to Henry Radclyffe, 2nd Earl of Sussex and grandmother of Thomas Radclyffe, 3rd Earl of Sussex.
*Henry Stafford, 1st Earl of Wiltshire (c. 1479 - March, 1522/1523).
*Anne Stafford, Countess of Huntingdon. Married George Hastings, 1st Earl of Huntingdon and was mother to Francis Hastings, 2nd Earl of Huntingdon and grandmother to both Henry Hastings, 3rd Earl of Huntingdon and George Hastings, 4th Earl of Huntingdon.

Notes

References

* cite journal | title=Historical Notes of a London Citizen, 1483-1488
first=Richard| last=Firth Green
journal=The English Historical Review | volume=96 | month=July| year=1981| pages= 585–590

* A. R. Myers, "The Household of Queen Elizabeth Woodville, 1466-7," Bulletin of the John Rylands Library (1967-68).
* Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, "Stafford, Henry, Second Duke of Buckingham," by C. S. L. Davies.
*
*
*

External links

* [http://www.tudorplace.com.ar/STAFFORD1.htm#Henry%20STAFFORD%20(2°%20D.%20Buckingham) Listed among other members of the Stafford family, with their genealogies clarified]


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