Favoritism in the Courts of Early Modern England: A Study of James I and George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham
Date of Award
From 1614 to 1625, George Villiers ascended to the highest rank of power and prestige in the court of James I of England. Within a mere nine years (1614 to 1623), Villiers advanced from a simple gentleman to Duke of Buckingham and James's permanent favorite. He first caught the king's eye and was sworn a Cupbearer of the Privy Chamber in the fall of 1614. By April of 1615, Villiers was knighted and made a Gentleman of the Bedchamber as his courtly role increased. In 1616, he became Master of the Horse, Knight of the Garter, Baron of Whad~on, and Viscount Villiers. Also by 1616, according to his close friend Francis Bacon, Villiers was "now the King's Favourite, so voted, and so esteemed by all."3 In 1617, 1618, and 1619 successively, Villiers was promoted to Earl of Buckingham and given membership in both the English and Scottish privy councils, then was elevated to Marquis of Buckingham, and subsequently was awarded the position of Lord High Admiral, all through James's generous New Years' presents. January 1619 also brought about a public dedication to Villiers in James' s meditation on the Lord's Prayer. Finally, in 1623 Villiers reached the pinnacle of the peerage as he was made the Duke of Buckingham,4 the only duke in England without a trace of royal blood.5 Such an expedient rise to the top of the power chain is quite surprising considering that Villiers was born into a lower role as the third son of a knight. However, his ascent can be understood as a result of his role as James's favorite.
Heeter, Rachel, "Favoritism in the Courts of Early Modern England: A Study of James I and George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham" (2007). Honors Projects and Presentations: Undergraduate. 272.