Lambda Lore

The King Who Was a Queen

Funny the things you never learn in school. For example, if it wasn’t for an old queen there wouldn’t have been a Bible that became the foundation of the English Protestant Reformation. As head of the Anglican Church, James Stuart King of England and Scotland authorized this work, which ranks with the works of Shakespeare in shaping the English language. Known as the King James Version of the Bible, it became the most read work in this language’s history.

However, to those of faint heart: Don’t have apoplexy when you learn that pious old King James loved many an English and Scottish lad.

While many men became dukes and earls by romping in the king’s bed, his favorite was apparently George Villiers. Villiers was nick-named “Steenie” by the king after Saint Stephen, who was said to have had the face of an angel. Villiers was the son of a penniless Leicestershire squire, and was introduced to James in 1614. He was regarded by contemporaries as the most beautiful man in Europe, with his “dark chestnut curly hair, a pointed beard of golden brown, clear skin, fine chiseled features, dark blue eyes, and the graceful carriage of the ideal courtier.”

The first sexual encounter between the 48-year-old king and the 22-year-old Villiers is said to have occurred in August 1615 at Farnham Castle. Many years later, Villiers wrote to James asking the king if “whether you loved me now …  better than at the time which I shall never forget at Farnham, where the bed’s head could not be found between the master and his dog.” Villiers referred to himself as James’s dog, and called the king “Dad.” In one letter to the king he addressed James as “Dere Dad” and signed it “Your most humble slave and servant and dog Steenie.”

While Villers began his career at the court as royal cup-bearer, he was made a viscount in 1616 and the Earl of Buckingham in 1617.

Kings James’ behavior did not go unnoticed among his nobles. In 1617 a “moral debate” took place in the Privy Council regarding the King’s romances. Sir John Oglander testified at that time: “The King is wonderous passionate, a lover of his favourites beyond the love of men to women. He is the chastest prince for women that ever was, for he would often swear that he never kissed any other woman than his own queen. I never yet saw any fond husband make so much or so great dalliance over his beautiful spouse as I have seen King James over his favourites, especially Buckingham.”

The king, addressing the Privy Council regarding his right to love whom he would declared: “I, James, am neither a god nor an angel, but a man like any other. Therefore I act like a man and confess to loving those dear to me more than other men. You may be sure that I love the Earl of Buckingham more than anyone else, and more than you who are here assembled. I wish to speak in my own behalf and not to have it thought to be a defect, for Jesus Christ did the same, and therefore I cannot be blamed. Christ had John, and I have George.”

Despite the misgivings of the Privy Council, in 1618 King James made Villiers a Marquess. In 1619, he made him Lord High Admiral, and finally in 1623 the Duke of Buckingham.

In 1623 the love affair of King James and Buckingham was well known internationally. Frenchman Théophile de Viau penned an obscene poem called “Au marquis du Boukinquan” about the pair: “Apollo with his songs, Debauched young Hyacinthus, Just as Corydon fucked Amyntas, So Caesar did not spurn boys. One man fucks Monsieur le Grand de Bellegarde, Another fucks the Comte de Tonnerre. And it is well known that the king of England Fucks the Duck of Buckingham. ”

The Duke of Buckingham’s fall from influence came with the death of King James in 1625. He was removed from power and sent to fight wars on the continent. After making a mess of a campaign in France, he returned to England in 1628 to quell an uprising of mutinous sailors who were demanding their pay from the government.

On the morning of Aug. 23, 1628, as Buckingham finished his breakfast a sailor named John Felton “leaped forward and stabbed him in the breast.” Buckingham cried, “The villain hath killed me!” and staggered then collapsed. He died at the age of 36.

Buckingham’s heart and brain were placed in urns and buried at the Cathedral of Portsmouth, where there is also a monument to him. His body was buried in the Henry VII Chapel at Westminster Abbey, near the tomb of his beloved King James. The monarch was responsible for the restoration and remodeling of this chapel, which celebrates for eternity his love for two men. The Duke of Buckingham’s tomb is on King James’s left and on his right is the tomb of his other lover, Ludovic Stuart, Duke of Richmond and Lennox.


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