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All For One- Chapter Twenty-Six

Updated on July 26, 2015

26. The Earl of Buckingham in Paris

Back in Paris, an Englishman rode through the Porte St. Honoré on June 3rd. He had an entourage of five men and rode a beautiful white stallion. The twenty-four year old George Villiers, the Earl of Buckingham, was no stranger to Paris. After his father passed away, his mother, hoping to raise him as a courtier, sent him to Paris with an English knight, Sir John Eliot. In France, he became a Renaissance man. He could dance, fence and became the master of both languages.

He was also extremely handsome. Three years before, in 1614, he was brought before King James I of England. It was hoped that the Scottish-born King would take a liking to Villiers, and would forget about his favorite, Robert Carr, the Earl of Somerset. There were some that suggested that King James fancied the beauty of the male form, but no one said it in public. The last English monarch accused of homosexuality was killed with a hot poker in his bowels, and the English actually wanted James on the throne and were pleased he had already provided England with an heir. The King liked Villiers and advanced him through the peerage. The Earl of Buckingham was merely Villiers’ latest title, and he gained support from everyone who hated Somerset.

Buckingham soon became involved in Ireland. He had one of his allies appointed as Lord Deputy leading to control of the farms in Ireland and later control of the sale of Irish titles and honors. He was on his way to become the most powerful man in England as King James grew more partial to him and more and more mentally incompetent.

The Duke of Buckingham
The Duke of Buckingham

King James put Buckingham in charge of the future of England. He wanted Buckingham to arrange a royal marriage for his young son Charles. Buckingham was planning to travel to Spain to discuss marriage to the Infanta Maria, but decided to see what Paris had to offer. He knew that the Queen Regent believed that she could spread peace throughout Europe by arranging the marriages of her children. After all, didn’t Spain and France recently swap children in marriage? He knew the King had yet another younger sister, Henrietta. Perhaps a wedding uniting France and England could go a long way to stabilizing the region. Besides, it was on his way.

Of course the union of a Catholic Princess and a Protestant King may be a volatile mixture. He knew what happened here in Paris when a Protestant heir to the throne married a Catholic Princess. He didn’t want to see another St. Bartholomew’s Massacre in London. The Princess would most likely have to renounce the Papacy, or at least swear that her children would be raised in the Protestant faith.

He traveled to the Tuileires, where he was to be lodged with his entourage. He met the Queen Regent and her son, King Louis. He was not impressed with either of them. He knew that Louis had reached his majority and could rule France, yet he didn’t. He knew the Queen Regent was in the thrall of her advisors. He thought it was pathetic. Here were two people who had power, true power, and either didn’t want to wield it or were incapable of wielding it. He met the youngest daughter, Henrietta. She was a beautiful young girl. He was sure that Charles would like her if a deal with Spain could not be reached.

King James I of England
King James I of England

He met the advisors. After meeting Concini, he wanted to take a bath. The man served no purpose but to flatter and cajole, and Buckingham could see that his vision could not see past the old walls of Paris. A fool would not suffer him, yet the Queen Regent did. He met the Bishop of Luçon. He could tell he was a man of intelligence, but he was reserved. He didn’t trust the man. He found the Duc de Luynes to be an affable gentleman, of like manner to himself.

Then he met the Queen. He was astonished by her beauty. Anne of Austria was grace personified, and on that day she wore an emerald green gown with a white ruff around her neck. He knew that she was Spanish by birth, and he found warmth in her dark hair and dark eyes. He loved her at that moment.

She was equally attracted to him. He was truly one of the most handsome men she had ever seen. He wore an extravagant green and white doublet with pillowing sleeves and a high Stuart collar. She thought it was odd seeing her husband next to a real man.

After meeting the Royal household of France, Buckingham was planning to stay a night in the Tuileries and then travel to Madrid. After seeing Anne, he decided to stay in Paris a little bit longer.


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