Little Bits of History

May 17

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 17, 2017

1521: Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, is executed. Edward was born in 1478 into a family with aristocratic ties and was the nephew of Elizabeth Woodville, queen consort of King Edward IV. As the eldest son of the second duke, he stood to gain the title. His father participated in a rebellion against King Richard III and was charged with treason. The second duke was beheaded without trial on November 2, 1483. At that point, all the family’s honors were forfeit. Edward remained hidden during the rebellion and possibly for the rest of Richard’s reign. When King Henry VII defeated Richard III at Bosworth in 1485, Edward was returned to his aristocratic holdings. He was able to attend Henry’s coronation as a Duke. The seven year old was given to Margaret Beaufort, the King’s mother, to raise.

Edward was educated and trained in various royal households and became a Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1495. At the age of 19, he was a captain in the forces sent out to maintain order in Cornwall after a rebellion started there. He was known as a fancy dresser at court and at Prince Arthur’s wedding, is said to have worn an outfit costing £1500. He was also the chief challenger at the tournament the following day. Edward was part of the coronation ceremony for King Henry VIII and was part of his Privy Council. Edward received permission from his friend/king to rebuild the family manor house in the style of a massive crenellated castle. Edward served his King in both military and home endeavors.

Edward was one of just a few peers with substantial Plantagenet blood and had ties to much of the upper aristocracy. Because of these ties, Henry began to have his doubts and in 1520 the King ordered Edward to be investigated for possible treasonous actions. The King personally interviewed witnesses to gather information for a trial. The Duke was summoned to the court in April 1521 whereupon he was arrested and placed in the Tower. He was tried in front of a panel of 17 peers and was accused of listening to prophecies of the King’s death and intending to kill the King. Sir Thomas More complained that evidence supplied by servants were hearsay. This made no difference at the trial and Edward was found guilty.

He was executed on Tower Hill on this day. He was 43 years old. An Act of Parliament on July 31, 1523 stripped him of all his titles and family holdings as well as blocked the inheritance of any titles and holdings. John Guy, present day historian, concluded this was one of the rare executions of aristocrats in which the person was “almost certainly guilty”. Edward had four legitimate children. His son became 1st Baron Stafford and all three of his daughters married into aristocratic families, one marrying a duke, one an earl, and the last a baron. This three illegitimate children didn’t fare quite as well although Edward did manage to have his other daughter marry the half-brother of an earl.

It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend. – William Blake

It’s hard to tell who has your back, from who has it long enough just to stab you in it. – Nicole Richie

Betrayal is the only truth that sticks. – Arthur Miller

It is more shameful to distrust our friends than to be deceived by them. – Confucius