Yelverton, Buckingham, and the story of Edward II in the 1620s

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In 1621, in testimony before the House of Lords, Sir Henry Yelverton compared George Villiers, marquis of Buckingham, to Hugh Spencer, one of the notoriously corrupting favourites of King Edward II. This parallel was widely reported, and contributed to the popularity of the Edward II story as a vehicle for discussing Buckingham's controversial career throughout the 1620s. The present article examines the reverberations of Yelverton's parallel, and argues on the basis of them that the popularity of the Edward II story had to do with its reversibility. Contemporaries applied the story to the political turmoil of the 1620s in conflicting ways: some used the parallel to point towards the corrupting influence of favourites and to criticize Buckingham; others drew parallels between the verbal intemperance of Yelverton and his ilk and the unruliness of Edward's opponents. After Yelverton's parallel, the story offered a rich template for topical application as it could be read as either a warning against favouritism or a warning about the regicidal potential of those who opposed the favourite. The article concludes with a transcription of a manuscript account of Yelverton's outburst.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-335
Number of pages23
JournalReview of English Studies
Issue number215
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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