Homosexuality and the Throne of England- Part 3
And we now move from the medieval period, past the Tudors who had their own problems with personal relationships, to the Stuarts. (Please see part 1 here: http://www.historynaked.com/homosexuality-throne-england/ and part 2 here: http://www.historynaked.com/homosexuality-throne-england-part-2/)
James I of England and VI of Scotland married Anne of Denmark and had the required heir and spare for the throne. However, it was well known he enjoyed the company of his male favorites. In fact, many of his subjects, including Sir. Walter Raleigh, called him “Queen James” openly.
His first relationship that could be considered questionable was with Esmé Stewart, 6th Lord of d’Aubigny. They met when James was 13 and Stewart was 35 and recently arrived in Scotland from France. Stewart rose to the rank of duke of Lennox through his favor with the king, and the two became extremely close. James was eventually forced to exile Lennox as the Scottish nobles did not trust him for many reasons, one of which he was a former Catholic. Even though Lennox retreated to France, the two kept up a secret correspondence and when Lennox died not long after he left his embalmed heart to James.
James’ next dalliance was Robert Carr, 1st Earl of Somerset. In 1607, he saw Carr at a royal jousting contest and became smitten with him. James showered Carr with gifts as he recovered from the broken leg he suffered after being unhorsed. Carr was made a gentlemen the bed chamber, Knight of the Garter, a Privy Counselor and Viscount Rochester. Known for his handsome face and figure, young Carr was not known for his mental capacity. To those at court, he was known as coarse, shallow and uncultured. James did not seem to care as he was under the spell of Carr’s looks. In 1613, the king paved the way for Carr to marry the very wealthy Frances Howard, daughter of the Duke of Norfolk. It did not matter that they lady had been married already as a child. Carr wanted her, so James packed the commission assessing the legitimacy of the marriage with friendly judges and bishops. Unsurprisingly, the commission cleared the way for Carr and Howard’s marriage. Carr was made Earl of Somerset as a wedding gift. Ultimately, this wedding became his undoing as he was ultimately put in the tower for an involvement in a murder plot with his wife. For more on that, please see this post: http://www.historynaked.com/frances-howard-queen-hearts-deadly-tarts/
The last of James’ major make relationships was George Villiers. Things between Carr and James were souring, and by 1614 were going very poorly. James met Villiers and was taken in again by his handsome face. Villiers was described as “the handsomest-bodied man in England.”. James called him “Steenie”, which was an illusion to the Biblical description of St. Stephan having “the face of an angel”. Again, Villiers’ rise was quick- moving from royal cupbearer in 1614 to the Earl of Buckingham in 1617. The Privy Council was astounded by this and remonstrated James against such blatant favoritism. James’ said in his defense, “”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 his John, and I have my George.” The 17th century poet Theophile de Viau wrote fairly explicitly about James’ relationship with Villiers saying “Apollo with his songs / debauched young Hyacintus, ….And it is well known that the king of England / fucks the Duke of Buckingham”. It doesn’t get much clearer than that.
However, how much of this is truth and how much is hearsay? Again, the only people who know what happens in a bed chamber are the ones in it. However, this time there is some pretty suggestive testimony as well as some words from James’ own pen.
An English observer said of James and Lennox, “from the time he was 14 years old and no more, that is, when the Lord Stewart came into Scotland… even then he began… to clasp some one in the embraces of his great love, above all others” and that James became “in such love with him as in the open sight of the people often he will clasp him about the neck with his arms and kiss him”. When he fell out with Robert Carr, James accuses him of “creeping back and withdrawing yourself from lying in my chamber, notwithstanding my many hundred times earnest soliciting you to the contrary”. Technically, he was a gentleman of the bedchamber so it could have been official business, but it seems a bit fishy. James also wrote love letters to Buckingham calling himself Buckingham’s “dear dad and husband” and saying “I desire only to live in this world for your sake… I had rather live banished in any part of the Earth with you than live a sorrowful widow’s life without you..” Buckingham writes back to James of a trip they took to Farnham, “sir, all the way hither I entertained myself, your unworthy servant, with this dispute, 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”.
There is no doubt that Villiers and James were extremely close. When James died Buckingham was at his side.
I shall leave you to draw your own conclusions
Sources available on request