Stafford, Humphrey, Duke of Buckingham

   Humphrey Stafford, duke of Buckingham,was one of the wealthiest magnates and largest landowners in fifteenth-century England, as STAFFORD, HUMPHREY, DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM 253 well as a force for political moderation in the early stages of the WARS OF THE ROSES. Stafford was only a year old when his father’s death at the Battle of Shrewsbury made him earl of Stafford. From his mother, a granddaughter of Edward III, Stafford inherited royal blood and extensive estates. In 1421, Henry V knighted Stafford for his military service in FRANCE, and, by 1424, the young earl was a prominent member of HENRY VI’s regency COUNCIL. Traveling abroad with the king in 1430, Stafford was appointed constable of France and governor of Paris. He participated in several French campaigns in the 1430s and was named captain of CALAIS in 1442. Created duke of Buckingham in 1444, he took a lead role over the next two years in the peace negotiations with France. Although related to both Richard PLANTAGENET, duke of York, and Edmund BEAUFORT, duke of Somerset, and married to a sister of Richard NEVILLE, earl of Salisbury, Buckingham associated himself with neither the Lancastrian nor the Yorkist faction in the 1450s. He disliked York’s ambition but opposed the imposition of a severe punishment on York after his submission following the DARTFORD UPRISING in 1452, and he cooperated with the duke during his FIRST PROTECTORATE in 1454. In 1455, Buckingham commanded the royal army at the Battle of ST.ALBANS, where he refused to surrender Somerset to York and negotiated unsuccessfully for a peaceful settlement. He stayed with the king during the ensuing battle and was wounded in the face by an arrow. Buckingham again worked with York in the years after St. Albans, but his fundamental loyalty was to Henry VI, and he stood with the king when hostilities broke out in 1459. Buckingham was with the royal army at the Battle of LUDFORD BRIDGE and attended the COVENTRY PARLIAMENT at which York and his Neville allies were attainted of treason (see Attainder, Act of). In July 1460, the duke commanded the royal army at NORTHAMPTON, and repeatedly turned away messengers from Richard NEVILLE, earl of Warwick, who were seeking to arrange an audience for Warwick with the king. When the Yorkists overwhelmed the Lancastrian line, Buckingham was one of the peers who were slain defending the royal person. He had probably been marked for destruction by the Yorkists, as Somerset had been at the Battle of St. Albans; by 1460, the worsening civil conflict had moved beyond the policy of moderation and reconciliation that Buckingham represented.
   See also other entries under Stafford
   Further Reading: Griffiths, Ralph A., The Reign of King Henry VI (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981);“Humphrey Stafford,” in Michael Hicks, Who’s Who in Late Medieval England (London: Shepheard-Walwyn, 1991), pp. 287–289; Rawcliffe, Carole, The Staffords: Earls of Stafford and Dukes of Buckingham, 1394-1521 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978).

Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. . 2001.

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