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Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, by an unknown artist, 1520, at Magdalene College, Cambridge.

Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham (3 February 1478 – 17 May 1521) was an English nobleman. He was the son of the 2nd Duke of Buckingham and the former Lady Catherine Woodville, daughter of the 1st Earl Rivers and sister-in-law of King Edward IV.


Early life

Stafford was born at Brecknock Castle in Wales. His father was attainted and executed for rebelling against King Richard III in 1483, when Stafford was five. Two years later, when King Henry VII ascended the throne, the attainder was reversed and the wardship of the young Duke of Buckingham, along with all his lands, was given to the King's mother, the Countess of Richmond and Derby. (A reason for the reverse of the attainder may be that Buckingham was a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth, the King's wife.)


In December 1489 Henry VII accepted £4000 from the estate of Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland for Buckingham's hand for the earl's eldest daughter, Lady Alianore (Eleanor) Percy.[1] They had four children:

  1. Elizabeth Howard, Duchess of Norfolk, (1494- 30 November 1558) ,who married the 3rd Duke of Norfolk
  2. Henry Stafford, 1st Baron Stafford (18 September 1501-30 April 1563)
  3. Catherine, who married the 4th Earl of Westmorland
  4. Mary, who married the 5th Baron Bergavenny; parents of Mary Nevill, Baroness Dacre

One of their main residences was Thornbury, which had been in the family since 1087. In 1508, Edward was granted permission to castellate the manor, work that was not completed due to his execution. [2]

Life at Court

As a young man, Buckingham was made a Knight of the Garter (1495), and had various ceremonial roles at the Royal Court of Henry VII. He garnered even further honours following the accession of King Henry VIII: Buckingham was Lord High Steward at the King's coronation in 1509, where he also carried the King's crown, and in 1514 he became Lord High Constable.[3]

Buckingham fell out dramatically with the King in 1510, when he discovered that the King was having an affair with the Countess of Huntingdon, the Duke's sister and wife of the 1st Earl of Huntingdon.[4] She was taken to a convent sixty miles away. There are some suggestions that the affair continued until 1513. However, he returned to the King's graces, being present at the marriage of Henry's sister, served in Parliament and being present at negotiations with Francis I and Charles V.

Betrayal and Execution

The real power in King Henry VIII's court was not with the great nobles but with low-born men such as Cardinal Wolsey. Buckingham, with his royal blood and numerous connections by descent or marriage with the rest of the aristocracy, became a leader of the disaffected nobles. During 1520, suspicions were raised about potentially treasonous actions and investigations began. Henry VIII personally examined witnesses against him, gathering enough evidence for a trial. Stafford was finally summoned to Court in April 1521 and arrested and placed in the Tower. Buckingham was tried before a panel of 17 peers, being accused of listening to the prophecies of the King's death and intending to kill the King; however, the King's mind appeared to be decided and conviction was certain. He was executed on Tower Hill on 17 May. He was posthumously attainted by Act of Parliament on 31 July 1523.[5]

In fiction

  • Buckingham is played by Charles Dance in the 2003 two part drama Henry VIII starring Ray Winstone and Helena Bonham Carter. His character was a minor one, killed off in the first 15 minutes.
  • Buckingham is a character in the first two episodes of the first season of the drama series The Tudors. Portrayed by Steven Waddington, Buckingham's intrigues are fictionalized, with several key facts omitted.
  • The accusation and condemnation of Buckingham is depicted in the Shakespeare play Henry VIII.
Political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Stanley
Lord High Constable
Succeeded by
Merged in the crown
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Henry Stafford
(forfeit in 1483)
Duke of Buckingham

Succeeded by


  1. ^ Oxford Dictionary of national Biography
  2. ^ Thornbury Castle Hotel
  3. ^ Entry at
  4. ^ The Mistresses of Henry VIII by Kelly Hart
  5. ^ Luminarium Entry on Edward Stafford


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