Producing Libertine Politics: The Rehearsal

  • Jeremy W. Webster


Having dashed about London for nearly a month, hiding by day and changing quarters each night in an attempt to avoid arrest on charges of high treason, George Villiers, duke of Buckingham, gave himself up and made his way to the Tower of London on June 28, 1667. Accused by his own steward of prognosticating the king’s death by hiring an astrologer to cast the king’s horoscope, Buckingham’s life was at stake if found guilty of this crime. As Theobald Taaffe, earl of Carlingford, reported to James Butler, duke of Ormonde, Charles II received Buckingham that morning and “was very kind to the Duke,” asserting “that he would be content to have his head cut off, if he did not prove that the witnesses examined against the Duke were suborned and bribed.” In the face of this danger, Buckingham invested his journey to the Tower with the appearance of a triumphant royal progress. As another of Ormonde’s correspondents related, “My Duke of Buckingham in his way to the Tower dyned at the Sun in Bishopsgate, gazed on by numerous spectators to whom he designedly showed himself with great ceremony from the balconye.” He even sent advance “word to the Lieutenant of the Tower that he would come to him as soon as he had dined”. The crowds cheered his performance, since, as Samuel Pepys reported, “the world reckon[s] him to suffer upon no other account then that he did propound <in Parliament> to have all men questioned that had to do with the receipt of the Taxes and prizes,” a motion to guarantee that the king’s tax agents faithfully performed their duties and to call into question the governing practices of his political nemesis, Lord Chancellor Edward Hyde, earl of Clarendon.1


Religious Freedom Religious Toleration Black Patch Privy Council Libertine Performance 
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© Jeremy W. Webster 2005

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  • Jeremy W. Webster

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