Sir George Villiers (1592-1628) was appointed as cupbearer to James VI and I in 1614, and from there enjoyed a meteoric rise to power as James' favourite, a process decisively aided by the fall of James' previous favourite, Robert Carr, in 1615 (see d1_AytR_005 and d1_AytR_010). Villiers received a bewildering array of gifts and honours from the king during his career. In January 1616 he was appointed master of the horse; a year later he was elevated to the earldom of Buckingham (further elevated to a marquisate in January 1618); and in January 1619 he was made master of the fleet, or lord high admiral. By this stage Buckingham was at the height of his power and exercised a virtual monopoly on all royal offices, grants and patents, a monopoly which endured (thanks to a close personal friendship with Prince Charles, forged in the pair's disastrous and unsuccessful expedition to Madrid in 1623 to secure Charles' marriage to the infanta, Maria Anna) until his assassination in 1628 (see d1_AytR_023). Ayton celebrates here his accession as lord admiral; and although he would not have known it at the time Buckingham's tenure in the post was largely successful, and seen as an era of naval reform. For further details, see Gullans (ed.), Ayton, p. 54 (including contemporary English translation); Roger Lockyer, 'Villiers, George, first duke of Buckingham (1592-1628)', ODNB; Roger Lockyer, Buckingham: the Life and Political Career of George Villiers, First Duke of Buckingham, 1592-1628 (Longman, 1981). Metre: elegiac couplets.
De duplici Buckingamii praefectura (1619)
De duplici Buckingamii praefectura
Buckingamus Io maris est praefectus, et idem
qui dominatur equis, jam dominatur aquis.
Sic inter Superos tumidas qui temperat undas
Neptunus, celeres et moderatur equos. 1
Et cuiquam nunc displiceat geminata potestas,
exemplum Superis cum placuisse videt.
On the twin commands of Buckingham
Look! Buckingham is commander of the sea, and the same person who controls the equine legions, now controls the aqueous regions. It is the same among the gods where Neptune, who regulates the swelling waves, also controls the swift horses. And now his twin power would disquiet any man when he sees that his example has pleased the Gods.
1: See Virgil, Georgics I for Neptune's dual role.