Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham

The Duke of Buckingham

An 18th century illustration of Henry Stafford
Spouse(s) Catherine Woodville


Father Humphrey Stafford, Earl of Stafford
Mother Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Stafford
Died 2 November 1483 (aged 28)
Arms of Sir Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, KG

Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, KG (4 September 1454 2 November 1483) was an English nobleman known as the namesake of Buckingham's rebellion, a failed but significant collection of uprisings in England and parts of Wales against Richard III of England in October 1483. He is also one of the primary suspects in the disappearance (and presumed murder) of the Princes in the Tower.


The son of Humphrey Stafford, Earl of Stafford and Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Stafford, Buckingham became Earl of Stafford in 1458 at age 4 upon his father's death, and was made a ward of King Edward IV of England. He became the Duke of Buckingham in 1460 following the death of his grandfather, Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham. In February 1466 he was married to Catherine Woodville, sister of Edward IV's queen, Elizabeth Woodville, and daughter to Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers.[1] Buckingham and his wife had four children:

Upon the death of Edward IV in 1483, Buckingham allied himself to the king's younger brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, helping him succeed to the throne as Richard III in lieu of Edward's living sons. Becoming disaffected with Richard, Buckingham then joined with Henry Tudor and Tudor's mother, Margaret Beaufort, leading an unsuccessful rebellion in his name. Buckingham was executed for treason by Richard on 2 November 1483: he was beheaded in Salisbury market-place. He is believed to have been buried in St Peter's Church in Britford in Wiltshire.[1]

Buckingham's precise motivation has been called "obscure"; he had been treated well by Richard.[2] The traditional naming of the rebellion after him has been labelled a misnomer, with John Morton and Reginald Bray more plausible leaders.[3]

Buckingham is also one of the primary suspects in the disappearance (and presumed murder) of the Princes in the Tower, Edward IV's young sons Edward V of England and Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York.

In fiction

Buckingham is among the major characters featured in William Shakespeare's play Richard III, which portrays him as a man openly allying with Richard III in his schemes—until he is ordered to kill the Princes in the Tower.

Buckingham is depicted as a supporting character in Philippa Gregory's 2009 historical novel The White Queen (2009). He is depicted as the murderer of the Princes in the Tower in Sharon Penman's 1982 debut novel The Sunne in Splendour.


  1. 1 2  "Stafford, Henry (1454?-1483)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  2. Carpenter, Christine (13 November 1997). The Wars of the Roses: Politics and the Constitution in England, C.1437-1509. Cambridge University Press. p. 212. ISBN 978-0-521-31874-7. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  3. Fritze, Ronald H.; Baxter Robison, William (2002). Historical dictionary of late medieval England, 1272-1485. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-313-29124-1. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Buckingham, Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of.
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Richard, Duke of Gloucester
Lord High Constable
Succeeded by
Lord Thomas Stanley
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Humphrey Stafford
Duke of Buckingham
Succeeded by
(restored in 1485
for Edward Stafford)
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