An absorbing account of the conspiracy to kill King James I by his handsome lover, the Duke of Buckingham, an historical crime that has remained hidden for 400 years.
The rise of George Villiers from minor gentry to royal power seemed to defy gravity. Becoming gentleman of the royal bedchamber in 1615, the young gallant enraptured James, Britain’s first Stuart king, royal adoration reaching such an intensity that the king declared he wanted the courtier to become his ‘wife’. For a decade, Villiers was at the king’s side – at court, on state occasions, and in bed, right up to James’s death in March 1625.
Almost immediately, Villiers’ many enemies accused him of poisoning the king. A parliamentary investigation was launched, and scurrilous pamphlets and ballads circulated London’s streets. But the charges came to nothing, and were relegated to a historical footnote.
Now, new research suggests that a deadly combination of hubris and vulnerability did indeed drive Villiers to kill the man who made him. It may have been by accident – the application of a quack remedy while the king was weakened by a malarial attack. But there is compelling evidence that Villiers, overcome by ambition and frustrated by James’s passive approach to government, poisoned him.
InThe King’s Assassin, acclaimed author Benjamin Woolley examines this remarkable, even tragic story. Combining vivid characterization and a strong narrative with historical scholarship and forensic investigation, Woolley tells the story of King James’s death, and of the captivating figure at its center.
“Woolley has an entirely new, riveting tale to tell…A perfect choice for readers who love English history, especially the Stuart period.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Woolley re-creates the charged sexual and emotional atmosphere surrounding Villiers on a stage packed with powerful, intelligent women, conniving and jealous men, and two kings in desperate need of human love…an engaging account of the personalities and political culture of early Stuart England.” —Choice
"Woolley once again proves himself an adept sleuth among complex sources.”—The Weekly Standard
“Engaging…active history collections should include this niche-filling examination.”—Booklist
“Woolley draws on new evidence from noted toxiocologist John Henry who believes that someone probably murdered the king...an engrossing portrait of an ambitious man trusted by two kings that both casual reader and Stuart history fans can enjoy."—Publishers Weekly
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“A highly readable account . . . Woolley blends nuanced analysis with face-paced narrative.”—Publishers Weekly
“Woolley tackles his subject with the same type of narrative gusto displayed by Nathaniel Philbrick . . . Like Philbrick, his treatment of a legendary event and era in American history is comprehensive and myth shattering.”—Booklist
"Brilliantly framed narrative...fascinating...A well-told story." —Kirkus(starred review)
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