LGBT History in The United Kingdom - 17th Century

17th Century

  • 1606 King James I of England began a relationship with Robert Carr, 1st Earl of Somerset. Carr happened to break his leg at a tilting match, at which the king was present. The king instantly fell in love with the young man, even helping nurse him back to health all the while teaching him Latin. Entirely devoid of all high intellectual qualities, Carr was endowed with good looks, excellent spirits, and considerable personal accomplishments. These advantages were sufficient for James, who knighted the young man and at once took him into favour. James made his lover Viscount of Rochester (1611), Knight of the Garter and Earl of Somerset (1613).
  • 1614 King James I of England met the last of his three close male lovers, George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, the son of a Leicestershire knight. George Villiers could dance well, fence well, and speak a little French. In August, Villiers, reputedly "the handsomest-bodied man in all of England", was brought before the king, in the hope that the king would take a fancy to him, diminishing the power at court of then favourite Robert Carr, 1st Earl of Somerset. Villiers gained support as the kings preferred lover from those who opposed Carr.
  • 1615 King James knighted his male lover George Villiers as a Gentleman of the Bedchamber. Restoration of Apethorpe Hall, undertaken 2004–2008, revealed a previously unknown passage linking the bedchambers of King James I of England and Villiers.
  • 1618 King James made his male lover George Villiers Marquess of Buckingham.
  • 1623 King James made his male lover George Villiers Earl of Coventry and Duke of Buckingham. Villiers was now the highest-ranking subject outside the royal family.
  • 1680 A same-sex marriage was annulled. Arabella Hunt married "James Howard"; in 1682 the marriage was annulled on the ground that Howard was in fact Amy Poulter, a 'perfect woman in all her parts', and two women could not validly marry.
  • 1690 King William III of England had several close, male associates, including two Dutch courtiers to whom he granted English titles: Hans Willem Bentinck became Earl of Portland, and Arnold Joost van Keppel was created Earl of Albemarle. These relationships with male friends, and his apparent lack of more than one female mistress, led William's enemies to suggest that he might prefer homosexual relationships.Keppel was 20 years William's junior, strikingly handsome, and rose from being a royal page to an earldom with some ease.
  • 1697 The Earl of Portland wrote to King William III of England that "the kindness which your Majesty has for a young man, and the way in which you seem to authorise his liberties... make the world say things I am ashamed to hear". This, he said, was "tarnishing a reputation which has never before been subject to such accusations". William tersely dismissed these suggestions, however, saying, "It seems to me very extraordinary that it should be impossible to have esteem and regard for a young man without it being criminal."

Read more about this topic:  LGBT History In The United Kingdom

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