Will the real Harry Stafford stand up please…?
I recently posted a picture I’d made of Henry “Harry” Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, armoured and mounted, being thwarted by the flooded River Severn, and thus unable to complete whatever his intention was in the autumn of 1483.
We all know he wanted to crowbar his cousin, Richard III, from the throne, but to what end? To try for the vacant position himself? Or was there something else going on that we don’t know about? Maybe he thought Henry Tudor & Co were going to help him to the crown? Perhaps he was going to help put Henry Tudor on the throne?
Hmm, hardly the latter, I think. Buckingham had a far better claim to the crown of England than Henry. Alas, we will never know the full facts. Shortly after the Severn fiasco, his treasonous head was parted from the rest of him, and he disappears from history.
It was commented about my Severn picture that he was in full armour, visor lowered, and therefore completely hidden. Well, yes, that’s true, but then Harry Stafford was a hidden man. He suddenly burst on the scene in 1483, like a firework, to support Richard III, proceeded to betray him, even though Richard showed him great favour, and was promptly convicted of rebellion and treason. The firework fizzled out immediately afterwards in Salisbury. Serves him right.
The portrait of him that is usually found shows a rather plump, disagreeable man who looks much older than Harry’s twenty-eight years and two months. However, variations on the same portrait turn up for his son, Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham. Which duke it actually portrays I do not know. Or, of course, they could have been like peas from the same pod. Mix and match portraits.
All of which leaves me curious to know what Harry really did look like. Here is my version of him. No doubt others will not agree, but I want to ‘picture’ him in my mind’s eye, and take away the anonymity of the mounted knight in armour by the Severn.
So, this is how I imagine Harry to have been. Proud, fashionable, arrogant, with a dashing attitude and rather sensuous features. I feel he would have been blond—dark honey colour—and his eyes blue. That said, that other likeness might have been spot-on. Did he possess great charm? Yes. Was he trustworthy? NEVER! A snake of the first water!
Poor Richard. He would be double-crossed again and again, until finally . . . at Bosworth. And he was an infinitely better man than all the vipers around him.
PS – The background drawing is by Herbert Railton of The Coronation Chair. In Richard’s time the chair did not have the “lion” feet it has now, so I found a more suitable representation. The picture of Richard is taken from Edmund Blair Leighton’s “The Call to Arms” and is much altered. “Harry” is from a Rogier van der Weyden portrait of an unknown gentleman.
PPS – Yes, I admit it, I love doing these pictures. Any excuse, and I’ll post one.