Adrienne Miller of the University of Edinburgh will be presenting ‘Rise of a Courtier: the second duke of Lennox and strategies of noble power under James VI’
Ludovick Stuart, second duke of Lennox, is acknowledged as the grandee of the post-1603 British court and as one of the infamous noble favourites of James VI. Born in France and brought to Scotland on James’s command at the age of nine, Lennox rapidly acquired power and status not only through the king’s favour but through his own shrewd understanding of the important arenas of noble power: political and administrative office, court and household, and the establishment of patronage networks.
The importance of political office in the acquisition of national power is a self-evident truth, and from a young age Lennox obtained high-level government positions, including governor of the kingdom when James travelled to Denmark in 1589, and two lieutenancies of the north in the 1590s. He also developed a stronghold over the chamber and bedchamber, having inherited high-ranking posts – Lord Great Chamberlain and First Gentleman respectively – from his father, Esmé Stewart. From within the chamber and bedchamber Lennox established a close, personal relationship with James, an important intimacy few other nobles could boast. He also established a large web of patronage, not only political clients but also artists and poets, spreading his net of influence even wider. By maintaining a presence in each of these powerful areas Lennox rapidly established himself as the premier noble of the kingdom, using these successes as a template to establish his incomparable role in the newly unified Britain.