Skip to main content
Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The King's Assassin

The King's Assassin

The Secret Plot to Murder King James I

Benjamin Woolley

St. Martin's Press

BUY THE BOOK

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.

In The 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 … More…

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.

In The 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.

Less…

Praise for The King's Assassin

“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 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

On Savage Kingdom: The True Story of Jamestown, 1607, and the Settlement of America

“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)

Reviews from Goodreads

Benjamin Woolley

Benjamin Woolley is an author and broadcaster whose work covers subjects ranging from the origins of virtual reality, to the Elizabethan philosopher, scientist and conjurer John Dee, and from the mathematician and computing pioneer (and daughter of Lord Byron) Ada Lovelace to the history of colonial America. His books, including The King's Assassin, have been translated into German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese, and his documentaries broadcast across the world. He lives in London.

image of Benjamin Woolley o
Izzy Romilly

St. Martin's Press

Latest on Facebook

LATEST ON TWITTER