James VI & I (Edinburgh, June 19, 1566 – Cheshunt, March 27, 1625) was the King of Scotland as James VI and King of England and Ireland by the Union of the Crowns as James I. He reigned in Scotland from 1567 and in England from 1603 until his death. The two kingdoms were individual sovereign states, each with its own parliament, judiciary, and laws, ruled by James in personal union.
He succeeded to the Scottish throne at just thirteen months old, shortly after his mother Mary of Scotland was forced to abdicate in his favor. Four regents ruled the country during his minority, which officially ended in 1578, although he did not assume full control of his government until 1583. In 1603, he succeeded Elizabeth I of England as the monarch of England and Ireland, reigning over the three countries for another 22 years until his death in 1625 at the age of 58, in the period known as the Jacobite Era in his honor. After the Union of the Crowns, he moved to England, returning to Scotland only in 1617 and calling himself “King of Great Britain and Ireland. James was a great advocate of a single parliament for England and Scotland. During his reign, the Plantation of Ulster and the British colonization of America began.
At 57 years and 246 days, his reign in Scotland was the longest in history. He accomplished most of his goals in his homeland, but faced great difficulties in England, including the gunpowder conspiracy and several conflicts with the English parliament. The “Golden Age” of literature and drama of the Elizabethan Period continued under James, with writers such as William Shakespeare, John Donne, Ben Jonson, and Francis Bacon contributing to a flourishing literary culture. Jaime himself was a gifted scholar, having written works such as Daemonologie, The True Law of Free Monarchies, and Basilikon Doron. He sponsored the translation of the Bible that was named in his honor: the King James Bible. Anthony Weldon claimed that James had been called “the wisest fool in Christendom,” an epithet that has since been associated with the monarch. Since the 20th century, however, historians have revised James” reputation and treated him as a serious and thoughtful king.
James was the only son of Mary of Scotland and her second husband Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. He was a great-grandson of Henry VII of England through Margaret Tudor, elder sister of Henry VIII. Mary”s reign was insecure for her and her husband, both Roman Catholic, facing a rebellion by Protestant nobles. During their complicated marriage, Henry secretly allied himself with the rebels and conspired to kill David Rizzio, the queen”s secretary, three months before Jaime was born.
James was born on June 19, 1566 at Edinburgh Castle; as the eldest son and heir, he automatically received the titles Duke of Rothesay and Prince of Scotland. He was baptized James Charles on December 17 during a Catholic ceremony held at Stirling Castle. His godparents were Charles IX of France (represented by John, Earl of Brienne), Elizabeth I of England (represented by Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford), and Emanuel Felisbert of Savoy (represented by Ambassador Philip du Croc). Mary did not allow John Hamilton, Archbishop of St Andrews, to spit in the child”s mouth, as was customary. The entertainment, created by Frenchman Bastian Pagez, offended the English guests by showing them as satyrs with tails.
Henry was murdered on February 10, 1567 during an explosion in Edinburgh, perhaps revenge for Rizzio. Jaime thus inherited the titles Duke of Albany and Earl of Ross. Mary was unpopular and her marriage in May to Jaime Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, suspected of murdering Henry, increased dissatisfaction. In June 1567, Protestant rebels arrested her at Lochleven Castle; she never saw her son again. She was forced to abdicate on July 24, 1567 in favor of Jaime and appoint her half-brother Jaime Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray, as regent.
James was placed in the care of the Earl and Countess of Mar, “to be preserved, nursed and reared” in the safety of Stirling Castle. He was crowned King of Scotland at the age of thirteen months by Adam Bothwell, Bishop of Orkney, at Holy Rude Church on July 29, 1567. The coronation sermon was preached by John Knox. In accordance with the religious beliefs of most of Scotland”s ruling class, James was raised as a member of the Protestant Church of Scotland. The Privy Council selected George Buchanan, Peter Young, Adam Erskine, and David Erskine as preceptors or tutors of the young king. As Jaime”s senior tutor, Buchanan subjected the boy to regular beatings, but also instilled in him an enormous passion for literature and learning. Buchanan tried to transform Jaime into a Protestant and God-fearing king, someone who accepted the limitations of monarchy.
In 1568, Mary escaped from her prison, leading to several years of sporadic violence. The Earl of Moray defeated the former queen”s troops at the Battle of Langside, forcing Mary to flee to England, where she was eventually imprisoned by Elizabeth. On January 23, 1570, Moray was assassinated by James Hamilton. James” next regent was his paternal grandfather, Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox, who a year later was fatally wounded at the entrance to Stirling Castle by Mary”s supporters. His successor, the Earl of Mar, “caught a vehement illness” and died on October 28, 1572. Mar”s illness occurred after a banquet at Dalkeith Palace, hosted by Jaime Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton.
Morton, who took over as Mar, proved in many ways the most efficient of Jaime”s regents, yet he made enemies for his ability. He fell out of favor when the Frenchman Esmé Stewart, Lord of Aubigny, cousin of James” father and future Earl of Lennox, arrived in Scotland and quickly established himself as the king”s first favorite. Morton was executed on June 2, 1581, belatedly accused of involvement in the murder of Lord Darnley. On August 8, Jaime made Lennox the only duke in Scotland. Then fifteen years old, the king would remain under Lennox”s influence for another year.
Scottish Calvinists did not trust Lennox, even though he was a converted Protestant, because they perceived physical displays of affection between him and the king, claiming that Lennox “attempted to lead the king into carnal concupiscence.” In August 1582, in what became known as the Ruthven Raid, the Protestant earls of Gowrie and Angus lured Jaime to Ruthven Castle and imprisoned him, forcing Lennox to flee Scotland. Jaime took increasing control of the kingdom after his release in June 1583. He forced the passage of the Black Acts to assert royal authority over the Church of Scotland and denounced Buchanan”s writings. Between 1584 and 1603, James established effective royal government and relative peace among the lords; he was ably assisted by John Maitland, who led the government until 1592. An eight-man commission, the Octavians, brought some control to the dire situation of Scottish finances in 1596, but was opposed by vested interests. It was disbanded after a riot in Edinburgh, started by anti-Catholics, forced the court to settle in Linlithgow temporarily. A final attempt on the king”s person occurred in August 1600, when James was apparently attacked by Alexander Ruthven, younger brother of the Earl of Gowrie, at Gowrie House in Ruthven. There were few eyewitnesses left as Ruthven was run by John Ramsay, Jaime”s page, and the earl was killed in the riot. Given the Ruthven”s history and that they owed the king a lot of money, Jaime”s account of what happened was not universally accepted.
In 1586, James signed the Treaty of Berwick with England. This, coupled with the execution of his mother the following year, which he found an “absurd and strange procedure,” helped pave the way for his succession in the other country. Queen Elizabeth I was not married and also had no children, so Jaime was her likely successor. Securing his ascension in England became one of the main points of his politics. During the Invincible Armada crisis in 1588, he assured Elizabeth of his support as “her natural son and countryman”.
Highlands and Islands
The forced dissolution of the Lordship of the Isles by James IV in 1483 led to unrest on the west coast. Although the king had subdued the organized army of the Hebrides, he and his successors lacked the will or ability to provide alternative forms of government. Thus, the 16th century became known as linn nan creach (“the time of raids”). In addition, the effects of religious reform were slow to impact the Gàidhealtachd, creating a religious wedge between this area and the centers of political control in the Central Belt. In 1540, James V traveled through the Hebrides, forcing clan chieftains to accompany him. A period of peace followed, but the clans were soon at odds again. During the reign of James VI, the transformation of the Hebrides” image as the cradle of Scottish Christianity to one in which its citizens were considered lawless barbarians was completed. Official documents describe the people of the region as “without the knowledge and fear of God,” who were prone to “all manner of barbarous and bestial cruelties.” The Scottish Gaelic language, spoken fluently by James IV and probably James V, became known in the time of James VI as “erse” (Irish), implying nature was foreign. Parliament concluded that it was the main cause of the Highlands” deficiencies and attempted to abolish it.
It was in this situation that in 1598, James VI authorized the “Gentlemen Adventurers of Fife” to civilize the “most barbarous Isle of Lewis.” the king wrote that the colonists should act “not by agreement” with the local inhabitants, but “by extirpation.” Their arrival in Stornoway was successful, however the colonists were driven out by local forces commanded by Murdoch and Nel MacLeod. A further attempt was made in 1605 with the same result, however the third in 1607 was more successful. The Statutes of Iona were enacted in 1609, making clan chiefs send their heirs to be educated in Protestant and English-speaking schools in the Lowlands, support Protestant ministers in Highland parishes, ban bards, and regularly report to Edinburgh to answer for their actions. Thus began a process “specifically aimed at the extirpation of the Gaelic language, the destruction of its traditional culture and the suppression of its bearers.”
In the Northern Isles, Patrick Stewart, 2nd Earl of Orkney, resisted the Statutes of Iona, eventually being imprisoned. His son Robert led an unsuccessful rebellion against Jaime, and both the earl and his son were hanged. His estates were confiscated and the Orkney and Shetland Islands annexed.
Jaime wrote The True Law of Free Monarchies and Basilikon Doron between 1597 and 1598, discussing the theological basis of monarchy. In the former, he asserts divine right, explaining that for biblical reasons kings are superior beings to other men, even though “the largest bench is the slipperiest to sit on.” The text proposes an absolutist theory for monarchy, in which a king can impose new laws by royal prerogative, but must also heed tradition and God, who “would incite scourges by pleasure for the punishment of wicked kings.” Basilikon Doron, written as an instruction book for Prince Henry Frederick, then four years old, provide a practical guide to being king. The work is regarded as very well written and the best example of Jaime”s prose. His advice on parliaments, which he understood only as the king”s “chief court,” foreshadows his difficulties with the commons of England: “Do not hold Parliaments,” he advises Henry, “but for the necessity of new Laws, which would be but seldom.” In True Law, James maintains that the king owns his kingdom as a feudal lord owns his fief, for kings arose “before any estates or ranks of men, before any parliaments were held, or laws created, and by them the land was distributed, which at first was entirely theirs. And thus follows the necessity that kings should be the authors and enforcers of the law, and not the laws of kings.”
In the 1580s and 1590s, James was concerned with promoting literature in Scotland. His dissertation, Some Rules and Cautions to be Observed and Eschewed in Scottish Prosody, published in 1584 when he was eighteen, was both a poetic manual and a description of the poetic tradition of Scots, his native language, applying Renaissance principles. He also made statutory provisions to reform and promote the teaching of music, seeing the two as interconnected.Jack, R.D.S. “Scottish Literature: ”1600 and All That””. Association for Scottish Literary Studies. Accessed September 11, 2013. Archived from the original on February 11, 2012 In pursuit of these goals, he was patron and head of a circle of Scottish Jacobite poets and musicians, the Band of Castile, which included individuals such as William Fowler and Alexander Montgomerie, later a favorite of the king. James, himself a poet, was happy to be seen as a member of the group. In the late 1590s, his defense of the Scottish tradition was somewhat hampered by the increasing prospect of inheriting the English crown; some of his court poets began to Anglicize their writing, going with him to London after 1603. His characteristic role as an active participant and patron at the Scottish court made him an important figure in English Renaissance poetry and drama, which would reach a peak during his reign. However, his patronage for the stylistics of his own Scottish tradition, a tradition that included his predecessor James I, was overlooked.
Since Elizabeth I was the last descendant of Henry VIII, James was seen as the likely heir to the English throne through his great-grandmother Margaret Tudor, Henry”s older sister. Beginning in 1601, in the last years of Elizabeth”s life, certain English politicians, notably Chief Minister Sir Robert Cecil, secretly corresponded with James in order to prepare for a smooth transition. In March 1603, with the queen clearly dying, Cecil sent James a draft proclamation of her ascension to the English throne. Elizabeth died in the early hours of March 24 and Jaime was proclaimed king in London the same day. He left Edinburgh on April 5, promising to return every three years (a promise he did not keep), and progressed slowly southward. Local lords received him with lavish hospitality, and the king marveled at the riches of his new land and subjects. James claimed to be “exchanging a stone couch for a deep feather bed.” At Cecil”s home in Hertfordshire, Theobalds House, such was his admiration that he bought the property there, arriving in the capital after Elizabeth”s funeral. His new subjects crowded in to see him, relieved that the succession had not triggered any unrest or invasions. Upon entering London on April 7, James was surrounded by a large crowd.
His coronation took place on July 25, with elaborate allegories created by dramatic poets such as Thomas Dekker and Ben Jonson. Although an outbreak of plague restricted the festivities, “the streets seemed paved with men,” as Dekker wrote, “stalls instead of rich merchandise were displayed with children, open frames filled with women.”
Although the transition went smoothly and the people welcomed him, James survived two conspiracies during his first year of reign, the Catholic Conspiracy and the Main Conspiracy, which led to the arrests of individuals such as Henry Brooke, 11th Baron Cobham, and Sir Walter Raleigh. Those who expected a change in government with Jaime were disappointed when the king retained the Privy Council of Elizabeth, as he had secretly planned with Cecil, however Jaime quickly added his supporter Henry Howard, nephew Thomas Howard and five Scottish nobles to the council. In the early years of his reign, the day-to-day running of the government was managed by Robert Cecil together with Thomas Egerton, whom Jaime later appointed as Lord Chancellor, and Thomas Sackville, who continued as Lord of the Exchequer. Thus, the king was free to concentrate on larger issues, such as how to create a greater union between England and Scotland and international affairs, as well as enjoying his hobbies, such as hunting.
James wanted to build on the personal union of the English and Scottish crowns and establish a single country with a single monarch, parliament, and set of laws, a plan that generated opposition in both kingdoms. “Has He not made us all on an island,” the king told the English parliament, “surrounded by a sea and Himself, by nature indivisible?” However, in April 1604, the commons refused on legal grounds his request to be called “King of Great Britain.” In October of the same year, he assumed the title by proclamation rather than by statute, although Sir Francis Bacon stated that he could not use it in “any legal proceeding, instrument, or warranty.”
In international affairs, James was more successful. Having never gone to war against Spain, he dedicated himself to bringing the long Anglo-Spanish War to a close; in August 1604, due to skillful diplomacy on the part of Cecil and Henry Howard, a peace agreement was signed between the two countries, and James celebrated with a great banquet. However, freedom of worship for Catholics in England remained a major goal for Spanish politics, creating constant dilemmas for the king, distrusted internationally for repressing Catholics while internally encouraged by the Privy Council to show less tolerance.
On the night of November 4 to 5, 1605, on the eve of the Opening Ceremony of Parliament of James” second session, the Catholic Guy Fawkes was discovered in the basements of the parliament building. He was tending a pile of wood not far from 36 barrels of gunpowder, with which he intended to blow up parliament the next day and cause the destruction of, in the words of James himself, “not only… my person, my wife”s, and also posterity, but also the whole organ of the state at large.” The sensational discovery of the Gunpowder Conspiracy, as it became known, aroused a sense of national relief, which Cecil exploited to extract the largest grant from parliament except for one guaranteed by Elizabeth I. Fawkes and the others implicated in the conspiracy were executed.
King and Parliament
The cooperation between James and parliament after the Gunpowder Conspiracy was atypical. The previous session of 1604 shaped the attitudes of both for the rest of the reign, although the initial difficulties were due to mutual misunderstanding rather than animosity. On July 7, 1604, the king furiously adjourned parliament after failing to gain support for financial grants and the full union of England and Scotland. “I will not give thanks where I feel it does not deserve thanks,” he stated in his closing speech, “…I am not of such actions as to praise fools…You will see how many things you have not done well…I wish you would make more modest use of your liberty in time to come.”
As James”s reign continued, his government faced increasing financial pressures, partially from creeping inflation, but also from the libertinism and financial incompetence of James”s court. In February 1610, Cecil proposed a scheme, known as the Great Contract, where Parliament, in exchange for royal concessions, would guarantee the sum of six hundred thousand pounds to pay the king”s debts in addition to an annual grant of two hundred thousand pounds. The thorny negotiations that followed became so protracted that the king eventually lost patience and dissolved parliament on December 31. “Your greatest mistake,” he told Cecil, “has been that you must never attract honey of gall.” The same pattern was repeated with the so-called “rotten parliament” of 1614, which he dissolved after only nine weeks when the commons hesitated to give him the money he wanted. James then reigned without a parliament until 1621, employing officials like the businessman Lionel Cranfield who were shrewd enough to raise and save money by selling titles and other honors, many created for that purpose, as alternative sources of income.
Another potential source of income was the prospect of a Spanish dowry from a marriage between Charles, Prince of Wales, and the Infanta Maria Ana of Spain. The policy of Spanish Marriage, as it was called, was also attractive to Jaime as a way to maintain peace with Spain and avoid extra costs with a war. Peace could be maintained with active negotiations and by consummation of the marriage – which may explain why Jaime kept the negotiations going for nearly a decade.
The policy was supported by Henry and Thomas Howard and other ministers and diplomats of Catholic leanings – together known as the Spanish Party – but they were not trusted by the Protestants. When Sir Walter Raleigh was released from prison in 1616, he went to look for gold in South America with clear instructions from Jaime not to enter into conflict with Spain. The expedition was a great failure and his son was killed fighting the Spanish. When Raleigh returned to England, Jaime had him executed, sparking public outrage, who were against appeasement with Spain. Jaime”s policies were further undermined by the outbreak of the Thirty Years” War, especially after his son-in-law Frederick V, Elector Palatine, was expelled in 1620 from Bohemia by the Catholic Ferdinand II, with Spanish troops invading Frederick”s home territory of the Rhineland at the same time. James finally convened a parliament the following year to finance a military expedition to help his son-in-law. On the one hand, the commons secured inadequate subsidies to fund serious military operations to Frederick”s aid, on the other – remembering the profits made from Elizabeth”s naval raids against Spanish gold shipments – they declared a war directly against Spain. In November 1621, led by Sir Edward Coke, the commons came up with a petition asking not only for a war against Spain but also for Charles to marry a Protestant, strengthening the anti-Catholic laws. Jaime categorically told them not to interfere in matters of royal prerogative or they could take punishment, which caused them to publish a statement protesting for their rights, which included freedom of speech. Under pressure from Jorge Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham and the Spanish ambassador Diego Sarmiento de Acuña, Jaime pulled the protest from the record book and dissolved parliament.
In early 1623, Charles and Villiers decided to act on their own and travel to Spain in secret in order to win Mary Anne directly, however the mission was a huge failure. She detested Charles and the Spaniards confronted them with terms that included the anti-Catholic laws passed by parliament. Even with a treaty being signed, the prince and duke returned to England in October and quickly renounced the agreement, greatly cheering the English people. Disillusioned, the two ignored Jaime”s Spanish policy and called for a French marriage and war against the Habsburg empire. To raise the necessary funds, they prevailed upon the king to summon another parliament, which met in February 1624. For the first time, the great anti-Catholic sentiment of the commons echoed at court, where control of politics was leaving Jaime and passing to Charles and Villiers, who pressured the king to declare war and planned the removal of Cranfield when he opposed the plans because of the costs. The outcome of parliament was ambiguous: James refused to declare war, yet Charles believed that the commons were committed to funding a war against Spain, a situation that contributed to his problems with parliament during his own reign.
King and church
After the Gunpowder Conspiracy, James sanctioned severe measures to control non-conformist English Catholics. In May 1606, parliament passed the Papist Refusal Act, which would force all citizens to take an oath of allegiance denying the pope”s authority over the king. James was conciliatory with the Catholics who took the oath, tolerating secret Catholicism even within his court. Henry Howard, for example, was secretly Catholic and was welcomed back into the Roman Apostolic Church in his final months. Upon assuming the English throne, James, suspecting that he would need the support of England”s Catholics, assured the Earl of Northumberland, a sympathizer of the old religion, that he would not persecute “anyone who is discreet and helpful, but an outward obedience to the law.”
In the Millennial Petition of 1603, the Puritan clergy demanded, among other things, that confirmation, wedding rings, and the term “priest” be abolished, and that the wearing of the cap and surplice become optional. James was initially strict in enforcing conformity, inducing a sense of persecution among many Puritans; but expulsions and suspensions became less frequent as the reign continued. As a result of the Hampton Court Conference in 1604, a new translation and compilation of the approved books of the Bible were commissioned to resolve issues of the different translations. The King James Version (or James), as it became known, was completed in 1611 and is considered a masterpiece of Jacobite prose and is still widely used.
In Scotland, James attempted to bring the Scottish church “as close as possible” to the Anglican Church in order to re-establish the episcopate, a policy that faced great opposition from the Presbyterians. In 1617, for the only time since he had assumed the English throne, James returned to Scotland in the hope of implementing Anglican rituals. The king”s bishops imposed their Five Articles of Perth on the General Assembly the following year, but the decisions were widely resisted. James would leave the Church of Scotland divided at his death, creating a source of trouble for his son.
Throughout his life James had close relationships with male courtiers, causing debate among historians about their natures. After his ascension in England, his peaceful and scholarly attitude contrasted with Elizabeth”s bellicose and seductive behavior, something indicated by the contemporary epigram Rex fuit Elizabeth, nunc est regina Jacobus (“Elizabeth was the king, now James is the queen”). Some of her biographers conclude that Esmé Stewart (later Duke of Lennox), Roberto Carr (later Earl of Somerset) and Jorge Villiers (later Duke of Buckingham) were her lovers. The restoration of Apethorpe Hall, carried out between 2004 and 2008, revealed a previously unknown passage connecting Jaime and Villiers” bedrooms. Others claim that the relations were not sexual. Jaime”s Basilikon Doron lists sodomy as a crime that “you are in the duty of conscience never to forgive,” and Anne of Denmark bore the king seven children, as well as suffering at least three miscarriages and having two stillbirths.
When Robert Cecil died in 1612, there was little lamentation by those vying to assume the now vacant power. Until his death, the Elizabethan administrative system over which he presided continued to function with relative efficiency; afterwards, however, James” rule entered a period of decline and disrepute. Cecil”s death gave the king the notion of ruling in person as his own Minister of State, with Carr taking over many of Cecil”s functions. However, Jaime”s inability to attend closely to official matters exposed the factionalism of the government.
Henry Howard”s party soon took control of much of the government and its patronage. Even the powerful Carr, ill-prepared for the responsibilities placed upon him, and often dependent on his close friend Sir Thomas Overbury for help with government paperwork, fell into Howard”s camp after beginning an affair with the married Francisca Howard, whose marriage Jaime helped get annulled so that he could marry Carr. However, in the summer of 1615, it emerged that Overbury, who died on September 15, 1613 in the Tower of London, where he was at the king”s request, Among those convicted of the murder were Francisca and Roberto Carr, the latter having already been replaced as the king”s favorite by Villiers. James pardoned Francisca and commuted Carr”s sentence, eventually pardoning him in 1624. The king”s implication in such a scandal caused many public and literary conjunctures, as well as tainting Jaime”s court with an image of corruption and depravity. The subsequent fall of the Howard”s left Villiers with no opponents in 1619 as the supreme figure in government.
Around the age of fifty, Jaime began to suffer increasingly from arthritis, gout, and kidney stones. He lost his teeth and drank heavily. During his last year of life, with Villiers having consolidated his control over Charles to secure his own future, the king was often very ill, becoming an increasingly peripheral figure and rarely visiting London. One theory says that Jaime could have been suffering from porphyria, a disease of which his descendant George III of Britain exhibited symptoms. Jaime described his urine to physician Théodore de Mayerne as being “dark red in coloration from Alicante wine.” Some experts do not accept this theory: Jaime already had kidney stones, which can carry blood to the urine and make it reddish.
In early 1625, Jaime was taken by a series of attacks of arthritis, gout, and fainting, becoming seriously ill in March with chills and then a stroke. James VI & I died at Theobalds House on March 27 during a violent attack of dysentery, with Villiers by his side.Willson 1963, pp. 445-47 His funeral, a magnificent and disorganized event, took place on May 7. Bishop John Williams of Lincoln preached the sermon, saying that “King Solomon died in Peace, when he had lived about sixty years…and so you know did King James.”
James was buried in Westminster Abbey. The exact position of his grave was lost for several centuries. In the 19th century, after excavation of many of the graves beneath the ground, his coffin was found in Henry VII”s grave.
Jaime”s death was much mourned. Even with his faults, he retained great affection in his people, who enjoyed uninterrupted peace and comparatively lower rates during the Jacobite Era. “As he lived in peace,” wrote Thomas Erskine, “he also died in peace, and I pray God that our King Erskine prayed in vain: in power, Charles and Villiers sanctioned a series of reckless military expeditions that ended in humiliating defeats. James often neglected the tasks of government in favor of leisurely pastimes such as hunting; his subsequent reliance on male favorites in a scandal-ridden court undermined the respected image of monarchy painstakingly built by Elizabeth I. According to a tradition that emerged with anti-Stuart historians in the 17th century, James” taste for political absolutism, his financial irresponsibility, and cultivation of unpopular favorites laid the foundations for the English Civil War. James placed in his successor son a fatal belief in the divine right of kings, along with a disdain for parliament, which culminated in the execution of Charles and the abolition of the monarchy.
In the last three hundred years, the king”s reputation suffered from unfavorable descriptions by sir Anthony Weldon, whom Jaime had expelled and wrote dissertations on the king in the 1650s. Other anti-Jaime accounts written in the same decade include Divine Catastrophe of the Kingly Family of the House of Stuarts by sir Edward Peyton, History of Great Britain, Being the Life and Reign of King James I by Arthur Wilson, and Historical Memoirs of the Reigns of Queen Elizabeth and King James by Francis Osborne. The 1956 biography written by David Harris Willson continues this hostility. In the words of historian Jenny Wormald, Willson”s book was a “startling spectacle of a work whose pages proclaimed its author”s ever-increasing hatred of the subject.” Since Willson, however, the stability of James” rule in Scotland and the beginning of his reign in England, and his relatively enlightened views on religion and war, have earned him a reappraisal that has rescued his reputation from criticism.
In his reign, Uster”s Plantation was started by English and Scottish Protestants and the colonization of America was initiated with the founding of Jamestown in 1607. Cuper”s Cove, Newfoundland, came next in 1610. Over the next 150 years, England would fight Spain, the Netherlands and France for control of the continent. By fighting for something greater than just a personal union between England and Scotland, James helped establish the foundations of a single British sovereign state.
Titles and Styles
In Scotland, his title was “James the Sixth, King of Scotland” until 1604. He was proclaimed “James the First, King of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith” in London on March 24, 1603. On October 20, 1604, James issued a proclamation at Westminster changing his titles to “King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc.” The title was not used in English statutes, but was used in proclamations, coins, letters, treaties, and in Scotland.
Coats of arms
As King of Scotland, Jaime bore the ancient coat of arms of Scotland: or, a lion rampant armed goles and sole azure within a double treassure goles. The mounts are two armed, crested, proper hoofed unicorns argent, stuffed with a coronet or composed of crosses patée and fleurs-de-lis with a chain also or affixed passing between the front paws and reflexed on the hind paws. The timbre was a lion goles sejant affrontée, imperially crowned or, holding in one paw a sword and in the other an erect and proper scepter.
The Union of the Crowns of England and Scotland under James was symbolized heraldically by combining their coats of arms, mounts, and emblems. The dispute over how the coats of arms should be combined, and which kingdom would take precedence, was resolved by having different coats of arms in each country.
The coat of arms used in England was: squat, I and IV, squat 1st and 4th azure, three fleurs-de-lis (II or, a lion rampant within a tressure goles (III azure, a harp or with argent strings (for Ireland, this being the first time Ireland was included in the royal coat of arms). The mounts were a rampant lion guardant or imperially crowned and the unicorn of Scotland. The unicorn replaced the red dragon of Cadwaladr, which was introduced by the Tudors. The English timbre and motto were retained. The compartment had the Tudor rose with clover and thistle grafted onto the same stem.
His coat of arms in Scotland became: Esquatrel, I and IV Scotland; II England and France; III Ireland, with Scotland taking precedence over England. The mounts were the unicorn of Scotland imperially crowned holding an azure banner with a saltire argente cross (St. Andrew”s Cross) and a crowned lion holding a similar spear with an argente banner and a goles cross (following tradition, the motto In defens was placed above the crest.
As royal emblems, James used the Tudor rose, the thistle (for Scotland, first used by James III) the Tudor rose cut in half by the thistle topped by the royal crown, the harp (for Ireland) and the fleur-de-lis (for France).
Jaime and Anne of Denmark had seven children who survived birth, three of whom came of age: