James I as King of Scotland
The family of James. Rule in Scotland. Marriage. Highlands and islands. Accession in Englang. Early reign in England. The cooperation between monarch and Parliament. Spanish match. King and church. Favourites. The last years of the life of the monarch.
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james monarch scotland
James was the only son of Mary, Queen of Scots, and her second husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. Both Mary and Darnley were great-grandchildren of Henry VII of England through Margaret Tudor, the older sister of Henry VIII. Mary's rule over Scotland was insecure, for both she and her husband, being Roman Catholics, faced a rebellion by Protestant noblemen. During Mary's and Darnley's difficult marriage, Darnley secretly allied himself with the rebels and conspired in the murder of the Queen's private secretary, David Rizzio, just three months before James's birth. James was born on 19 June 1566 at Edinburgh Castle, and as the eldest son and heir apparent of the monarch automatically became Duke of Rothesay and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland. He was baptised "Charles James" on 17 December 1566 in a Catholic ceremony held at Stirling Castle. His godparents were Charles IX of France (represented by John, Count of Brienne), Elizabeth I of England (represented by the Earl of Bedford), and Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy (represented by ambassador Philibert du Croc). Mary refused to let the Archbishop of St Andrews, whom she referred to as "a pocky priest", spit in the child's mouth, as was then the custom. The English guests were offended by the subsequent entertainment, which was devised by Frenchman Bastian Pagez and depicted them as satyrs with tails.
James's father, Darnley, was murdered on 10 February 1567 at Kirk o' Field, Edinburgh, perhaps in revenge for Rizzio's death. James inherited his father's titles of Duke of Albany and Earl of Ross. Mary was already unpopular, and her marriage on 15 May 1567 to James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, who was widely suspected of murdering Darnley, heightened widespread bad feeling towards her.In June 1567, Protestant rebels arrested Mary and imprisoned her in Loch Leven Castle; she never saw her son again. She was forced to abdicate on 24 July 1567 in favour of the infant James and to appoint her illegitimate half-brother, James Stewart, Earl of Moray, as regent.
2. Rule in Scotland
Although a Protestant convert, Lennox was distrusted by Scottish Calvinists, who noticed the physical displays of affection between favourite and king and alleged that Lennox "went about to draw the King to carnal lust". In August 1582, in what became known as the Ruthven Raid, the Protestant earls of Gowrie and Angus lured James into Ruthven Castle, imprisoned him, and forced Lennox to leave Scotland. After James was liberated in June 1583, he assumed increasing control of his kingdom. He pushed through the Black Acts to assert royal authority over the Kirk, and denounced the writings of his former tutor Buchanan. Between 1584 and 1603, he established effective royal government and relative peace among the lords, ably assisted by John Maitland of Thirlestane, who led the government until 1592. An eight-man commission, known as the Octavians, brought some control over the ruinous state of James's finances in 1596, but it drew opposition from vested interests. It was disbanded within a year after a riot in Edinburgh, stoked by anti-Catholicism, led the court to withdraw to Linlithgow temporarily.
One last Scottish attempt against the king's person occurred in August 1600, when James was apparently assaulted by Alexander Ruthven, the Earl of Gowrie's younger brother, at Gowrie House, the seat of the Ruthvens. Since Ruthven was run through by James's page John Ramsay and the Earl of Gowrie was himself killed in the ensuing fracas, there were few surviving witnesses. Given his history with the Ruthvens, and that he owed them a great deal of money, James's account of the circumstances was not universally believed.
In 1586, James signed the Treaty of Berwick with England. That and the execution of his mother in 1587, which he denounced as a "preposterous and strange procedure", helped clear the way for his succession south of the border. Queen Elizabeth was unmarried and childless, and James was her most likely successor. Securing the English succession became a cornerstone of his policy. During the Spanish Armada crisis of 1588, he assured Elizabeth of his support as "your natural son and compatriot of your country".
Throughout his youth, James was praised for his chastity, since he showed little interest in women. After the loss of Lennox, he continued to prefer male company. A suitable marriage, however, was necessary to reinforce his monarchy, and the choice fell on the fourteen-year-old Anne of Denmark, younger daughter of the Protestant Frederick II. Shortly after a proxy marriage in Copenhagen in August 1589, Anne sailed for Scotland but was forced by storms to the coast of Norway. On hearing the crossing had been abandoned, James, in what Willson calls "the one romantic episode of his life", sailed from Leith with a three-hundred-strong retinue to fetch Anne personally. The couple were married formally at the Bishop's Palace in Oslo on 23 November and, after stays at Elsinore and Copenhagen and a meeting with Tycho Brahe, returned to Scotland on 1 May 1590. By all accounts, James was at first infatuated with Anne, and in the early years of their marriage seems always to have showed her patience and affection. The royal couple produced three children who survived to adulthood: Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, who died of typhoid fever in 1612, aged 18; Elizabeth, later queen of Bohemia; and Charles, his successor. Anne died before her husband in March 1619.
4.HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS
The forcible dissolution of the Lordship of the Isles by James IV in 1493 had led to troubled times for the western seaboard. Although the king had subdued the organised military might of the Hebrides, he and his immediate successors lacked the will or ability to provide an alternative form of governance. As a result the 16th century became known as linn nan creach - the time of raids. Furthermore, the effects of the Reformation were slow to impact the Gаidhealtachd, driving a religious wedge between this area and centres of political control in the Central Belt. In 1540 James V had toured the Hebrides, forcing the clan chiefs to accompany him. There followed a period of peace, but the clans were soon at loggerheads with one another again. During James VI's reign the transformation of the 15th century image of the Hebrides as the cradle of Scottish Christianity and nationhood into one in which its citizens were regarded as lawless barbarians was complete. Official documents describe the peoples of the Highlands as "void of the knawledge and feir of God" who were prone to "all kynd of barbarous and bestile cruelteis". The Gaelic language, spoken fluently by James IV and probably by James V, became known in the time of James VI as "Erse" or Irish, implying that it was foreign in nature. The Scottish Parliament decided it had become a principal cause of the Highlanders' shortcomings and sought to abolish it.
It was against this background that in 1598 James VI authorised the "Gentleman Adventurers of Fife" to civilise the "most barbarous Isle of Lewis". James wrote that the colonists were to act "not by agreement" with the local inhabitants, but "by extirpation of thame". Their landing at Stornoway was initially successful, but the colonists were driven out by local forces commanded by Murdoch and Neil MacLeod. The colonists tried again in 1605 with the same result although a third attempt in 1607 was more successful. The Statutes of Iona were enacted in 1609, which required clan chiefs to: send their heirs to Lowland Scotland to be educated in English-speaking Protestant schools; provide support for Protestant ministers to Highland Parishes; outlaw bards; and regularly report to Edinburgh to answer for their actions. So 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, James's cousin Patrick Stewart, Earl of Orkney, resisted the Statutes of Iona, and was consequently imprisoned. His natural son, Robert, led an unsuccessful rebellion against James, and both the Earl and his son were hanged. Their estates were forfeited, and the Orkney and Shetland islands were annexed to the Crown.
5. ACCESSION IN ENGLANG
As Elizabeth I was the last of Henry VIII's descendants, James was seen as the most likely heir to the English throne through his great-grandmother Margaret Tudor, who was Henry VIII's oldest sister. From 1601, in the last years of Elizabeth I's life, certain English politicians, notably her chief minister Sir Robert Cecil, maintained a secret correspondence with James to prepare in advance for a smooth succession. In March 1603, with the Queen clearly dying, Cecil sent James a draft proclamation of his accession to the English throne. Elizabeth died in the early hours of 24 March, and James was proclaimed king in London later the same day. On 5 April, James left Edinburgh for London, promising to return every three years (a promise he did not keep), and progressed slowly southwards. Local lords received him with lavish hospitality along the route and James was amazed by the wealth of his new land and subjects. James said he was 'swapping a stony couch for a deep feather bed'. At Cecil's house, Theobalds, Hertfordshire, James was so in awe, he bought it there and then, arriving in the capital after Elizabeth's funeral. His new subjects flocked to see him, relieved that the succession had triggered neither unrest nor invasion. When he entered London on 7 May, he was mobbed by a crowd of spectators.
His English coronation took place on 25 July, with elaborate allegories provided by dramatic poets such as Thomas Dekker and Ben Jonson. Even though an outbreak of plague restricted festivities, "the streets seemed paved with men," wrote Dekker. "Stalls instead of rich wares were set out with children, open casements filled up with women".
The kingdom to which James succeeded was, however, not without its problems. Monopolies and taxation had engendered a widespread sense of grievance, and the costs of war in Ireland had become a heavy burden on the government. By the time of his success
6. EARLY REIGN IN ENGLAND
Despite the smoothness of the succession and the warmth of his welcome, James survived two conspiracies in the first year of his reign, the Bye Plot and Main Plot, which led to the arrest, among others, of Lord Cobham and Sir Walter Raleigh. Those hoping for governmental change from James were at first disappointed when he maintained Elizabeth's Privy Councillors in office, as secretly planned with Cecil, but James shortly added long-time supporter Henry Howard and his nephew Thomas Howard to the Privy Council, as well as five Scottish nobles. In the early years of James's reign, the day-to-day running of the government was tightly managed by the shrewd Robert Cecil, later Earl of Salisbury, ably assisted by the experienced Thomas Egerton, whom James made Baron Ellesmere and Lord Chancellor, and by Thomas Sackville, soon Earl of Dorset, who continued as Lord Treasurer. As a consequence, James was free to concentrate on bigger issues, such as a scheme for a closer union between England and Scotland and matters of foreign policy, as well as to enjoy his leisure pursuits, particularly hunting.
James was ambitious to build on the personal union of the Crowns of Scotland and England to establish a single country under one monarch, one parliament and one law, a plan which met opposition in both realms. "Hath He not made us all in one island," James told the English parliament, "compassed with one sea and of itself by nature indivisible?" In April 1604, however, the Commons refused on legal grounds his request to be titled "King of Great Britain". In October 1604, he assumed the title "King of Great Britain" by proclamation rather than statute, though Sir Francis Bacon told him he could not use the style in "any legal proceeding, instrument or assurance".
In foreign policy, James achieved more success. Never having been at war with Spain, he devoted his efforts to bringing the long Anglo-Spanish War to an end, and in August 1604, thanks to skilled diplomacy on the part of Robert Cecil and Henry Howard, now Earl of Northampton, a peace treaty was signed between the two countries, which James celebrated by hosting a great banquet. Freedom of worship for Catholics in England continued, however, to be a major objective of Spanish policy, causing constant dilemmas for James, distrusted abroad for repression of Catholics while at home being encouraged by the Privy Council to show even less tolerance towards them.
7. KING AND PARLIAMENT
james monarch scotland
The cooperation between monarch and Parliament following the Gunpowder Plot was atypical. Instead, it was the previous session of 1604 that shaped the attitudes of both sides for the rest of the reign, though the initial difficulties owed more to mutual incomprehension than conscious enmity. On 7 July 1604, James had angrily prorogued Parliament after failing to win its support either for full union or financial subsidies. "I will not thank where I feel no thanks due", he had remarked in his closing speech. "... I am not of such a stock as to praise fools ... You see how many things you did not well ... I wish you would make use of your liberty with more modesty in time to come".
As James's reign progressed, his government faced growing financial pressures, due partly to creeping inflation but also to the profligacy and financial incompetence of James's court. In February 1610, Salisbury proposed a scheme, known as the Great Contract, whereby Parliament, in return for ten royal concessions, would grant a lump sum of Ј600,000 to pay off the king's debts plus an annual grant of Ј200,000. The ensuing prickly negotiations became so protracted that James eventually lost patience and dismissed Parliament on 31 December 1610. "Your greatest error", he told Salisbury, "hath been that ye ever expected to draw honey out of gall". The same pattern was repeated with the so-called "Addled Parliament" of 1614, which James dissolved after a mere nine weeks when the Commons hesitated to grant him the money he required. James then ruled without parliament until 1621, employing officials such as the businessman Lionel Cranfield, who were astute at raising and saving money for the crown, and sold earldoms and other dignities, many created for the purpose, as an alternative source of income.
8. SPANISH MATCH
Another potential source of income was the prospect of a Spanish dowry from a marriage between Charles, Prince of Wales, and Infanta Maria Anna of Spain. The policy of the Spanish Match, as it was called, was also attractive to James as a way to maintain peace with Spain and avoid the additional costs of a war. Peace could be maintained as effectively by keeping the negotiations alive as by consummating the match--which may explain why James protracted the negotiations for almost a decade.
The policy was supported by the Howards and other Catholic-leaning ministers and diplomats--together known as the Spanish Party--but deeply distrusted in Protestant England. When Sir Walter Raleigh was released from his imprisonment in 1616, he embarked on a hunt for gold in South America with strict instructions from James not to engage the Spanish. Raleigh's expedition was a disastrous failure, and his son was killed fighting the Spanish. On Raleigh's return to England, James had him executed to the indignation of the public, who opposed the appeasement of Spain. James's policy was further jeopardised by the outbreak of the Thirty Years' War, especially after his Protestant son-in-law, Frederick V, Elector Palatine, was ousted from Bohemia by the Catholic Emperor Ferdinand II in 1620, and Spanish troops simultaneously invaded Frederick's Rhineland home territory. Matters came to a head when James finally called a Parliament in 1621 to fund a military expedition in support of his son-in-law. The Commons on the one hand granted subsidies inadequate to finance serious military operations in aid of Frederick, and on the other--remembering the profits gained under Elizabeth by naval attacks on Spanish gold shipments--called for a war directly against Spain. In November 1621, roused by Sir Edward Coke, they framed a petition asking not only for war with Spain but also for Prince Charles to marry a Protestant, and for enforcement of the anti-Catholic laws. James flatly told them not to interfere in matters of royal prerogative or they would risk punishment, which provoked them into issuing a statement protesting their rights, including freedom of speech. Urged on by the Duke of Buckingham and the Spanish ambassador Gondomar, James ripped the protest out of the record book and dissolved Parliament.
In early 1623, Prince Charles, now 22, and Buckingham decided to seize the initiative and travel to Spain incognito, to win the Infanta directly, but the mission proved an ineffectual mistake. The Infanta detested Charles, and the Spanish confronted them with terms that included the repeal of anti-Catholic legislation by Parliament. Though a treaty was signed, the prince and duke returned to England in October without the Infanta and immediately renounced the treaty, much to the delight of the British people. Disillusioned by the visit to Spain, Charles and Buckingham now turned James's Spanish policy upon its head and called for a French match and a war against the Habsburg empire. To raise the necessary finance, they prevailed upon James to call another Parliament, which met in February 1624. For once, the outpouring of anti-Catholic sentiment in the Commons was echoed in court, where control of policy was shifting from James to Charles and Buckingham, who pressured the king to declare war and engineered the impeachment of Lord Treasurer Lionel Cranfield, by now made Earl of Middlesex, when he opposed the plan on grounds of cost. The outcome of the Parliament of 1624 was ambiguous: James still refused to declare war, but Charles believed the Commons had committed themselves to finance a war against Spain, a stance which was to contribute to his problems with Parliament in his own reign.
9. KING AND CHURCH
After the Gunpowder Plot, James sanctioned harsh measures for controlling non-conforming English Catholics. In May 1606, Parliament passed the Popish Recusants Act which could require any citizen to take an Oath of Allegiance denying the Pope's authority over the king. James was conciliatory towards Catholics who took the Oath of Allegiance, and tolerated crypto-Catholicism even at court. Henry Howard, for example, was a crypto-Catholic, received back into the Church of Rome in his final months. On ascending the English throne, James, suspecting he might need the support of Catholics in England, had assured the Earl of Northumberland, a prominent sympathiser of the old religion, that he would not persecute "any that will be quiet and give but an outward obedience to the law".
In the Millenary Petition of 1603, the Puritan clergy demanded, among other things, the abolition of confirmation, wedding rings, and the term "priest", and that the wearing of cap and surplice become optional. James was at first strict in enforcing conformity, inducing a sense of persecution amongst many Puritans; but ejections and suspensions from livings became fewer as the reign continued. As a result of the Hampton Court Conference of 1604, a new translation and compilation of approved books of the Bible was commissioned to resolve issues with different translations then being used. The Authorised King James Version, as it came to be known, was completed in 1611 and is considered a masterpiece of Jacobean prose. It is still in widespread use.
In Scotland, James attempted to bring the Scottish kirk "so neir as can be" to the English church and to reestablish episcopacy, a policy which met with strong opposition from presbyterians. In 1617, for the only time after his accession in England, James returned to Scotland in the hope of implementing Anglican ritual. James's bishops forced his Five Articles of Perth through a General Assembly the following year; but the rulings were widely resisted. James was to leave the church in Scotland divided at his death, a source of future problems for his son.
Throughout his life James had close relationships with male courtiers, which has caused debate among historians about their nature. After his accession in England, his peaceful and scholarly attitude contrasted strikingly with the bellicose and flirtatious behaviour of Elizabeth, as indicated by the contemporary epigram Rex fuit Elizabeth, nunc est regina Jacobus (Elizabeth was King, now James is Queen). Some of James's biographers conclude that Esmй Stewart (later Duke of Lennox), Robert Carr (later Earl of Somerset), and George Villiers (later Duke of Buckingham) were his lovers. Restoration of Apethorpe Hall, undertaken in 2004-08, revealed a previously unknown passage linking the bedchambers of James and Villiers. Others argue that the relationships were not sexual. James's Basilikon Doron lists sodomy among crimes "ye are bound in conscience never to forgive", and James's wife Anne gave birth to seven live children, as well as suffering two stillbirths and at least three other miscarriages.
When the Earl of Salisbury died in 1612, he was little mourned by those who jostled to fill the power vacuum. Until Salisbury's death, the Elizabethan administrative system over which he had presided continued to function with relative efficiency; from this time forward, however, James's government entered a period of decline and disrepute. Salisbury's passing gave James the notion of governing in person as his own chief Minister of State, with his young Scottish favourite, Robert Carr, carrying out many of Salisbury's former duties, but James's inability to attend closely to official business exposed the government to factionalism.
The Howard party, consisting of Northampton, Suffolk, Suffolk's son-in-law Lord Knollys, and Charles Howard, Earl of Nottingham, along with Sir Thomas Lake, soon took control of much of the government and its patronage. Even the powerful Carr, hardly experienced for the responsibilities thrust upon him and often dependent on his intimate friend Sir Thomas Overbury for assistance with government papers, fell into the Howard camp, after beginning an affair with the married Frances Howard, Countess of Essex, daughter of the Earl of Suffolk, whom James assisted in securing an annulment of her marriage to free her to marry Carr. In summer 1615, however, it emerged that Overbury, who on 15 September 1613 had died in the Tower of London, where he had been placed at the King's request, had been poisoned. Among those convicted of the murder were Frances and Robert Carr, the latter having been replaced as the king's favourite in the meantime by Villiers. James pardoned Frances and commuted Carr's sentence of death, eventually pardoning him in 1624. The implication of the King in such a scandal provoked much public and literary conjecture and irreparably tarnished James's court with an image of corruption and depravity. The subsequent downfall of the Howards left Villiers unchallenged as the supreme figure in the government by 1619.
After about the age of fifty, James suffered increasingly from arthritis, gout and kidney stones. He also lost his teeth, and drank heavily. During the last year of James's life, with Buckingham consolidating his control of Charles to ensure his own future, the king was often seriously ill, leaving him an increasingly peripheral figure, rarely able to visit London. One theory is that James may have suffered from porphyria, a disease of which his descendant George III of the United Kingdom exhibited some symptoms. James described his urine to physician Thйodore de Mayerne as being the "dark red colour of Alicante wine". The theory is dismissed by some experts, particularly in James's case, because he had kidney stones, which can lead to blood in the urine, colouring it red.
In early 1625, James was plagued by severe attacks of arthritis, gout and fainting fits, and in March fell seriously ill with tertian ague and then suffered a stroke. James finally died at Theobalds House on 27 March during a violent attack of dysentery, with Buckingham at his bedside. James's funeral, a magnificent but disorderly affair, took place on 7 May. Bishop John Williams of Lincoln preached the sermon, observing, "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 position of the tomb was lost for several centuries. In the 19th century, following an excavation of many of the vaults beneath the floor, the lead coffin was found in the Henry VII vault.
2. Bucholz, Robert; Key, Newton (2004). Early Modern England, 1485-1714: A Narrative History. Oxford: Blackwell.
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