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James VI of Scotland (June 19, 1566 - March 27, 1625, reigned July 24, 1567 - March 27, 1625) and James I of England and Ireland (reigned March 24, 1603-March 27, 1625) was the first king of both England and Scotland. He also held the title of King of France as had all his predecessors in the English throne since October 21, 1422 although by his time the title didn't come with an active claim of this throne. His own successors would hold the title till the 1801 Act of Union. James succeeded Elizabeth I as the closest living relative of the unmarried childless English monarch, through his descent from one of Henry VIII's sisters. He is notable for having signed the Petition of Right (1628), dissolving the Parliament (1629), and appointing Archbishop Laud (1633).

James VI
King of Scotland from 1567
James I
King of England, Ireland from 1603

James became king of Scotland on July 24, 1567, at the age of 13 months, after his mother Mary, Queen of Scots was forced to abdicate. She fled to England, where she was imprisoned for the next 19 years. His father, Lord Darnley, had died in mysterious circumstances shortly after James was born. James was formally crowned at the Church of the Holy Rood, Stirling on July 29, 1567. In accordance to the religious atmosphere of the time, he was bought up as a Scottish Presbyterian, though his mother had been a Roman Catholic.

James inherited the throne of England after the death of his mother's cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. He was never a very popular monarch in England and laid much of the groundwork that would eventually lead to the beheading of his heir Charles I during the English Civil War, but because of his political skills, his rule was relatively stable.

James married Anne of Denmark by proxy on August 20, 1589, and in person on November 23, 1589 and again in person in January 21, 1590. They had eight children, of whom only seven survived long enough to be named -- only three lived beyond infancy:

The eldest, Henry Stuart, became Prince of Wales when James VI was invited to take the English throne following the death of Queen Elizabeth I. But Henry died in 1612, and James's second son, Charles, succeeded James on the throne as King Charles I, in 1625. James's daughter, Elizabeth Stuart (1596-1662), married Frederick V, Elector Palatine. After the Battle of White Mountain, the couple went into exile and were known as the "Winter King" and "Winter Queen", taking up residence in The Hague.

James dissolved the English Parliament on February 8, 1622, following a dispute involving parliamentary criticisms of a marriage proposed by James, of his son Charles to Princess Maria Anna of Spain[?].

King James is considered to have been one of the most intellectual and learned individuals ever to sit on any English, Scottish or British throne, and as a partial result, much of the cultural flourishing of Elizabethan England continued. He is also remembered for authorizing the production of the King James Version of the Bible, the highly popular English translation from Greek and Hebrew; beyond that, he wrote several books himself. However, he lacked Elizabeth's business skills. Some historians have suggested that the economy suffered.

Table of contents

'Queen James'

One area of James VI/I's life that for many years remained clouded in controversy was allegations that James in fact homosexual. While his close relationships with a number of men were noted, earlier historians questioned their sexual nature. Few modern historians cast any doubt on the King's homosexuality and the fact that his sexuality and choice of male partners both as King of Scotland then later in London as King of England were the subject of gossip from the taverns to the Privy Council. His relationship as a teenager with fellow teenager Esmé Stuart, Seigneur d'Aubigny, Earl of Lennox was criticised by Scottish church leaders, who were part of a conspiracy to keep the young King and the young French courtier apart. Lennox, facing threats of death, was forced to leave Scotland. In the 1580s, King James openly kissed Francis Stewart Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell. Contemporary sources clearly hinted their relationship as sexual. When James inherited the English throne from Queen Elizabeth I in 1603, it was openly joked of the new English monarch in London that Rex fuit Elizabeth: nunc est regina Jacobus (Elizabeth was King: now James is Queen.)

Historians have debated whether James was unwise in his choice of male partner; from page-boy turned Gentleman of the Bedchamber Robert Carr (made Earl of Sommerset) to royal cupbearer turned Earl of Buckingham, George Villiers, whose relationship with the King was discussed at the Privy Council (James called Villiers his 'wife' and he Villiers' 'husband'.) Buckingham in particular came to play a major part in the governance of the English kingdom, though historians differ on whether Buckingham's impact was positive or negative.

James VI/I died in 1625 of gout and senility and is buried in the Henry VII chapel in Westminster Abbey. When on 23 August 1628 Buckingham was assassinated, he was buried in a tomb to King James' right in the Henry VII chapel. Another of James' male favourites was buried in a tomb on the King's left.


  • "Monarchy is the greatest thing on earth. Kings are rightly called gods since just like God they have power of life and death over all their subjects in all things. They are accountable to God only ... so it is a crime for anyone to argue about what a king can do" [1] (http://www.autodidactproject.org/other/PKCS)
  • "Kings...have power of raising and casting down, of life and death, judges over all their subjects...and yet accountable to none but God only."
  • "A Scotch Presbytery agreeth as well with monarchy as God with the devil. Then Jack and Tom and Will and Dick shall meet, and at their pleasure censure me and my council...Until you find that I grow lazy, let that alone..."

Additional Reading

  • Fraser, Antonia. King James VI of Scotland and James I of England (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1974)
  • Lee, Maurice. England's Solomon: James VI and I in his Three Kingdoms (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990)
  • G.P.V. (ed.). Letters of King James VI & I. (Berkeley : University of California Press, 1984)
  • Young, Michael B. King James and the History of Homosexuality. (New York : New York University Press, 2000)

External links

Preceded on the English throne by:
Elizabeth I
List of British monarchs Succeeded by:
Charles I
Preceded on the Scottish throne by:
Mary, Queen of Scots

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