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British kings and queens

Stuart kings and queens

King James I of EnglandKing James I of England

James I (1603–1625)

Elizabeth I’s aunt, Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII, had married James IV of Scotland. When Elizabeth died in 1603 without any children, the English throne passed to Margaret’s great-grandson, James VI of Scotland, (who was also the son of Mary, Queen of Scots). As James I of England, he became the first of the new line of Stuart kings that ruled both countries until 1714.

James I held a strong belief in the Divine Right of Kings: a king had absolute freedom to rule and his only responsibility was to God. As a result of this and his constant need to raise money, he often came into conflict with Parliament. Following the outbreak of the Thirty Years’ War in 1618 in Europe, financial pressures forced James to summon Parliament in 1621. The House of Commons insisted on discussing England’s foreign policy in general, but James forbade it.

James was no supporter of the Puritans (devout Protestants who believed in greater "purity" of worship in their religion) and also disappointed the Catholics, who had hoped to be given more freedoms than during Elizabeth I's reign. In 1605, a Catholic plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament, known as the Gunpowder Plot, to be carried out by Guy Fawkes and others, was uncovered. During James's reign, a new version of the Bible, the King James Bible (1611), was published.

England became a republic after Charles I’s execution in 1649, but Charles II remained King of Scotland. But following the defeat of a Scottish invasion force at the Battle of Worcester in 1651, Charles fled to France with a reward on his head. Despite being unusually tall (over 6 ft / 1.8 m) and therefore difficult to disguise, Charles made it to Normandy.

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