King James I

Lived: 1566-1625
Reigned: 1603-1625

King James I

Born: 19 June 1566
Place: Edinburgh Castle
1567-1625 (Scotland)
Coronation: 25 July 1603
Father: Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley (1545-1567)
Mother: Mary, Queen Of Scots (1542-1587)
Spouse: Anne Of Denmark (1574-1619)
Henry (1594-1612)
Elizabeth Of Bohemia (1596-1662)
Margaret (1591-1639)
Charles I (1600-1649)
Robert (1602)
Religion: Protestant
Died: 27 March 1625
Place: Theobalds House, Hertfordshire
Buried: Westminster Abbey
Successor: Charles I

King James I was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots, and her second husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. When James was still a baby, his father was murdered following a suspicious explosion at his house of Kirk O'Field, Edinburgh. Many believed that Mary, Queen of Scots, was party to the deed so she could marry her lover, James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell. This suspicion seemed to be confirmed when Mary married Bothwell soon afterwards, and her people were outraged. Mary was taken prisoner and forced to abdicate in favour of her son, and thus James became King of Scotland while he was still an infant. Mary managed to escape to England, but was immediately taken prisoner by Queen Elizabeth I. James never saw his mother again. For the next nineteen years, Mary was held in captivity by the English Queen, and was executed for conspiring the Queen's death at Fotheringay Castle in 1587.

In 1589, James married Anne of Denmark. The couple had several children, but only four survived to adulthood: Henry, Elizabeth, Margaret and Charles. In 1613 Elizabeth married Frederick V, Elector of Palatine, and when he accepted the Bohemian crown, she became Queen of Bohemia. Their reign was only brief, however, and they were forced into exile in Holland. Frederick was eventually restored to the electorship in 1648, but Elizabeth remained in Holland. The couple had many children, including Charles, Elector Palatine (1617-1680); Rupert, Duke of Cumberland (1619-1682), Edward, Count Palatine of Simmern (1625-1663), Elisabeth, Princess Palatine (1618-1680) and Sophia, Electress of Hanover (1630-1714). When the Stuart dynasty died with Queen Anne, it was Sophia's son, George (1660-1727), who inherited the British crown. Thus, the present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, is a descendant of Elizabeth's. Elizabeth of Bohemia is also known as The Winter Queen.

When Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603, James became King of England aswell as King of Scotland. Having spent his entire life in Scotland, he travelled to England very soon after the Queen's death, and thereafter spent most of his time in and around London. For over forty years the question of who would succeed Elizabeth had haunted her subjects, and the smooth transfer of power to James was a great relief to many. James retained Elizabeth's chief minister, Robert Cecil, as his main advisor, and made him Earl of Salisbury in 1605. He also granted Cecil Elizabeth's former residence of Hatfield Palace, and while the Earl demolished most of the old palace, his descendants still own Hatfield House to this day.

The most famous incident of James's reign is The Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Many Roman Catholics had hoped that when Elizabeth died the new King would allow them freedom of worship, but they were bitterly disappointed. The lot of Roman Catholics changed little, and in frustration, Guy Fawkes and his supporters planned on killing the King and all important people in the land by blowing up the Houses of Parliament. The plot was foiled, and the surviving conspirators executed.

The reign of King James is also famous for The King James Bible. Unhappy with the existing English translations, in 1604 James authorised a new translation of the Bible into English. It was complete by 1611 and dedicated to the King. Many believe it is the best English translation ever made.

James's son and heir, Henry, who was popular with the people, died in 1612. This made James's second son, Charles, heir to the throne. James died in the March of 1625 and was buried in the Chapel of Henry VII at Westminster Abbey. Queen Elizabeth I had, by her wish, been buried there, but James moved the Queen to another part of the Abbey, partly because of the number of people who were visiting her grave. He also moved his mother from Peterborough Cathedral, where she had originally been buried, to Westminster Abbey. Thus, ironically, the two rival queens who never met in life lie only feet away from each other in death. Charles succeeded his father to become King Charles I.