ARTICLE SERIES: ROYAL INSPIRATION: MONARCHS WHO SHAPED BIBLICAL HISTORY

Part 1

About King James I of England

King James the First of England

BIBELN.ONLINE

About King James the First of England


Picture 1: King James the First of England

Time of government

King James I of England, who was also James VI of Scotland, became King of Scotland when he was just 13 months old after his mother, Mary Stuart (Mary I of Scotland), abdicated in 1567. He then became King of England and Ireland in 1603 after the death of Queen Elizabeth I. At the time, James was 36 years old. King James VI ruled Scotland from 1567 until his death in 1625, a period of 58 years. In the case of England and Ireland, his reign began in 1603 and lasted until his death in 1625, which is a period of 22 years. So, in total, he ruled Scotland for 58 years and England and Ireland for 22 years.

Birth and childhood

Picture 2: Edinburgh Castle in Scottland.


James was born on 19 June 1566 in Edinburgh Castle, Scotland (see Figure 2). He was the son of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, and Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. After his father's murder and his mother's abdication, James became King of Scotland at just 13 months of age as James VI.

James' childhood took place during a period of intense religious conflict in Scotland. The country was divided between Catholics and Protestants, and this created political instability and tensions. As James was very young when he came to the throne, a number of regents served as his guardians. This included his mother, Mary Stuart, who ruled as regent in his early childhood. James received a liberal arts education and learnt several languages, including Latin, French and Scottish Gaelic. He became an educated man and was interested in subjects such as theology and politics. James's childhood was also influenced by English events. His cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England, had an open question about the succession, and James had the prospect of inheriting the English throne if Elizabeth died childless. This was later realised in 1603 when Elizabeth died, and James became King James I of England.

In summary, James's childhood was a time of political and religious turmoil, and his early education and experiences moulded him as a monarch with broad knowledge and interests when he later became King of both Scotland and England.


King James' attempt to unite England and Scotland

Picture 3: Flag of Scotland


Reigned over both Crowns

James became King of England and Ireland in 1603, following the death of Queen Elizabeth I of England. He thus became the first monarch to rule both England and Scotland, leading to the creation of the personal union between the two kingdoms. 

What happened was a personal union between England and Scotland. This meant that the two kingdoms had the same monarch, but they continued to be separate countries with different parliaments and laws. James was now king of both England and Scotland, and he used the titles 'King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland' (although he never controlled all of France).


The Union Confederation

Picture 4: The flag of England


He united England and Scotland into a single kingdom

During his reign, James I tried to introduce legislation to fully unite England and Scotland into a single kingdom. James introduced the term 'Kingdom of Great Britain'. James I tried to promote a degree of political and religious integration between England and Scotland. He tried to create a common currency and a new flag that combined the red cross of England with the white cross of Scotland (see Figure 4). He also issued a royal proclamation declaring English and Scots citizens of a common kingdom. Despite his efforts, James I was unable to achieve full union during his lifetime.

A full parliamentary union between England and Scotland would not materialise until 1707, during the reign of his cousin, Queen Anne of Great Britain (King James I and Queen Anne were cousins as they were both descendants of Henry VIII's sister Margaret Tudor). Queen Anne of Great Britain (1665-1714) was regent from 1702 to 1714. In 1707, it was during her reign that the Acts of Union between England and Scotland came into force, leading to the creation of the Kingdom of Great Britain. Previously, the two nations had been separate kingdoms with the same monarch, but after 1707 they became a single political entity. This union is the basis for today's United Kingdom.

The Gunpowder Plot

An assassination attempt on King James I was stopped

The gunpowder conspiracy in 1605

Illustration av Guy Fawkes arrestering.

Picture 5: Illustration of Guy Fawkes' arrest. ©Bibeln.Online


The powder conspiracy on 5 November

In 1605, a Catholic treason and conspiracy was uncovered. The aim of the plot was to kill King James I and most of the country's nobles by blowing up the House of Lords during the opening of Parliament on 5 November. Thankfully, the attack was thwarted and the Palace of Westminster and King James I and the nobles escaped harm.

  • The conspirators: The most famous of the conspirators was Guy Fawkes, born in York in 1570, and raised as a Protestant, but later converted to Catholicism, but there were several others involved, including Robert Catesby, born around 1572 in Warwickshire, England. Coming from a prominent Catholic family, he was the real mastermind behind the so-called Conspiracy of the Cross. Catesby managed to recruit others, including Fawkes, to his cause of blowing up the English Parliament to assassinate King James I and most of the members of Parliament. When the plan was uncovered, Catesby tried to escape. However, he died in a battle with the Royalist forces on 8 November 1605.

  • Discovery: The plan was revealed after an anonymous warning was sent to Lord Monteagle. On 4 November 1605, Guy Fawkes was found in the cellars under Parliament with 36 barrels of gunpowder. He was arrested, and the other conspirators were arrested soon after.

  • Consequences: Guy Fawkes and several of his co-conspirators were tortured under interrogation, sentenced to death and executed. After the attempted assassination, stricter laws were introduced against Catholics in England.

  • Commemoration: Guy Fawkes Night or Guy Fawkes Day, is a British tradition celebrated on 5 November each year where people light bonfires and burn a doll representing Fawkes. Some traditional dishes and snacks are consumed during Fawkes Night, including Toffee Apples, Parkin (Gingerbread) and Bonfire toffee also known as Syrup toffee. Although its religious and political meanings have faded over time, Guy Fawkes Night remains a popular cultural event in the UK. Originally, however, it was a reminder that a group of Catholics, led by Robert Catesby and including Guy Fawkes who was caught in the cellars of Parliament with 36 barrels of gunpowder, to blow up the English Parliament and murder the reigning King and members of Parliament. A reminder of treason and conspiracy. 

  • The film V for Vendetta (2005): In contrast to Guy Fawkes Night or Guy Fawkes Day, we can see that the filmmakers of the film V for Vendetta (2005) have chosen to use Guy Fawkes as a symbol and celebrate him as a freedom fighter instead of a traitor. The main character in the film, known only as "V", wears a mask representing Guy Fawkes (see Figure 4). This mask becomes in the film a symbol of resistance, rebellion and anonymity against a tyrannical and controlling society. V is therefore an idea rather than a physical person in the film, so his face is never shown. On the film's official website, the following was written about V: "V's use of the Guy Fawkes mask and his identity serve as both practical and symbolic elements to his backstory. He wears the mask to hide his physical scars and by obscuring his identity he embodies the idea itself." - A popular English rhyme associated with Guy Fawkes is also quoted several times in the film:

”"Remember, remember the fifth of November, Gunpowder Treason and Conspiracy. I see no reason why the powder treason should ever be forgotten”.


Picture 6: Illustration of Guy Fawkes' arrest


The consequences if Guy Fawkes and his cronies had succeeded in carrying out the attack are almost unimaginable, we would not have the King James Bible today. It is not difficult to understand that it was God who protected King James and the nobles from this attack which was not only an attack on the rulers of England but an attack on the word of God.

DID YOU KNOW:

The explosive power of 36 barrels of gunpowder is about 2,160 megajoules?

To better understand the explosive power of 36 barrels or drums of gunpowder. Each barrel of gunpowder was considered to contain approximately 90-100 pounds (about 40-45kg) of gunpowder. If we assume that each barrel contained about 100 pounds of gunpowder (45kg), then 36 barrels of gunpowder would total about 3,600 pounds of gunpowder (about 1,633kg of gunpowder or more). By calculation, this amount of gunpowder would provide a total explosive power of about 2 160 Megajoules (or 2.16 Gigajoules). A single MegaJoule is roughly equivalent to the kinetic energy of a 1 tonne vehicle travelling at 160 km/h. This is a huge amount of explosive power, especially in the 17th century, and could wreak havoc over a large area.

Literary impact

(The Bible, 1611 King James Version)

King James Bible, First Edition (Facsimile)

Picture 7: King James Bible, First Edition (Facsimile)


The King James Bible

King James I of England and VI of Scotland played a significant role in the creation of the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible. In 1604, he gathered a group of eminent Bible translators and scholars to work on the translation. The result was the well-known King James Bible, also known as the Authorised Version, which was first published in 1611. King James wanted a Bible translation that was authoritative, easy to read and suitable for use in both Anglican and Presbyterian churches. Known for its elegant and poetic style of language, the KJV has had a profound impact on the English language and religious culture over the centuries. It is still, after over 400 years, the most widely known and used Bible in English-speaking countries.

Author

As well as being commissioned to translate the Holy Bible during his reign, which much later came to be known as the King James Version, James was also a talented writer and theologian himself. He wrote several books and these works provide an insight into his thoughts on a range of topics, from government to religion to personal habits, and give a valuable insight into the cultural and political environment of his reign:

  • "Daemonologie" (1597): First published in 1597, it is a treatise on demonology, sorcery and witchcraft. The book is divided into three books (or parts) and is a dialogue between two characters, Philomathes and Epistemon, who discuss the different aspects of demonology. King James I wrote 'Daemonologie' at a time when the fear of witchcraft was at its height in Europe. His book reflects both his personal belief in the existence of witches and demons and his desire to educate the public about these dangers. James I argued that witches and demons were real and that they worked for the devil to harm and destroy innocent people.

  • "Basilikon Doron" (1599): The title "Basilikon Doron" is Greek and can be translated as "Royal Testament" or "Royal Gift". This work is an instruction book or manual addressed to his son, Prince Henry Frederick of Scotland. "To whom may rightly belong his book of how a Prince is to be instructed in all matters pertaining to his calling, both generally (as a Christian towards God) and particularly (as a King towards his people?) To whom (I say) may it rightly belong, as to you, my dearest son?" It contains advice on morality, ethics and royal rule. In this book he advocated Royal Virtue and gave advice on how to behave like a monarch. He says this: "I divided this book into three parts. The first teaches you your duty to God as a Christian: the second your duty in your office as a King, and the third teaches you how to behave in things extraneous." In the book he warned, among other things, against "forbidden lusts" and avoiding "too great acquaintance, acquaintance with too many", and especially against "falling too much in love with one's favourites", which is also a reference to homosexuality, which in many other eras in England was illegal and could lead to severe punishment. Which is also why there were malicious rumours that King James himself was homosexual. There is absolutely no evidence for such a claim, but quite the contrary as the Bible contains several passages often quoted in the debate on homosexuality (such as Romans 1:22-32) and King James was a devout Christian as he confirmed in this book with a heading such as "A King's Christian Duty to God". It should also be mentioned that even throughout Jacob's reign, these laws against homosexuality continued to be in place. In his book he also refers to many scriptures on various subjects and he also rejects the apocryphal books as he considers them to be linked to Catholicism. As for the apocryphal books, I omit them because I am not a Catholic..." He goes on to say: "But when you read Scripture, read it with a sanctified and chaste ear: admire reverently those obscure passages which you do not understand, and blame only your own inability; read with delight the clear passages, and study carefully to understand those which are somewhat difficult; press on to become a good reader of the text, for Scripture is always the best interpreter of itself...." - King James I.

  • "The True Law of Free Monarchies" (1598): In this treatise, James argues in favour of the "Divine Right" to royal rule. It is a theory that claims that a monarch is put on the throne by God and that no one but God has the right to challenge or question the monarch's decisions. James argues that monarchs are God's appointed representatives on earth and that they should therefore be governed by God's law rather than man's law.

  • "A Counterblaste to Tobacco" (1604): This is one of the first writings to openly criticise tobacco smoking. In it, James expresses his disgust with tobacco smoking and describes it as a harmful habit. James describes tobacco smoke as dangerous and harmful to the lungs. He criticises smoking as a barbaric habit and compares it to the customs of 'savage', non-European peoples. James also criticises the economic wastefulness of spending money on tobacco. The king describes tobacco smoking as a "ridiculous and shameful habit" and urges his subjects to give it up. During his reign, several laws and taxes were introduced to curb tobacco use.

Death and burial of King James

James died of natural causes on 27 March 1625 after reigning as King of Scotland for 58 years and King of England and Ireland for 22 years. He was succeeded by his son, Charles I (Charles I). There were some rumours and speculation about poisoning at the time of his death but King James had had several health problems during his life, including arthritis, kidney stones and, possibly, gout. His health deteriorated in his final years, and he died at the age of 58. King James I of England was buried in Westminster Abbey in London, England. Westminster Abbey is one of Britain's most famous and historic churches and serves as a burial place for many British monarchs and significant historical figures. His tomb is still in the church and is part of its rich historical heritage.

King James I of England, was a prominent figure in the history of the early modern period.

King James I is one of the most famous monarchs in British history and an important figure who marked the transition from the Tudor to the Stuart dynasty. James's reign was characterised by cultural and political change, and his decisions had lasting consequences for the kingdoms he ruled and the world at large.


Historical summary of his life and reign:

Picture 8: King James I of England.


Birth and upbringing

James was born on 19 June 1566, the son of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, and her second husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. After his mother's abdication, he became King of Scotland as James VI when he was only one year old. His reign in Scotland was characterised by religious conflict between Catholics and Protestants.


Union of the English and Scottish Thrones

James's most famous achievement was the union of the English and Scottish thrones. After the death of Elizabeth I in 1603, he became King James I of England, marking the beginning of the personal union between the two kingdoms. This meant that England and Scotland had the same monarch but still separate parliaments.


Religious policy

James I sought to alleviate religious conflict and persecution by promoting the idea of religious tolerance. He initiated the King James Version, a translation of the Bible into English, which is still used today. Despite his efforts, he faced opposition from both Puritans and Catholics during his reign.


Policy and relations with Parliament

James I believed that the King's Christian duty was to God and therefore had a strained relationship with parts of Parliament. He was critical of Parliament's attempts to limit the King's power and believed that the King should rule by the grace of God. 


Gunpowder Plot

During James's reign, the famous Gunpowder Plot occurred in 1605, in which Catholic conspirators, including Guy Fawkes, tried to blow up the English Parliament. The conspiracy failed, and the traitors were sentenced to death.


Death and legacy

King James I died on 27 March 1625. He was succeeded by his son, King Charles I of England. James's reign left an important legacy, including attempts at religious toleration and his contribution to the translation of the Bible, completed in 1611 and later known as the Authorised King James Version. He is also known for his writings on politics, including the 'Basilikon Doron,' in which he shared his thoughts on governance.

Computer animated image of Edinburgh Castle in Scotland.

Computer animated image of Edinburgh Castle in Scotland. - ©Bibeln.Online