King James IRoyalty
Born: 19 June 1566
Died: 27 March 1625
Birthplace: Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Best known as: The Scottish and English king who sponsored the 1611 Bible
King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England in 1603. He was the first monarch of the House of Stewart (or Stuart) and succeeded Queen Elizabeth I, the last monarch of the House of Tudor. James was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots, and Henry Stewart, Duke of Albany (known as Lord Dunley). James became the king of Scotland at age one (1567), when his mother was forced to abdicate the throne, and finally assumed real power himself in 1583. As a young king he survived several assassination attempts and strengthened the power of the crown over Parliament. He allied himself with England's Elizabeth (making only a token objection when she executed his mother), and when the childless queen died, her throne went to James. (He was her distant cousin as the great-grandson of Margaret Tudor, elder sister of England's Henry VIII, the father of Elizabeth.) His reign as James I was marked by unpopular policy decisions and uneasy relations with Parliament, who resented his assertion of the Divine Right of Kings and considered him self-indulgent and crass. He dissolved Parliament in 1611 and, excepting what was called the Addled Parliament (1614), ruled without one until 1621. Raised a Protestant in Scotland, James angered Puritans with his support of the Anglican Church, and he frustrated both Catholics and Protestants with inconsistent policies. His personal extravagance and reliance on incompetent or corrupt court favorites made him increasingly unpopular and helped set the scene for the English Civil War under his son and successor, Charles I. The colonization of America began during his reign. Despite all the turmoil, he is probably best-remembered for commissioning the translation into English and publication (in 1611) of what is called the Authorized or King James version of the Bible.
Extra credit: James was more of a scholar than a warrior; he authored several treatises, including The True Laws of Free Monarchies and Demonology... The "Gunpowder Plot" to kill James in 1605 was foiled when Guy Fawkes was caught with 36 barrels of gunpowder beneath the House of Lords... Critics winked and nudged at James's close relationship with George Villiers, called "wife" by James and made Earl of Buckingham in 1623... James imprisoned a favorite of Elizabeth, Sir Walter Raleigh, and eventually had him beheaded.
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