James I called himself the king of Great Britain. He was born in Scotland and died in England, being the first of the Stewart family to rule in both Scotland and England. He was an advocate of royal absolutism, which means the king rules absolutely. During his rule from 1603 to 1625, he clashed heavily with Parliament, the non-royal government force in England.
Let’s get into some facts!
8 Interesting Facts About James I
1. He was the first to rule both Scotland and England
James I had another title, James VI. How could he be both James VI and James I? Easy, first he was king of Scotland as James VI, then he was king of England as James I. How did he become king of England after being king of Scotland? Curious today, aren’t we? Queen Elizabeth I, the monarch of England at the time, passed away without a direct heir, and James I maneuvered himself into a place where he could inherit the crown.
2. He had a controversial rule
An interesting facdt about James I is that he was not the most popular or well-behaved King England has ever had. He was originally from Scotland, and so he was used to how the people of Scotland were, which was totally different than how the people of England were. They didn’t like that he was Scottish, they didn’t like his thick Scottish accent. He started a very unpopular tax on imports and exports, and used the money he got on fancy treats for himself.
Between 1612 and 1622, he only summoned the Parliament one time, and otherwise ruled all by himself. The people had no say in decisions. However, one thing that really ticked the people of England off was when James I made an alliance with Spain while England saw Spain as a bitter enemy.
3. He had “favorites”
On the list of many controversial practices James I had during his rule, one of the most interesting ones was the implementation of favourites. A favorite wasn’t an official position, but they were certain people who James I treated with great favor, handing out gifts, honors, and official titles like duke or lord freely. Favorites had a lot of influence over James I’s decisions, and he picked these favorites based on, well…attractiveness.
James I was a known gay man, and he would pick the men he found most attractive to be his favorites, a crazy fact about James I.
4. He suppressed anyone who differed with him
James I was not a good king if you wanted to practice religious freedom. He was a Puritain Christian, but his mother was a Catholic. Catholics in England were hoping that because of that, James I would be tolerant of Catholics. He was, sort of, until a group of Catholics tried to take over the English government, then all bets were off. At that point, James I continued the programs of Catholic suppression that were started by Queen Elizabeth I.
5. He commissioned a bible still popular today
James I was so insistent on having religion his way that he gathered a group of 47 scholars and paid for them to write a new translation of the Bible. This was known as the King James Bible, a translation which is still popular in some churches today for it’s insight and poetic language.
6. He had an exciting childhood
When James was 8 months old, his father died when his house exploded. At one year old, Scottish rebel Lords forced James’s mother, Mary, Queen of Scots, to give up the throne. As the direct heir to the throne, James became the King of Scotland as a one year old baby.
He was a fairly isolated child, kept safe in the castle. He was able to get a good education up until the age of 14. He learned several languages.
Apparently, though, he wasn’t kept safe enough in the castle, because James I was kidnapped as a child, an interesting James I fact. His kidnappers forced him to publicly say he disagreed with a man who was his mentor at the time. In time, James I escaped, and started taking the rule of the country into his own hands.
7. His succession to the English throne didn’t just happen
It wasn’t a coincidence that James I is the one that ended up ascending to the English throne. At an early age, James realized that Queen Elizabeth didn’t have any kids, and so didn’t have a direct heir. He knew, if he played his cards right, he could gain Elizabeth’s favor and become the King of England. Because of this, he always agreed with the Queen. Even when she ordered his mother be executed, he only argued with her a little bit. Clearly, James I got his payoff, but was it worth it?
8. He was a writer
He stands out among Kings by the fact that he left behind literature that he published. It wasn’t very good, but he did write. His works included two political essays on the divine right of kings, as well as other political works and at least two books of poems, an interesting fact about James I.
King James I’s legacy was…a mixed one. He did about as much good for his family’s name as he did bad. He was seen as crude, rude, and selfish, taxing people directly when the Parliament wouldn’t approve him spending large amounts of money on fancy but unnecessary things. In fact, he spent so much that James doubled the amount of debt England was in during the entirety of Elizabeth’s rule during 4 years of peacetime. He was totally disconnected from the people he ruled and he didn’t care, as long as he had his power.
However, he also made peace between England and Spain very quickly. He gave us a new Bible and did a lot of good for Scotland. James I died of old age in his favorite country home, and in his declining years, his son Prince Charles and the Duke of Buckingham made most of his decisions for him.
I hope that this article on James I facts was helpful! If you are interested, visit the Historical People Page!