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Useful Notes / James I and VI

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Yes, that King James.

James VI and I (19 June 1566 – 27 March 1625) of The House of Stuart was King of Scotland as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the Scottish and English crowns on 24 March 1603 until his death. Under him and until the early eighteenth century, the kingdoms of Scotland and England remained individual sovereign states, with their own parliaments, judiciary, and laws, although both ruled by the same person in personal union.

James was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots, and a great-great-grandson of Henry VII, King of England and Ireland (through both his parents), uniquely positioning him to eventually accede to all three thrones. In 1603, he succeeded the last Tudor monarch of England and Ireland, Elizabeth I, who died without issue. He continued to reign in all three kingdoms for 22 years, a period known as the Jacobean era after him, until his death in 1625 at the age of 58. He styled himself King of Great Britain and Ireland (and devised the Union Jack to fly on his ships and thus emphasise the unity of his realms), though each kingdom still governed themselves. He was a major advocate of a single parliament for both England and Scotland. In his reign, the Plantation of Ulster and British colonisation of the Americas began (Jamestown, the first surviving British colony in what was later the US, was named for the sitting king).


At 57 years and 246 days, James's reign in Scotland was longer than those of any of his predecessors. He achieved most of his aims in Scotland but faced great difficulties in England, including the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 and repeated conflicts with the English Parliament, which would worsen under his son Charles I and erupt into the English Civil War. Under James, the "Golden Age" of Elizabethan literature and drama continued, with writers such as William Shakespeare, John Donne, Ben Jonson, and Sir Francis Bacon contributing to a flourishing literary culture. He sponsored the translation of the Bible that was named after him: the Authorised, or "King James" Version. He has always been remembered for having a great intellect despite bad manners and a foul temper, but his actual competence and achievements as a ruler were viewed fairly negatively for many years. By the latter half of the 20th century, historians have tended to revise James's reputation and treat him as a serious and thoughtful monarch. He is also notable as one of the British rulers most generally agreed to have had homosexual inclinations, his relationship in particular with George Villiers, who he raised to the position of Duke of Buckingham, being the subject of gossip at the time and ever since.



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