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Clash Of Lords / October 5, 2018


James I succeeded the last Tudor monarch, Elizabeth I, in 1603. James at the time of Elizabeth’s death was king of Scotland. He was also the nearest blood relative to Elizabeth. James was a Stuart – so Tudor England died on March 24th 1603 while the accession of James ushered in the era of the Stuarts.

In Scotland, James never had full control of the country. Scotland was seen as ungovernable in parts – governed solely by the clans. James was proclaimed king of Scotland in 1567 – aged 1 – after the enforced abdication of his mother, Mary, Queen of Scots. His education was Puritan based and he was pushed very hard by his teachers George Buchanan and Peter Young. However, James became fluent in Latin and French and competent in Italian. In his early years, James developed a great desire for knowledge but it also gave him an over inflated idea as to his own worth as an academic. He believed that he was capable of out-arguing almost anyone. It was a character defect that was to bring him into conflict with the English Parliament and it was his inability to accept that others might be right that was to provoke many strong reactions in London.

As a youth James was surrounded by men who, in an attempt to boost their influence, tried to flatter him at every opportunity. It was a tactic that Robert Carr and George Villiers were to use with great success after James was made king of England.

He married Anne of Denmark in 1589. She proved to be a shallow and frivolous person and James found respite from her by surrounding himself with young men.

James was the great-grandson of Margaret, the sister of Henry VIII. On April 5th, 1603, James started his journey south. Accompanied by a host of advisors and servants, James crossed the border into England. Once he got to York, he wrote to the English Privy Council requesting money. Despite being king of Scotland, James was not a wealthy man by English standards. The need for money was to be a dominating factor in his reign as James I of England.

James made a triumphant entry into London. Large numbers of the nobility had travelled to London to witness the event and James was later to write:

“The people of all sorts rode and ran, nay, rather flew to meet me, their eyes flaming nothing but sparkles of affection, their mouths and tongues uttering nothing but sounds of joy, their hands, feet, and all the rest of their members in their gestures discovering a passionate longing and earnestness to meet and embrace their new sovereign."

The English Privy Council was keen to make a positive start with their new king. The last few years of Elizabeth’s reign had seen her popularity fall as her unpredictability had increased. The Privy Councillors saw their new king as a fresh start. When both parties met for the first time, the Councillors were impressed with the king’s sharp brain and his aptitude for business. They were equally impressed by his ability to make a quick decision – whether it was right or wrong – after suffering from years of Elizabeth’s procrastination, including ironically whether the mother of James, Mary, Queen of Scots, should be executed or not. The Privy Council also took to his informality and sense of humour, which some noted did, on occasions, border on obscene.