James I of England
King during union of English and Scottish crowns
James VI of Scotland and I of England (Charles James Stuart) (19 June 1566 – 27 March 1625) was a king who ruled over England, Scotland, and Ireland, and was the first Sovereign to reign in the three realms simultaneously.
- Beware in making your sporters your councellors, and delight not to keepe ordinarily in your companie comedians or balladines.
- Basilikon Doron (1599)
- If you aim at a Scottish presbytery, it agreeth as well with monarchy, as God and the devil. … No bishop, no King!
- I will make them conform themselves, or else I will harry them out of the land, or else do worse.
- A custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black, stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling the horrible Stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless.
- Herein is not only a great vanity, but a great contempt of God's gifts, that the sweetness of man's breath, being a good gift of God, should be willfully corrupted by this stinking smoke.
- A Counterblaste to Tobacco (1604)
- I acknowledge the Roman Church to be our mother church, although defiled with some infirmities and corruptions...Let [the Papists] assure themselves, that, as I am a friend of their persons, if they be good subjects, so am I a vowed enemy, and do denounce mortal war to their errors.
- On Roman Catholics, at the opening of parliament in 1604.
- That which concerns the mystery of the King's power is not lawful to be disputed; for that is to wade into the weakness of Princes, and to take away the mystical reverence that belongs unto them that sit in the throne of God.
- The House of Commons is a body without a head. The Members give their opinions in a disorderly manner. At their meetings nothing is heard but cries, shouts, and confusion. I am surprised that my ancestors should ever have permitted such an institution to come into existence. I am a stranger and found it here when I arrived, so that I am obliged to put up with what I cannot get rid of.
- Remark to the Spanish Ambassador, as quoted in A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Volume Two: The New World (1956) by Winston Churchill, p. 157
- James Stuart, the only son of Elizabeth's old nemesis, Mary Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley, long had a bad press among English historians. This was, in part, because he possessed an unconventional personality for a king, especially after the forthright authoritarianism of the Tudors. For example, unlike the last two Henries, he was not a military man: in fact, a military salute on the Isle of Wight once frightened him. Rather, he fancied himself a Rex Pacificus (peaceful king) who would bring peace and concord not only to the three kingdoms, but, as a moderator among his fellow monarchs, to all Europe. In this, he was ahead of his time. He was also a relatively tolerant man, preferring, like Elizabeth, to let Catholics and Puritans live in peace if they maintained their political loyalty to him. His failure to engage in military adventures against the Catholic powers or to enforce the penal laws against Catholics at home would be controversial with his subjects. In fact, his decision to end the war with Spain in 1604 was precisely what the English economy needed, while his flexibility over religion promoted sectarian peace for 20 years.
- Richard Bucholz and Newton Key, Early Modern England, 1485-1714: A Narrative History (2009), p. 217
- Unfortunately for his image, both then and later, the new king did not look, sound or act, to contemporary eyes and ears, very much like a surrogate for the Supreme Being. It is not James' fault that he was a rather odd-looking man: skinny legs supported an ungainly body, crowned by a somewhat ponderous head. That head housed a tongue that was too large for its mouth, causing a pronounced lisp. The lisp exacerbated a stutter and what to English hearing was a thick Scots accent. In our politically correct age all of this might be overlooked or even celebrated in the name of diversity. But contemporaries used to the regal bearing of the Tudors and bound by their own prejudices could not help but draw unflattering conclusions. In particular, James' Scottish descent was difficult to stomach for English men and women who had long seen their northern neighbors as rude, impoverished brigands. Some charged that the king had swept down from his poor northern kingdom accompanied by "the hungry Scots": Scottish courtiers who saw England as a vast treasure house to plunder.
- Richard Bucholz and Newton Key, Early Modern England, 1485-1714: A Narrative History (2009), p. 217-218
- The new king's manner also contrasted sharply with that of his Tudor predecessors, sometimes to his disadvantage. Once again, some of his personal traits were far more damaging then than they would be today. For a king, he could be remarkably informal, even affable. He was not a stickler for ceremony and was good at putting people at ease. This was, in some ways, an advantage, for it meant that, early in the reign, at least, his court was welcoming to men and women of all political and religious persuasions. This openness meant that the king always had a pretty good idea of what various sides in a debate were thinking, while each might hope that their view would prevail. On the other hand, the Tudors' success had stemmed, in part, from their ability to keep people off balance and inspire loyalty, awe, and fear. The new king's personality and reputation worked against these feelings in several ways. For example, there were rumors of excessive drinking, made worse by a poor ability to tolerate its effects. More seriously, and unlike his Tudor predecessors, the new king hated crowds and rarely showed himself to his people outside London.
- Richard Bucholz and Newton Key, Early Modern England, 1485-1714: A Narrative History (2009), p. 218-219
- James's foreign policy perhaps met the needs of the age for peace, but often clashed with its temper. When he came to the throne England was still technically at war with Spain. With Cecil's support hostilities were concluded and diplomatic relations renewed. In all the circumstances this may be deemed to have been a wise and prudent step. The main struggle had already shifted from the high seas to Europe. The house of Hapsburg, at the head of the Holy Roman Empire, still dominated the Continent from Vienna. The territories of the Emperor and of his cousin the King of Spain now stretched from Portugal to Poland, and their power was backed by the proselytising fervour of the Jesuits. The Commons and the country remained vehemently hostile to Spain, and viewed with alarm and anxiety the march of the Counter-Reformation. But James was unmoved. He regarded the Dutch as rebels against the Divine Right of Kings. The Spanish Ambassador, Count Gondomar, financed a pro-Spanish party at the new Court; learning nothing from Tudor experience, James proposed not merely an alliance with Spain, but a Spanish match for his son.
- Winston Churchill, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Volume Two: The New World (1956), p. 157-158
- On the morning of 15 May 1607 a hundred and forty-three men (there were no women in this expedition) disembarked from having been crowded aboard Captain Christopher Newport's three ships during the past four months of their tedious sea passage. They found themselves on an island near the north bank of a tidal river, where they then set about establishing the first permanent English settlement in North America. With their exuberant native patriotism having bounded with them onto the shore of this largely-unknown continent, these alien settlers immediately named both the sparkling river and their little fortress settlement for their young sovereign of the Stuart dynasty, James I of England (also known as James VI of Scotland). Whenever King James was living in Scotland he dutifully worshipped with the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland- a group he did not especially like- and whenever he was living in England he rather disdainfully worshiped in the Anglican Church- a group which overwhelmingly distrusted him... and vice versa.
- William E. Thompson, Her Walls Before Thee Stand: The 235-Year History of the Presbyterian Congregation at Hampden-Sydney, Virginia (2010), revised 2011 edition, p. 15
- The British Isles were frequently torn with religious dissension throughout most of the 1600s. In fact, it had been in a rather desperate effort to produce at least some degree of unity and loyalty among the fractious Christian groups found in his new realm, that King James had summoned a group of fifty-four scholars who were charged to produce the first officially authorized English translation of the complete Bible, naively assuming that surely the many varieties of Christians represented among his religious subjects could at least agree on this one unifying force for their common faith. The translators began their famous task shortly before the three shiploads of intrepid Jamestown adventurers left their Mother Country for the New World. The king's scholars continued laboring toward the completion of their magnificient finished product- the King James Version of Holy Scripture- which was finally published in 1611 (four years after Jamestown had been founded). While this Bible did indeed become a principle religious building block for all the English-speaking Christians who follwoed in the wake of those first colonists, nevertheless over the next two centuries that would be about the only thing that Virginia's Christians would passionately hold in common.
- William E. Thompson, Her Walls Before Thee Stand: The 235-Year History of the Presbyterian Congregation at Hampden-Sydney, Virginia (2010), revised 2011 edition, p. 17
- He was so crafty and cunning in petty things, as the circumventing of any great man, the change of a Favourite, &c. insomuch as a very wise man was wont to say that he believed him the wisest fool in Christendom, meaning him wise in small things, but a fool in weighty affairs.
- The Court and Character of King James I, commonly attributed to Anthony Weldon