Sunday, 24 March 2013

Good Old Jamie!

On this day in 1603 James VI of Scotland took the throne of England as James I after the death of English Queen Elizabeth. Thus the 'Union of the Crowns,' saw a Scot rule the barbarian English! Naturally the English always refer to him as James I rather than James VI and Ist as they ought, imperialism never dies in England. They were happy however to see him take the throne and avoid war of any kind. Enemies abounded for England, as always, both Spain and France had made threats and the Armada was not that distant. Peace reigned for some time, apart from the usual problems in Ireland. The prolonged war there was bankrupting his new nation.

James was the son of Mary Queen of Scots. A small note here, no-one is ever King or Queen of Scotland, the title is 'King of Scots.' We are a democratic people led by a chosen King, and if he fails us we democratically chop his head off. James father was one Lord Darnley who suffered an unfortunate sudden death when the building he was in exploded. Shortly afterwards his mum married the Earl of Bothwell, the man considered guilty of bumping of Darnley. As Catholic Mary was far from popular in protestant Scotland, John Knox often made his full and frank opinion known at the time, this did not make her life easier. Mary always strikes me as a 'Diana' type, as opposed to Elizabeth who was more 'Thatcher' in her approach. Within a year of his birth in Edinburgh Castle Mary was imprisoned and forced to abdicate. James VI therefore became King at Stirling at the age of 13 months in 1567. He remembered little about this.
Years of reign under the control of regents followed, regents who took time to bump one another off as such folks do. However he learned the art of Kingship, also developing into a very literate and wise scholar. He rejoiced to be considered a scholar, writing books and translating parts of the bible himself. Once he took effective control of Scotland James managed to ensure an uneasy peace between the squabbling nobles and even between himself and the Calvinist Kirk. James married Anne of Denmark in 1589, he was 23, she 14. Social services are pursing their lips as we speak. She presented him with seven live children, suffered two still births and thee miscarriages. Life was tough for women in those days.

Political tact from James and leading English nobles prepared the way for James to peacefully take the throne of England as well as Scotland after Elizabeth had departed. Swapping 'a stony couch for a feather bed' James was amazed at the wealth in England. He had been somewhat lax with control of his own spending while in Scotland. After being supposedly assaulted by Alexander Ruthven, James' page 'run him through,' and Ruthven's father, the Earl of Gowrie also died in the following melee. The point that interested the scandal mags of the time was the coincidence that James owed this family a lot of money. Hmmm One of James great ideas once in control, was to merge the parliaments of Scotland and England, and he began to style himself King of Great Britain and Ireland. However the Scots nobles and populace were very much against this, and rightly so, but at that time the English also opposed such a merger and both nations continued with separate parliaments, law, and church. No oil in Scotland at that time obviously!

James became world renown when he produced his new translation of the bible in 1611, that collection of God breathed books that reveal the heart of God. James intention was to end the many religious squabbles then existing, which also endangered his own reign. It was demanded that all previous versions of this book were banned and only the Authorised Version used in all churches. It was also demanded that everyone attend the Church of England, or the church of Scotland, and refusal could mean death by burning. This less from religious than political scruples. The area I live in was a hotbed of dissent at the time and several became martyrs. His attempt to implement episcopacy in Scotland failed dismally, even though he returned to Scotland, once, to implement this. His failure left many problems in days to come for his son Charles the First.

James dream of a United Kingdom arrived in 1707, after much duplicity from England, and treachery from a parcel of Scottish rogues, the population still objecting strongly. Next September this wrong may well be righted of course. James died in 1625 after years of physical suffering, not helped by too much wine. Arthritis, fainting fits, gout and kidney troubles must have made his life a painful one at the end. So the first of the Stuart line died and was mourned by his people for the mostly peaceful years of his long reign. A far from perfect man he was nevertheless quite successful in many of his endevours. He left a kingdom at peace, and also a son and heir Charles the First, that of course ended the peace!



Helen Devries said...

Good to see him celebrated for once.

Lee said...

At first from your titleI thought you meant my favourite chef - Jamie Oliver!

A few of our present politicians deserve a fate similar to one of which you spoke because they couldn't run a bun fight, let alone a country!!

Adullamite said...

Helen, I celebrate every day.....maybe....

Lee, Jamie who....?

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

@ Lee: (Snicker.)