James I of England (James VI of Scotland) (1566–1625)
King of Scotland who succeeded the last Tudor monarch, Queen Elizabeth in 1603 as King James I. The first monarch of the Stuart dynasty, he was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the Duke of Albany. When Mary abdicated her throne in 1567, James became by right of inheritance the king of Scotland, although he was only one year old at the time. Royal power in Scotland was in the hands of several regents, while the country was divided between Catholics, who sought an alliance with France, and Protestants, who wanted closer relations with England. James assumed authority over Scotland in 1583 and proved a skilled diplomat, especially in his dealings with England and Elizabeth. When Elizabeth permitted the execution of his mother Mary, James did nothing in order to prove his loyalty. This action, and descent from the sister of King Henry VIII, earned James the throne of England on Elizabeth's death in 1603.
After succeeding Elizabeth, however, James ruled with a heavy hand over the English Parliament, toward which he showed hostility and indifference. At the Hampton Court Conference, he refused to allow religious tolerance for English Puritans, a stand that eventually drove many of the Puritans to exile and settlement in North America. There were several plots against his life and reign, with the most famous being the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, when Guy Fawkes was arrested while caught with dozens of barrels of gunpowder underneath the House of Lords. Two years later, Parliament prevented the union of Scotland and England, which James supported. The king indulged himself with expensive luxuries and reigned over a court of incompetent and corrupt ministers, giving rise to an anti-Stuart rebellion that finally flared into civil war in the 1640s, during the reign of his son Charles I.
Under James, England began establishing colonies in North America in Massachusetts and Virginia. James was the author of several works on politics and government, including The True Law of Free Monarchy, in which he explained his belief in the divine right of kings to rule by their own will. He is also known for commissioning a translation of the Bible into English. This King James Version, first published in 1611, has remained the standard text of the Bible for the Protestant, English-speaking world to the present day.
See Also: Elizabeth I; England; Scotland