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James I, King of Great Britain (1566-1625) [James VI of Scotland and I of England]

  • The only child of Mary, Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley (both great-grandchildren of Henry VII)
  • Became ruler of Scotland as an infant, following his mother’s abdication
  • Married Anne of Denmark in 1589; their children included Henry, Prince of Wales, Charles I and the ‘Winter Queen’, Elizabeth of Bohemia
  • On Elizabeth I’s death in 1603, he united the crowns of England and Scotland, moved south to England and became the first monarch of the Stuart dynasty in England.
  • Adopted the title King of Great Britain which was used by his Stuart successors although formal union of the two kingdoms did not occur until 1707.
  • Initially opposed by Catholic sympathisers, whose ‘Gunpowder Plot’ was discovered on 5 November 1605
  • Commissioned a new translation of the Bible: the Authorised Version (‘King James Bible’), published in 1611
  • Described by Clarendon as ‘That great peacemaker, Britain’s peaceful King’
  • Wrote Basilikon Doron, expounding the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings, and A Counterblaste to Tobacco, as well as many theological and political tracts
  • Commissioned numerous portraits, on both a grand and a miniature scale, to help recognition of the Stuart dynasty in England
  • Employed Inigo Jones to add the Queen’s House to Greenwich Palace, the Banqueting House to Whitehall Palace and the Queen’s Chapel to St James’s Palace
  • Founded a tapestry factory at Mortlake, Surrey

Reigned: 1567–1625 (in Scotland)
1603–25 (in England)


Objects associated with James I, King of Great Britain (1566-1625) [James VI of Scotland and I of England]