James I

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Portrait of King James by Daniel Mytens, 1621
James Stuart (1566–1625) was King of Scots (as James VI) from the abdication of his mother, Mary Queen of Scots, in 1567, and King of England and Ireland (as James I) from the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. When James was seven months old his father, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, was murdered; later that year Mary was imprisoned and forced to abdicate. She never saw him again, and she was eventually executed by order of Elizabeth I in 1587. James had been baptised in the Catholic church, but was brought up a protestant.

On James's accession to the English throne there was a saying Rex fuit Elizabeth, nunc est regina Jacobus (Latin for "Elizabeth was King, now James is Queen"). The start of his reign was marked by the failed Gunpowder Plot (Guy Fawkes was discovered with barrels of gunpowder in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament, 5 November 1605).

The King James Bible

James's lasting legacy is the Authorised Version (or King James Version) of the Bible, published 1611.


James was married and had seven children (and is the ancestor of all subsequent British monarchs), but was noted for his relationships with men, including Esmé Stewart (Duke of Lennox), Robert Carr (Earl of Somerset) and George Villiers (Duke of Buckingham). "His habit of fondling [his young favourites], and especially Buckingham, in public gave rise to suspicions of baser intimacies in private, but these are not proved."[1] However James's book Basilikon Doron condemns sodomy as a crime "ye are bound in conscience never to forgive". David Bergeron's (1999) book 'King James and letters of erotic desire' was listed in LGBT History Month 2024 as one of seven books recommended by LSE librarian Heather Dawson [2].


  1. Godfrey Davies, The Early Stuarts (Oxford History of England), 1937, p 2
  2. https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/lsereviewofbooks/2024/02/05/seven-recommended-reads-for-lgbt-history-month-2024/ (accessed 6 February 2024)