Anyone or anything even remotely connected to God, the Bible and Jesus Christ will almost certainly be attacked, smeared and undermined. King James I was certainly no exception!
Unfounded insinuations ranging from James’s freemasonry to homosexuality will naturally be examined throughout this article.
During my almost 2-year study of Oliver Cromwell, it became blindingly obvious to me that men as great as him continue to be either reviled or revered or sometimes both. Such people’s reputations have sadly been tarnished forever, unlike certain infamous tyrants, who have ‘conveniently’ escaped in-depth and thorough scrutiny.
Like Cromwell, James remains the victim of much censorious reporting and, therefore, hot on the heels of writing about another of Briton’s past beleaguered leaders, Oliver Cromwell, who successfully defeated and subsequently executed the treacherous son of King James I (King Charles I), I simply could not pass up the opportunity to write about another famous or infamous Brit (depending on one’s preference).
Another point that really must be made is how most of the people who wrote firsthand accounts back to their countries many times during the life of King James were foreign Catholic ambassadors living in London. So, without totally dismissing or discarding everything they wrote, one should be wise to appreciate that they were hardly impartial, and this should be kept in mind when consulting such sources.
Over two nights in early January, I was able to sit down and read Antonia Fraser’s well-written 214-page book James VI of Scotland King I of England, which I happily recommend to anyone wanting to know more about possibly Britain’s most overlooked king.
Other books and sources are listed at the end of this article.
Fraser states very eloquently: “James was not called the British Solomon in vain. His love of learning was genuine, deep-seated, and surely admirable by any standards except those of the most resolutely anti-intellectual Englishmen… His contribution as a skilful and tenacious King of Scotland – in many ways the most successful King Scotland ever had – is often ignored: while the legacy of problems he inherited in England is overlooked.”
King James’s murderous and tempestuous arrival
James Stuart of Scotland was born to Catholic parents in Edinburgh Castle on 19th June 1566. He was the only child born to cousins Mary Queen of Scots and Henry Stuart (Lord Darnley). Cruel and unfounded rumours of his illegitimacy quickly spread, but like all men born to be great, this wasn’t going to hold him back later in life.
The same wicked and deplorable slur (not to mention totally salacious and unfounded) would be shamefully aimed at Jesus by wicked and apostate unbelieving Jews (see John 8:41).
Mary paid £12,000 for James’s Catholic baptism. His father Henry refused to attend. VIPs brought lavish gifts to the newborn king, much like the Magi had done for the King of the Jews (see Matthew 2).
During James’s ostentatious baptism, which his godmother Queen Elizabeth did not attend, Mary bravely refused the vulgar Catholic custom of the day (not scriptural whatsoever) of the priest actually spitting into the mouth of newly born babies!
James would be born into a very difficult, disruptive and dysfunctional family. By that time, Mary had married her second husband Henry, after burying her first, who died when only sixteen. During her first marriage to a prince in France, Mary was sixteen and Francis fourteen when they married in 1558 at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, and the overall consensus suggests theirs was a childless, unhappy, and loveless marriage.
By the age of twenty-four, following the suspicious death of Henry, she would marry her third and final husband, the chief suspect in Henry’s brutal murder!
During one late evening, a heavily pregnant Mary was summoned by a furious and jealous Henry to witness him and others brutally interrogating and torturing one of Mary’s close male servants, an Italian Catholic singer, David Riccio. Shocked and stunned, she was forced to observe his public execution by Henry and others, for Henry was convinced she had been unfaithful with him and may, in fact, have been James’s real father.
Some claim Riccio was a secret spy sent from Rome, for upon his death, a handsome sum of £2,000 was found on him, even though his annual salary was a mere £80.
Mary strenuously denied this to Henry’s face and implored him to believe her and release Riccio, but to no avail. Fraser suggests Mary and the unborn James were also his intended victims during that awful bloodcurdling night, for at one stage a pistol was pointed at blank range at her womb.
Mary miraculously and skillfully managed to talk Henry and his sadistic cohorts out of shedding further blood, and then succeeded in escaping for her life after charming Henry into fleeing with her before the rest of the perpetrators killed them both. So, under the cover of darkness, the royal family of three (including their unborn son) ran for their lives at midnight on horseback from Edinburgh to Dunbar, a distance of some 29 miles.
In Mary Queen of Scots, Fraser further gives a graphic description, stating how the innocent Riccio was stabbed up to sixty times with daggers by a handful of assailants, but not before being dragged, screaming and kicking, out of the queen’s chamber. His bloodstained corpse was then dragged down the winding main staircase, later to be stripped of its belongings by a porter. Such a brutal and savage attack, not to mention public for all to see, borders almost on a demonic ritual!
Once Mary temporarily regained her power, she ordered Riccio’s savaged corpse to be buried in her own chapel royal.
This desperate midnight dash to safety is credited for later life-changing injuries young James would tragically inherit upon birth. Stewart suggests James was, in fact, unable to walk until age six, due to weak legs.
During this time and just six weeks before James’s birth, Mary approached Rome for a divorce. Mary would not only appoint Riccio’s brother as her personal secretary but partially pardoned some of his murderers.
God clearly had intervened to save Mary’s son’s life, much like He had done for another Mary and her Son Jesus (see Matthew 2). The amazing number of similarities between Jesus and James are incredible, and this article will attempt to list them all.
The ongoing pernicious insinuations concerning James’s illegitimacy would haunt him well into adulthood. King Henry IV of France (Henry of Navarre) publicly mocked him about this, causing further pain to an already scarred son of Scotland.
James, of course, never believed such lies and would later go on to name his firstborn son after his late father Henry.
With Mary being unstable and Henry weak, James really had the most appalling and unfortunate, not to mention most harrowing, start to early life. His father Henry contracted syphilis, and sometime later, he would awake in the dead of night to the sound of intruders in his home, then as he desperately tried to flee, was cornered in the garden, where several men strangled him and his sole male servant. Historians have been split over the centuries as to whether or not Mary’s hand was in this. According to Stewart, Mary believed Elizabeth had been behind this!
Gunpowder was further used to destroy what remained of Henry’s home.
Fraser records young Darnley’s dying words, “Pity me, kinsmen, for the sake of Jesus Christ, who pitied all the world…” His pleas fell on deaf ears. Barely twenty-one, Scotland’s scheming king was now dead.
In the lead up to his death, Henry suffered from severe hair loss and bodily ailments. Poison was of course suggested.
(A street in Sterling is named after James’s father)
In Mary Queen of Scots Fraser states: “That she [Mary] wished to be rid of Darnley, much as Henry II had once exclaimed ‘Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?’ of Thomas a Becket.”
One of the main suspects behind Henry’s murder was James Hepburn (Lord Bothwell), who just happened to be Mary’s third and final husband, and according to Fraser, was not only a notorious adulterer, but also a homosexual and dabbler in black magic! Bothwell boasted in his book Confession to successfully seducing the queen through the dark arts!
Also astonishingly to me was how the former papal nuncio wrote to Mary, recommending she marry the above reprobate!
Bothwell would later get his comeuppance, dying like a vagrant in a Danish prison, suffering from insanity! But before he succumbed to his grim demise, he would be “chained to a pillar half his height like an animal, so that he could never stand upright.” He was also held without trial for eleven long torturing years without any trial!
With Scotland becoming more and more divided and falling further and further into disarray and disaster, Mary was put under compulsory house arrest. At twenty-four, she would never see her beloved son again, who was barely a year old. The bond between mother and son was forever shattered and severed.
Part of Mary’s humiliation after spectacularly falling from grace saw her totally deprived of the most basic level of privacy and decency. Bothwell (now her lover) ordered his men not only to keep her under lock and key but also ordered his men to remain with her in close proximity at all times, even when she dressed and undressed.
And yet in spite of such an initial fall from grace, during Mary’s time in the Midlands, she would be permitted a stable of horses, a greyhound, caged birds from France and even turtle doves! Her aide and treasurer, a man named Dolin, was blamed for her jewels later being stolen.
She would also be successful in having secret priests smuggled into saying mass for her, with one being a Jesuit.
Her marriage to Bothwell was clearly a sham, and took place, mainly for political and strategic purposes.
Some writers paint James as a cold and callous man who refused to lift a finger to help his imprisoned mother, but one would do well to appreciate the scarring he experienced, not to mention a false sense of abandonment he may have felt, losing both parents before being a toddler!
Queen Mary and John Knox
In the excellent book The Cradle King, Alan Stewart suggests how the writings of the ultra-Calvinist John Knox personally poisoned young James’s mind against his Catholic mother. (Knox, like John Calvin, also believed in killing/removing ungodly and immoral leaders. Fraser further declares how Knox welcomed the unjustified murder of Riccio.)
(St. Giles Cathedral. John Knox’s church in Edinburgh)
It should be stated how when Mary was being held under house arrest in Coventry, she had in fact written to James and even sent him a pony when he was just over three, but Elizabeth’s agents made sure such a gift and heartfelt note never reached young James. Such interference further underscores the long-term scarring Scotland’s young Solomon would have to live with.
In Mary Queen of Scots Fraser records a cordial meeting between Mary and Knox in 1563, when she invited him to the island of Lochleven. On the agenda was her desire to ‘befriend him’ or somehow ‘win his approval.’ Both enjoyed a long and fairly friendly discourse in the great hall of the castle. Fraser further goes on to say: “Mary asked Knox to abate the persecution of the Catholics, especially in the western regions of Scotland, where it was fierce, and Knox in return asked her to administer the laws of her kingdom, which had made Catholicism illegal.”
Mary also seems to have somewhat ‘charmed’ Knox, in that she managed to get him to ‘mediate’ between her half-sister, Jean Stewart, who was going through a very difficult and public dispute with her husband, the Earl of Argyll. Knox did indeed attempt to reconcile the warring couple but when that failed, he wrote a stern letter to the earl on matrimonial problems. Neither queen nor reformer was able to save the marriage, and a divorce followed.
Darnley, the notorious drunken Catholic, once attended one of Knox’s famous ‘thundering’ sermons at St. Giles Church: we can only hazard a guess as to what impression, if any, this left on him).
Future meetings were explosive and furious, ranging from her attempted marriages with Catholics to her constant participation in the mass, as she travelled her kingdom.
Knox would cry in utter exasperation: “Deliver us, O Lord, from idolatry.”
Such Scriptural statements from protestant Knox quickly landed him in trouble after he sided with fellow Protestants who had broken into the “royal chapel in Mary’s absence and broke up the Mass of her household.” Due to his support of their actions he was charged with treason, to which quite surprising he was declared ‘not guilty.’
To further strain an already strained relationship, the fifty-year-old widowed Knox married his second wife, the seventeen-year-old Margaret Stewart, daughter of Lord Ochiltree, who was one of ‘Mary’s own kin – of her own blood and name.’ To add salt to wounds, Knox deliberately proposed and married Margaret without Mary’s permission. To call such ‘a breach of royal protocol’ is to put it mildly.
Fraser further suggests how Knox, at least once in his lifetime, ‘expressed admiration for her,’ as she set off in anger on horseback and, armed with her own pistol, with her newlywed second husband in search of her treacherous half-brother Moray, who had angrily resisted her marriage and sought money and support from Elizabeth for the Protestant cause in Scotland.
It should be stated how powerless and young James was when his mother was arrested. For much of his life and rule in Scotland, he lived in very precarious conditions. And to be fair to James, he knew all too well that his mother was constantly trying to undermine and dethrone him. But love her he did, until her death.
Stewart also states how Bothwell raped Mary before she was imprisoned, later causing her to miscarry twins in her cell.
Her final marriage was a Protestant one (just three months after her second husband’s murder) and it seems to have been forced upon her, with her weeping inconsolably and even threatening to kill herself, leading up to the actual moment of marriage.
To suggest Mary was at times bipolar is a fair diagnosis. One author suggested, she suffered from epileptic fits, baldness and needed regular wigs.
Cruel Bothwell taunted her and may have even confessed to his hand in Lord Darnley’s murder, and how his own father had been intimate with Mary’s own mother, Mary of Guise!
When news reached James about his mother’s execution (for she was beheaded) he was genuinely distraught.
In Mary Queen of Scots, Fraser offers an interesting account concerning Mary’s almost near-death incident, shortly after giving birth to James: “When father Edmund Hay, a Jesuit in Paris on his way to Scotland, reported the scene round the bedside of the apparently dying woman in a letter to St Francis Borgia on 6th November he said that, although she affirmed her desire to die in the (Catholic) religion which her predecessors… she frankly admitted that she had been neglectful not only in government of the realm but also, and chiefly, in promoting the Catholic religion.”
As will be demonstrated throughout this article, Mary, although born and baptized a Catholic, was more of a pan-Christian Catholic than her fellow peers would have liked and expected her to be.
King James, the boy king
Upon his mother’s incarceration, James was crowned King of Scotland. Barely a toddler, this poor orphan king, hated by many and frowned upon by others, was clearly beloved by the King of kings, and Lord of lords, The Lord God Almighty.
(Rare King James coin)
The coronation of children was nothing new in Scotland. Mary had been just six days old when crowned Queen. Even wealthy ‘child-popes’ during the dark ages found themselves sitting on the fictitious and spurious “throne of Peter.”
Fraser suggests that James, the love-deprived prince, raised by strict and unloving foster parents, would later embrace homosexuality, when one of his French cousins, Esme Stuart visited him in Scotland. According to her, this was the first time anybody had ever shown him any real love or affection, and therefore he quickly embraced this.
Stewart goes one step further, suggesting the pope had sent Esme incognito to help steal Scotland away from James and become a puppet leader for the pope, and how his cousin encouraged James to start writing to his imprisoned mother, in the hope of a reunion, and again, in submission to Rome.
Queen Elizabeth saw right through Esme and wrote to James warning him about his covert Catholic cousin, even offering manpower to deal with this subtle and deceptive Catholic infiltration, but James, ever the timid King, refused to heed her warnings. Eventually, Esme (also known as Lennox) was forced out of Scotland and would die a mysterious death back in his native country of France!
Before James was five, he had been raised under three regents. Every possible precaution was taken to guard and protest the young King during his stay at Stirling Castle. The same would be done for James’s future son Prince Henry, the Prince of Wales.
During one lesson in which George Buchanan, James’s private tutor, was inflicting corporal punishment on him, one of James’s caring aides ran to his rescue after hearing his cries. How dare you strike the Lord’s anointed,” she shouted at Buchanan. This goes some way in dismissing the numerous claims of James being “love-struck” and neglected. This brave nurse jumped to his defence and temporarily drove Buchanan back!
Tragically, however, around this time, young James personally witnessed the murder of his grandfather from gunshot wounds. More pain and misery for an already vulnerable child, destined to be Britain’s finest, and more importantly, the commissioner of the King James Bible.
By the time of James’s eighteenth birthday, he had, directly and indirectly, witnessed six deaths in and around his royal household.
To try and understand the relationship between James’s parents it must be remembered that they married young and were raised in different countries. (Mary, although born in Scotland, had been brought up in France, whereas Henry was born and raised in England.) Mary would also initially refuse to elevate Henry to her equal as she had done for her first husband. This naturally bred resentment and, therefore, goes some way in understanding their tempestuous marriage.
In Mary Queen of Scots, Fraser offers the following concerning the soon-to-be couple when they first met: “She [Mary] merely saw and admired his charming exterior, which, like a delightful red shiny apple ready for eating, gave no hint of the maggots which lay inside.”
Henry has also been accused of bewitching and seducing his young and soon-to-be wife. While all the evidence points to Mary being in love with Henry, there is little evidence to suggest he was ever really in love with her. Some also suggest Elizabeth sent him covertly north of the border to infiltrate Mary’s royal court.
One additional and interesting footnote, written of course from the standpoint of Antonia Fraser, a Roman Catholic herself, is how ‘technically,’ she suggests, their Catholic marriage was in fact ‘invalid,’ due to Rome not issuing a dispensation for her second marriage in time for their marriage. (They married on Sunday, 29 July, between 5 and 6 a.m., but the papal dispensation arrived some weeks after it was issued mid to late September). Mary wanted this due to the fact that she and Henry were step-first-cousins. As they married before it arrived, Fraser and perhaps other Catholics take such a view.
However, Mary had promised Henry when he was older (he was only nineteen when they married) that she would indeed make him King, her co-equal when older and more mature. But some of Mary’s closest aides and dignitaries hated him and refused to call him ‘your Majesty’. This clearly caused more strain and contempt in the royal court, resulting in Henry being a deadly and slowly ticking time bomb just waiting to explode!
(It must be stated that Henry was, in fact, the great-grandson to King Henry VII and, therefore, had a legal and legitimate claim to the English throne in his own right.)
After failing to secure help from England and France, Mary successfully escaped her house arrest due to help from within Scotland, but foolishly and somewhat naïvely thought she would find solace in England. Upon arrival, however, her cousin Queen Elizabeth had her re-arrested and put in prison on charges that Mary sought Elizabeth’s death. Parliament also believed Mary to be guilty of this plot.
It should further be stated how Mary’s uncle was, in fact, a French cardinal and how Mary was able to fall back on Rome’s vast wealth and mercenaries, should she ever have need of such. In brief, she cunningly played London and Rome off against one another, much as her future son would do.
Also of interest in Fraser’s book Mary Queen of Scots is her description of Mary’s dichotomy: “Mary also refused quite flatly to consider sending Scottish priests to the Council of Trent [the birthplace of the deplorable Jesuits]… Equally, when a college for training Catholic priests was suggested to her, Mary dismissed it on the word as ‘impracticable.’”
Satan not only had successfully destroyed James’s parents, but after exposing him when so young to Catholics, Protestants, gangsters and evil clansmen, he failed to kill James outright when Mary was six or seven months pregnant and, therefore, students of Scripture should always come down on the side of caution when attempting to correctly profile and understand someone as complex as James Stuart.
(Fraser suggests James was conceived around mid-September 1565, and not born prematurely, as some speculate.)
Mary had also been reared in a dysfunctional and depraved environment, for she had illegitimate half-brothers, and has already been stated, may have suffered from bipolar disorder herself.
Her Scottish father King James V was most promiscuous and died at the age of just thirty!
It has also been suggested that her bloodline was a cursed one, resulting in mental and physical sickness, ranging from James V to George III.
King James, the child genius
When just eight, James could read and translate the Bible in Latin, French and English, and had studied and mastered Greek, geography, astronomy and a litany of other subjects. By fifteen he was writing poetry too; he was clearly a type of Solomon. To call him a genius is no exaggeration.
(James outside John Knox’s home in Edinburgh)
He would also enjoy music as well.
As a young boy, he thanks God twice, in a letter.
James was raised in the Calvinist Reformed system. Scotland was half Catholic, half Calvinist. To be fair, he was a moderate Calvinist, even writing against Calvinism (TULIP) later in life.
Fraser says of him how “energetic he was with an enormous amount of interest too in all forms of theological discussions and disputes” (like young Jesus, see Luke 3). Sadly, Britain has long lost such a monarch.
During meals, James would have clerics waiting on him, so as to consult and discuss Scriptural subjects. James was well known as a “living library” and a “walking study.” But at times he leaned more towards Church history concerning doctrines and not Biblical exegesis.
He was also known to be cruel at times, enjoying very much embarrassing his most senior aides, with less than flattering nicknames. A man very much with two natures.
His parents were both tall (Mary five feet eleven, Henry six feet one), but James, like Cromwell, was of middle height. The physical damage he endured during his mother’s desperate dash to safety was something his enemies took great delight in teasing and mocking him for.
Again, one must feel an enormous sense of sympathy and empathy for him.
Fraser says of this: “…not grossly deformed, beyond the weakness of one foot-turned permanently outwards.”
James was certainly no Joseph Merrick either, the modern-day elephant man.
During his early years, he was briefly kidnapped by ultra-Protestants. The truth of the matter is he was not afforded an army, bodyguards, or anything remotely near what his English or European counterparts enjoyed. He was very vulnerable to external and internal enemies, and this is also worth stating when attempting to explain his lack or inability in rescuing his mother from imprisonment.
As a moderate Calvinist, James criticized Geneva for celebrating papist holidays, such as Easter and Christmas. He even considered the Geneva Bible the worst English Bible ever. (His dislike of Biblical footnotes is famous, based on Exodus 1:15-22. The Authorised Version, or AV, was to have no footnotes whatsoever.)
James’s physical hindrance didn’t stop him loving golf and hunting wild animals. This passion of his seemed to have been inherited from his parents, and like Cromwell and other privileged men of his generation, he was an outdoorsman, and no physical limitation was ever going to rob him of enjoying an active life.
King James and the ‘homosexual’ slurs
When researching and writing about King James one cannot in all fairness ignore or overlook the sly and spurious suggestion about James’s alleged homosexual acts.
(Street in Oxford named after him)
Antonia Fraser and Alan Stewart are both clearly of the belief that James was a homosexual throughout his life, beginning in adolescence (today called ‘bi-sexual’). As I said at the start, men or women that are linked in any way to God and godliness can expect to be accused of pretty much everything under the sun, in ways godless and God-haters are not. Double standards, of course!
Whether or not James was a homosexual is totally immaterial to me and should be for all true born-again Bible believers, because the infallible word of God, the King James Bible, which according to Jesus cannot be broken, remains the word of God, regardless of James’s alleged sexuality; for Almighty God is the God of all sinners, and had James indulged in such a sin(s), then no doubt such would have been dealt with at the Judgment Seat of Christ upon his death.
I fully appreciate of course the damage done to James’s reputation and more importantly and specifically the book he commissioned with swirling accusations such as this continuing to do the rounds. But at the end of the day, if a child of God is looking to find a perfect person dead or alive to look up to, the only person that ever fits such a description was, of course, the blessed and beloved Lord Jesus Christ.
What I will speculate on is how the harrowing trauma he suffered before birth and into his early years possibly presented him to those around him as effeminate (possibly by today’s standards, super shy and reserved).
One rather infamous and profoundly damaging quote from James was the following: “I, James, am neither a god nor an angel, but a man like any other. Therefore I act like a man, and confess to loving those dear to me more than other men. You may be sure that I love the Earl of Buckingham more than anyone else, and more than you who are here assembled. I wish to speak in my own behalf and not to have it thought to be a defect, for Jesus Christ did the same and therefore I cannot be blamed. Christ had his John, and I have my George.”
James was probably attempting to state how his love/affection for George was much like David’s and Jonathan’s and Jesus’s and John’s (all totally innocent and platonic), although his citation is careless and has been seized on by Bible-haters and God-rejectors as a means of attacking James and the Bible which later bore his name!
In reality, Queen Elizabeth subsidised his poor Scottish kingdom. She awarded him £4,000 down and £4,000 yearly. In return, he walked a very fine line, keeping hidden from her those secret negotiations he had with Catholic Europe, as well as copious correspondence between Scotland and Rome!
His cunning character allowed him the best of both worlds, with him officially aligning himself closer to Elizabeth and the English crown but unofficially keeping all options and channels open with enemies abroad. Charles I would also do the same when secretly aligning himself to France and Spain.
During Mary’s forced detention both in Scotland and England, she had hoped somewhat naïvely to somehow co-reign with him, which in reality, he neither wanted nor was able to agree too.
Queen Elizabeth held all the cards, and both mother and son knew this.
In Mary Queen of Scots Fraser shares one interesting letter written to Mary from Pope Pius V months before James’s birth, which gives justified credence to the long-held belief of Catholic interference in foreign protestant lands: “…Truly, dearest daughter, you understand the duties of devout kings and queens… [to weed out completely] the thorns and tears of heretical depravity.” Fraser goes on to say how Pius “promised all the help possible in this worthwhile task.”
King James’s marriage to Anne of Denmark
After the death of Mary and during a 15-day prayer/fast, James made his sole overseas voyage to Denmark, where he met and married his cousin, the fourteen-year-old Anne (Anna) of Denmark. James was aged twenty-three. They were blessed to have nine children (two died in miscarriages), and only three survived to adulthood. (Intriguingly, James had once been lined up to marry the pope’s niece.)
(Statue of Queen Anne in Kingston, London)
James was a loving and caring father. He would write to Henry to be a good godly boy and avoid adultery. Stewart suggests Henry was not permitted to ever be left alone and as such, even his mother was refused access to him. Stewart further suggests how Anne twice attempted to ‘steal’ him away more than once. The stress of this resulted in a miscarriage.
Some stated how they saw the young and popular, not to mention anti-swearing pious prince, the true king-in-waiting. Stewart even reports how some were of the belief that James was directly involved in the death of his beloved eighteen-year-old son due to excessive jealousy. An absurd claim, I say!
James blamed himself and his sins as punishment from God for Henry’s untimely death.
When young Henry died (possibly of typhoid or porphyria), James was so sick himself that tragically he was unable to attend his funeral at Westminster Abbey, leaving Anne, his grief-stricken wife, the unenviable task of burying their firstborn son alone.
The terrible feeling of loss and grief affected Anne so much that some four years later when Charles was installed as the Prince of Wales, she failed to attend.
Once, King of Britain, James ordered his mother’s body to be moved and subsequently buried in Westminster Abbey, where his deceased children were also buried.
Stewart states, however, how Anne’s maiden trip to Scotland to meet her husband-to-be almost failed to safely reach the British Isles, for incredibly, it took three months to eventually arrive. On route, storms and winds, some deaths and major delays, caused James to panic and call for a fast. Eventually, he lost patience and set sail in sight for his fiancée (they had married in proxy). Upon their eventual meeting, the pair married within just four days.
The bright and doting couple were both bilingual and enjoyed conversing in Latin and French in the moments leading up to their rapid wedding.
Fraser records the following and somewhat tragic account: “The wedding ceremony, performed then and there, was also marred by mishap: the four Negroes, commissioned by James to dance artistically in the snow, all subsequently perished of pneumonia.”
It has been suggested that James subconsciously under-married Anne, much like his mother had done. But James and Anne’s marriage does seem to have been a happy and authentic one.
During their honeymoon, James, unfortunately, acquired a taste for alcohol, something he would savour for the rest of his life.
(Public house named after him in Oxford)
On their route back to Scotland (they sailed in a 13-strong ship formation), Anne received a Sunday anointing as Queen, something certain clerics did not wish to do, it being the Lord’s Day (called the Sabbath by Reformed persons). The Protestant coronation lasted seven hours, in which Anne took an oath to God and country.
James and others believed how a pack of witches had plotted with their evil spells to thwart Anne’s ship safely arriving and tried to eliminate the King too.
What certainly cannot be denied and played down was the reoccurring and secret Jesuitical infiltration into Scotland and even England. One wonders how the ‘Holy See’ would take to British espionage on their shores! I think we know of course – death, and the most appalling and public display at that!
Much material appears online about Anne’s faith, with some suggesting she converted to Catholicism later in life. If true, this may explain why Charles married a Catholic woman, and aligned himself to a foreign Catholic power, and not his own Protestant Parliament. What can be confirmed however is how their marriage began well but with the death of their four children they drifted and lived apart until their deaths. James also must not be exonerated for Charles’s poor choice of a Catholic spouse, for he had been responsible for eight years of negotiations with Catholic Spain, hoping to arrange the marriage between the princess of Spain and the prince of England.
Upon the death of Anne, James was severely distraught. Along with their children’s death, this almost certainly speeded up his own just six years later. Coincidently, Anne was the same age as James’s mother, just forty-four when death came in 1619. James died in 1625.
Anne had suffered blindness and liver failure. She forbad even her husband to attend to her in her dying days. One cannot help but feel she remained bitter towards him due to his choice of the upbringing of their beloved Henry. (She was not permitted to see Henry or spend time with him for most of his adolescent years).
Due to James being senile in later years, he was not able to attend Anne’s funeral. They had not lived together for the last 10 years of her life, so when she died, it still came as a painful blow.
King James and witchcraft
Fraser shares a fascinating and freighting account concerning James interrogating a witch: “He claimed that she told him details of his conversation on his wedding night with Anne of Denmark …. matters which he swore that all the devils in hell could not have discovered.”
(Unusual statue commemorating James’s support of plumbers near St. Paul’s Cathedral)
Much has been said about James’s ‘hatred’ of witches and witchcraft in general, but he certainly never had any directly executed, unlike his Catholic counterparts on the continent. As a Protestant monarch, he would have been incompetent, if not negligent, had he not spoken against such wickedness, as he would also against sodomy and even tobacco smoking.
The problem with so many of today’s past and present historians is that nearly all of them are unregenerate and, therefore, do not understand or believe in a literal devil, in evil or in God’s judgment on such. Yet, while they seem more than capable of passing their own secular judgments against men like James, they cannot or simply will not direct the same level of scrutiny towards the popes and Catholic monarchs living on the continent during the same time! Double standards again!
Around this time of James (King in Scotland and nowhere near as powerful as his English counterpart Queen Elizabeth) was having secret dealings with certain Catholics behind Elizabeth’s back. He even wrote to the pope, something Elizabeth would have censored him for and probably severed his financial umbilical cord forever.
Cromwell was also known to be a shrewd old bird! Yet Pope Sixtus V wanted the ‘heretic’ James forever banished.
On top of this, he blackmailed Elizabeth into giving him more lands in the north and naming him as her successor. He further threatened to use Scottish and Spanish troops to invade England, with France also offering assistance.
Such tactics seem unpatriotic and even treacherous to students of history! But James was perhaps bluffing more than anything else.
Fraser gives another account concerning Rome’s desperation to booster up Mary Queen of Scots and her kingdom shortly before her house arrest: “A papal nuncio, the bishop of Mondovi, was dispatched, bearing 150,000 crowns in gold from the pope, intended to help the queen combat the heretics [Protestants]; but now as before, Queen Mary showed an absolute disinclination to receive the nuncio on Scottish soil, on grounds that his arrival would occasion ‘great tumults’”.
It appears to me that Mary, while never abandoning her Catholicism, also walked a very fine line: letters flowed back and forth between her and Rome, with her continuing to reassure the papacy, she was still a good Catholic girl while being old enough to know that her real power base and support came from Scotland and not elsewhere.
The much-used term today in political circles is the “middle way,” a term James is credited with coining. Fraser says of James: “He was ever for the medium in everything.”
He was friends with the Spanish ambassador in London and wanted more tolerance towards Catholics. One simply cannot imagine a Catholic King in Catholic Europe wanting or feeling this way towards Protestants in such a nation.
James was also the first monarch to put Anglican bishops into the House of Lords.
James and the Jesuits
If there is one thing that separates James from other monarchs, it must be his tenacity and public hatred of the Jesuits. When twenty-two he spent the entire winter reading and studying the book of Revelation, in preparation for a public five-hour debate with a Jesuit priest, a James Gordon. Needless to say, James wiped the floor with him, something the Society of Jesus (an awful term, I know) never forgot or forgave James for.
James would later cross theological swords with another Jesuit priest, a Robert Parsons. It was reported James gave him ‘a sound thrashing.’
If one wants to know more about what the consequences are for brave men such as King James or even Abraham Lincoln when he too confronted the Jesuits, study carefully John Wilkes Booth and the Catholic Church’s involvement with Lincoln’s assassination.
Copious letters went back and forth between king and pope in the year of 1599, with James suggesting a possible conversion to Catholicism, something he never really would have done, but again, it goes some way in demonstrating his conniving mind, and of course, the need for him to buy as much time as he could, while keeping papal enemies and her agents the Jesuits at bay for as long as possible.
The pope would ban one of James’s books, and numerous Jesuitical books were, of course, penned against James. But one must always wonder why Darwin’s book against the Bible and God – “Origin of the Species” and Marx’s “Das Kapital,” a communist and atheist agenda, were never on any papal banning list of books!
King James crowned King of England
By the spring and summer of 1603, and a year before the King James Bible was commissioned, James Stuart had finally come of age. He was thirty-seven and from this day forth would be Britain’s greatest King and subsequent gift to the world.
(Hampton Court Palace, London)
For God’s word says the following about kings: “Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou?” (Ecclesiastes 8:4).
Fraser also offers the following and glowing sentiment about the Authorised Version: “It was an appropriate gift to his country from the new Arthur.”
By this stage in the life of Scotland’s finest son and sovereign, Satan had tried and failed twice to eliminate him, much like he had attempted to do not only to another King, the Lord Jesus Christ, but also Moses, the potential successor to Pharaoh, King of Egypt.
As has already been stated, most historians fail miserably to comprehend such Satanic wickedness towards those that God has earmarked out for great things. The orphan king from almost poverty-stricken Scotland was now Britain’s Solomon, and the book that would carry his name – the King James Bible – would forever change the world.
One of the first things James successfully did was to unite Scotland and England, along with Wales and Northern Ireland, into one United Kingdom. He was now king over all of Great Britain, a term he coined himself.
Fraser has an interesting quote about the transition from one sovereign to another, from the pen of a Jesuit, of all people: “…William Weston noticed the strange silence which descended on the whole city of London in honour of the dying Queen, with no bells and bugles heard, as if it were under interdict and divine worship suspended.”
James, like Anthony Eden who replaced the very popular Winston Churchill, initially struggled to live up to people’s expectations of him. Elizabeth I was England’s beloved queen, whereas James was from Scotland, so some were naturally snobbish and weary of their new king.
As one might appreciate how it can be rather difficult and delicate to attempt to separate fact from fiction when it comes to the legacy and legend of King James. Fraser states how James’s Court enjoyed drunken parties, with James himself being accused of neglecting the affairs of State to gratify his hunting passion. (James almost drowned during one riding incident, when his horse catapulted him into a lake.)
The nation was also heavily in debt then, much like today.
One mustn’t be too naive or be in denial when it comes to someone as powerful and pre-eminent as James potentially indulging in such acts, for he too, like everyone else that was saved in Scripture, had two natures.
King James and the Gunpowder Plot
Fraser suggests an interesting theory, how the gunpowder plot was, in fact, a modern-day ‘inside job.’ Robert Cecil, James’s chief spy, orchestrated the whole thing to increase the State’s power over the nation, especially the Catholics. Guy Fawkes, she further suggests, was an agent provocateur (a double agent) no less who was, of course, sacrificed and then thrown to the wolves.
(Scotland’s Golden Mile near Edinburgh Castle)
She further suggests there is no evidence James knew about Cecil’s clever and conniving plot, but due to James’s “neurotic fears concerning his safety,” Cecil was able to use this to further his gains and preeminence in James’s inner circle.
Alan Stewart states the following concerning James’s feelings: “Fawkes had confessed that there was no cause moving him or them, but merely and only religion, namely his Roman Catholic faith. What did it mean, asked James, that Christian men, at least so-called, English, born within the country… should practice the destruction of their King, his posterity, their country and all? James further and wisely went on to say, that [not] all professing that Romanish religion were guilty of the same.”
James was clearly asking what many today ask: how and why men born into the religion of Islam (Fawkes being Catholic, of course), living and born in England, and yet some wage their own private war of jihad against their own nation, a nation and people that have given them so much. Such are traitors of course, and Fawkes was no different! Clearly, such people have allegiances elsewhere, and quite fairly should be stripped of their citizenships.
Stewart goes on: “On the other, it is true, that no other sect of heretics, not excepting Turk, Jew, nor Pagan, no not even those of Calicut, who adore the Devil, did ever maintain by their grounds of their religion, that it was lawful, or rather meritorious (as the Roman Catholics call it) to murder princes of people for quarrel of Religion.”
As the Jesuits like to say, “the ends justify the means”!
To try and stamp out this insurgency and further Catholic terrorism, Parliament introduced an Oath of Allegiance, something “many lay Catholics chose to take, justifying it to themselves on the grounds that it did not insist that they abjure their faith; Jesuits and priests who refused to take it, however, were banished from the realm.”
The same happened under the government of Cromwell, for many Catholics in Ireland were more than happy to be liberated, much like how many Palestinians feel towards Israeli rule.
Those that had planned to eliminate the King and his family were naturally executed, something that would have occurred on the Catholic continent in a flash of an eye at the same time.
The audacious plan involved ten months of underground digging, twenty barrels of gunpowder and the use of thirty men! (See Acts 23, where another group of religious zealots and bigots tried to murder the righteous apostle Paul.) They had also planned to kidnap Princess Elizabeth who was left scared and scarred by the ordeal for months afterwards.
James was convinced they had wanted to totally destroy him, the Church and the Commons.
Stewart shares the following and touching note later written from Elizabeth to her father James, shortly after her wedding: “I shall, perhaps, never see again the flower of princes, the king of fathers, the best and most amiable father that the sun will ever see. But the very humble respect and devotion with which I shall ceaselessly honour him, your majesty can never efface from the memory of her, who awaits in this place a favourable wind.”
This was the third and most brazen attack on his life. Satan was once again planning and hoping to kill Britain’s King Solomon, but had failed miserably to return Britain to popery!
Bizarrely, around this time, James was depressed, due to the pope’s intention of excommunicating him. To call James a closet Catholic would be wrong and unfair, but it appears at times he wanted the best of both worlds: a strong Protestant Britain with cordial relations with Rome.
Such was impossible, as James correctly stated: “I have dispatches from Rome informing me that the Pope intends to excommunicate me; the Catholics threaten to dethrone me and to take my life unless I grant them liberty of conscience. I shall most certainly be obliged to stain my hands with their blood, though sorely against my will. But they shall not think they can frighten me, for they shall taste of the agony first. I do not know upon what they found this cursed doctrine that they are permitted to plot against the lives of princes. Sometimes I am amazed that when I see that the princes of Christendom are so blinded that they do not perceive the great injury inflicted on them by so false a doctrine.”
Pope Paul V incredibly issued an edict “asserting that English Catholics could not take the Oath with safety of their salvation.” Stewart states further: “Then in September 1607, Cardinal Robert Bellarmine wrote to the English Archpriest George Blackwell, reproving him for taking the Oath, which he claimed was tantamount to abjuring allegiance to the Vicar of Christ.”
Such absurdity and Catholic bullying further go to prove how certain Catholics, wherever they live around the world, especially in non-Catholic countries, are actually only loyal to Rome, a foreign power, and not to the nation they were born and raised in.
Romans 13 very clearly makes the case how true Christians must be in submission to their own governments and not a self-appointed leader (being the pope) hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles away!
And to threaten eternal damnation to an already ignorant and illiterate generation of medieval Catholics was totally shameful and blasphemous!
King James, “The wisest fool in all Christendom”
The above quote has unfortunately gone down in history as the epitome of James’s lasting legacy, but Fraser, much to her credit, rightly takes to task its author, Anthony Weldon, a Trojan horse in James’s court, a man whose suggested hatred and infatuation towards King James has tragically lasted for centuries.
(A rare and pleasant stamp of James)
Weldon was a former courtier and politician who fell foul of the king. Much of what was written about James (such as his homosexual escapades, boozing on Sundays, finding his daughter Elizabeth’s wedding boring, and much more) can probably be traced back to him, although this is disputed by some.
King James’s later life and dying days
Towards the end of his life James “suffered from attacks of colic, vomiting and diarrhoea, which were followed by moods of depression, as well as weakness and spasm of the limbs, and a fast and irregular pulse.”
Buckingham, considered by many to be “James’s unofficial equal,” was desperately trying to aid and help the ailing king. A malaria-like fever began James’s eventual demise. Stewart suggests too many ‘quacks’ tried to save him, which most alarmingly, Buckingham himself deliberately poisoning him.
James probably suffered from porphyria, as did Cromwell.
Lancelot Andrews, one of the King James translators and friend of James, was also very ill at the same time.
James took communion and then said: “There is no other belief, no other hope … As it is practised in the English Church [Anglican Church] I ever approve it; but in the dark way of the Church of Rome, I do defy it.”
Defiant and anti-Rome till the end, James never recanted and one can hope he put his total and unequivocal trust in the Saviour’s precious shed blood for his eternal salvation.
Just before noon on 27 March 1625, Solomon of Scotland slept. Charles was twenty-four and naturally succeeded him. James had reigned 22 years.
Stewart suggests Charles’s bloody death at the hands of Cromwell and Parliament was partially down to James’s rule and reign.
Charles, also very close to Buckingham, was initially kept on, but was later blamed for multiple deaths along with James over many years, and eventually was murdered himself, being stabbed to death by a discharged officer named John Felton.
A great deal of material has been written speculating whether or not James was a homosexual, something which is practically impossible to verify. Even Winston Churchill wrote about James being a homosexual, although he too was quoting ‘questionable’ sources.
The truth of the matter is that most people (especially historians) see the worst in people, and instead of giving someone like King James the benefit of the doubt, they instead almost all universally write him off as a radical homosexual, or bi-sexual deviant, a term in fact not found in Scripture. Whatever his sexuality was, he was flesh and blood, like all of us, with an old and new nature. Carnality is certainly something Scripture speaks much about, so therefore perhaps James was more on the carnal side of things and not the awful unsaved reprobate many have enjoyed suggesting he was.
His wife has also had to undergo much speculation and unfair gossiping, ranging from her being unfaithful to her husband, to planning his death.
As for whether or not James was a Freemason, this is much easier to examine, for masonry didn’t officially begin until 1717, some 92 years after James’s death.
James appears to have done favours to his inner circles, varying from pressuring his senior clerics to issue suspect divorces to even pardoning those accused of murder, much like his mother had done all those years before. To call James a complex character is no exaggeration.
One bishop who refused to be ‘leaned’ on by James was promptly jailed.
King James was a moderate Calvinist who was seen by Puritans as the leader of a counterfeit church (the Anglican church was considered more Catholic than Protestant). They also wanted wedding rings banished from Anglican weddings, due to them being papal and unscriptural. In brief, he hated the Puritans and they hated him.
James was also very much in favour of one kneeling when receiving communion, clearly, a custom retained by Catholicism.
To appease Catholic Spain and secure King Philip’s daughter’s hand in marriage to Prince Charles, James had Sir Walter Raleigh executed for pirating in Spanish waters and other trumped-up charges. Young Prince Henry tried and failed to seek clemency for Raleigh. Unfortunately for Raleigh’s fate, he had also publicly opposed James’s right to the throne, something the king never forgot or forgave him for.
(Raleigh had briefly been released from his cell before his subsequent re-release, in which his mission failed miserably, even resulting in the deaths of several of his men).
Stewart suggests the Spanish had successfully taken James in, via their flamboyant ambassador in London. Stewart further suggests James was a ‘pacifist’ at heart, something Madrid would have delighted in.
(King Philip II had been prepared to allow his sister to be Charles’s mistress, should a deal fail to be reached between London and Madrid. There was even pressure from Spain via Rome, naturally for not only greater concessions for Catholics in England, but also for potential Protestant conversions ranging from Charles to other senior English royalties. This was the final straw and certainly the straw that broke the camel’s back. All negotiations were cancelled and Charles ended up marrying Henrietta, a Catholic princess from France, at Canterbury Cathedral).
Like Cromwell and other leaders, he continually fell out with Parliament and suspended the Commons more than once. His main need from them was money to pay for his kingdom and estate. They in return wanted less interference from him and the Crown.
When it comes to summing up James’s life, it really boils down to one book: the Bible, the King James Bible. For few would have cared about James if it were not for this incredible book, and few historians, if any, would have even given him the time of day.
We at this ministry thank God for James, for without him, there wouldn’t be the King James Bible, and who would want to live in a world with no King James Bible! In fact, who could survive in a world without the King James Bible!
Antonia Fraser, King James VI of Scotland and King James I of England
Alan Stewart, The Cradle King
Antonia Fraser, Mary Queen of Scots
Mary Queen of Scots, DVD
Remember, Remember (The Fifth of November), Judy Parkinson
Peter Ruckman, The History of the New Testament Church, Vol. I
31st December 2018
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