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James I , The King Who United Scotland and England (Hardback)

P&S History > British History > Tudors & Stuarts P&S History > By Century > 17th Century P&S History > Royal History World History > UK & Ireland > Scotland

By Keith Coleman
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 256
ISBN: 9781399093590
Published: 6th April 2023


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The life of King James VI who united England and Scotland under one crown and became James I in 1603 is marked by contradictions. Generally praised as a good king of Scotland and a poor English one, James was a deep theological thinker, but he also inspired a superstitious frenzy which resulted in the North Berwick witch hunt and trials in the 1590s. Scholar and pedant, he was in his own view God’s appointed ruler, yet also a foul mouthed sloven and forever tarnished with the title of the Wisest Fool in Christendom.

The most glaring contrast in his personal life was between his image as a married family man and as a ruler who lavished indiscreet affection on a series of men whom he invested with considerable power. This book approaches James through the lens of his relationships with his major favourites. First was Anglo-French lord Esme D’Aubigny, then Scottish squire Robert Carr (later Earl of Somerset), and finally the consummate nobleman George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham. ‘A king will have need to use secrecy in many things,’ the king wrote in one of his books. Although his private life was sometimes astonishingly visible, there are still many mysteries about James I as a man rather than a ruler.

This work tracks the king’s life from a barren childhood through a succession of plots, intrigues and conspiracies in Scotland which largely forged, or deformed, his character. Beyond his complex and disputed connection with these men the book looks at his relationship with his wife, sponsorship of the arts, and contains a reappraisal of the first and most neglected historical mystery of his first reign, the Gowrie Conspiracy.

4 out of 5

For those with an interest in Scottish history and its relationship with England, this is an interesting very in-depth book, extremely well-researched and written.

Read the Full Review Here

Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I would recommend this book to everyone who is interested in past history of the British isles. To king is portrayed in a new light in his political and social life.

NetGalley, Lional Jones

Article: Remember remember: King defies Guy Fawkes but not the historians

The Sunday Post (Dundee)

Mr. Coleman's book has been extensively researched and is presented in an accesible manner. I have read many books on this period in history and this is an excellent addition to the canon. It is suitable for those who are already familiar with Stuart history or to those who are new to the period. It explains much about King James himself and would entice a reader to find out more about the historical events of the period. It is an excellent book which I highly recommend.

NetGalley, Anna Elliott

James VI of Scotland and I of England was the only child and heir to the ill-fated Mary, Queen of Scots. King of Scotland from the age of only thirteen months following his mother's forced abdication, his ambition to unite Scotland with England would come into fruition when he assumed the throne following the death of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603. It would not be all plain sailing as intrigue, religious strife and court politics would plague his reign, eventually leading to the fateful demise of his son and successor, Charles I.

Keith Coleman has not written a traditional biography on King James. While true, Coleman examines the important events relating to the king's reign such as the Gunpowder Plot, the Witch Hunts and the clashes between the Protestant and Catholic factions, there is a great emphasis on the king as a person - the James Stuart behind the throne.

Coleman presents a uniquely sympathetic and unbiased perspective to the Stuart King as the reader is introduced to the child who was brought up in a demanding schoolroom (while also being taught to hate his own mother), the man who had a vast love of poetry, his strong sense of humour that was often lost on his English companions and finally his intimate relationships with his favourites.

I greatly appreciated the author taking an unbiased stance on the latter example, even pointing out that sexuality as we know it did not exist in the 17th century. This made for a completely refreshing non-judgemental insight to a complex character.

A well written and deeply psychological examination of the famous Stuart King who lived during one of the most fascinating periods in history.

NetGalley, Kirsty Whyte

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Loved, loved, loved this book. It's refreshing to find someone with the almost uncanny talent to make history tales entertaining, comprehensible and addicting. I'd never read anything about James VI and I and I was completely captivated by his life story.

I liked that there was no prejudices when talking about the king's favourites, something that I've definitely have seen in other cases.
Loved the attention to detail and how I got an overview of every aspect of James' life.

I am eager to read more about the author and I'm forever grateful to have been given this ARC.

NetGalley, Sira Barbeito

I am a huge reader of royal histories and found this one very well written and researched.

NetGalley, Shelly Myers

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

An accomplished biography of one of England’s most complicated monarchs to really understand.

>From his very difficult childhood to his still controversial demise, the author manages with brio to paint a compelling and intimate portrait of King James especially through his social and emotional interactions.

A fascinating psychological portrait of a very complex man and a brilliant look at a pivotal reign in English history.

Highly recommended and to be enjoyed without any moderation whatsoever!

NetGalley, jean luc estrella

About Keith Coleman

Keith Coleman has a MA degree in Celto-Roman Studies from the University of Wales, Newport. His book Aedán of the Gaels: King of Scots (Pen & Sword Books, 2022) was his latest long-term study of the legends and history of the Scottish kings. He is also the author of The Afterlife of Kings James IV, Otherworld Legends of A Scottish King (Chronos Books, 2019) and maintain several blogs about the legends and history of Scotland and its kings. He is currently working on a book on latter day Jacobites to be published by Pen & Sword.

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