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James I’s Tumultuous First Year as King (ePub)

Plague, Conspiracy and Catholicism

P&S History > British History P&S History > By Century > 17th Century P&S History > Royal History P&S History > Social History

By Ben Norman
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
File Size: 14.2 MB (.epub)
Pages: 224
ISBN: 9781399057189
Published: 28th November 2023


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This is the story of a crucial year in the history of England, brimming with great political and social upheaval: the year 1603.

1603 was a time of last goodbyes and new beginnings; of waning customs and fresh political and constitutional visions. It saw an aged queen die and a king from the far north rise as sovereign over a foreign nation. It also witnessed an unprecedented outbreak of bubonic plague, which began in London and spread indiscriminately through the provinces, killing up to 30,000 people.

Catholicism was a second major disease doing the rounds in 1603. Its presence would lead to an attempt to dethrone King James I in the very first months of his reign, culminating in a trial staged at Winchester Castle in November. One of the candidates the conspirators had in mind to replace him was the would-be queen Lady Arbella Stuart. Indeed, Arbella would bring her own dramas to an already crowded and politically and socially charged year.

The present work considers the entirety of the year 1603 in England, from January to December. In this same spirit, it also pays attention to the lives of ordinary men and women, as well as the lives of the great and powerful of the land. How aware were so-called common folk of the significant national episodes playing out around them? Did they even care?

The answers are both fascinating and unexpected, and raise important questions about the interrelationship between the ordinary and the extraordinary in seventeenth-century England.

‘Make no mistake that James had faced some significant competition for the tantalising prize of English kingship in the run-up to the succession.’

This was an interesting introduction for me into the Stuart period. I don’t think I have ready any books on the topic or if I have it’s maybe been a couple.

After reading this I am intrigued to read more on James and his family, especially Charles I.

‘The common crowds were unable to contain their giddy excitement at the king’s spectacular entrance, bellowing such niceties as ‘Welcome!’ and ‘God save King James!’

Another book adding more books to my TBR!

The ideal read for any history lover and those interested in particular in the Stuart history.

NetGalley, Georgi Lvs Books

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is a book about events that happened during the first year of the reign of James I.
It's a fascinating look at what was going on in the country during that time, and gives readers an insight into the politics and religion.
The similarities between Elizabeth dying and the turmoil that followed the new King James, are highly relevant in this day and age.
I found it intriguing, thoroughly researched and a great read

NetGalley, Emma Potter

A very informative book. I am not familiar with James 1 so finding a book about him really piqued my interests. The format of the book seems like it was telling a story, bringing you back to where it all began. It was nice learning more about his background and how he became king of England after Elizabeth I's death.

NetGalley, Yves von Hagen

A year in the life and reign of a king! In particular James I of England (James VI of Scotland), his first year after his coming to the throne after the death of the long-serving Elizabeth I. A year not only of upheaval but one in which the bubonic plague would wipe out tens of thousands of his citizens of all levels of society all happening while plots to put a Catholic back on the throne were hatched but defeated. This book tells of a time I suspect not that often written about by historians.

NetGalley, Stephen Dale

With the death of Queen Elizabeth I, 1603 brings monumental political and social changes in Great Britain. As James VI & I takes the English throne, fresh hopes and threats emerge. The plague spreads, Catholic uprisings threaten, and a plot emerges to depose King James I and raise Lady Arbella Stuart to the monarchy. Delving into the pivotal year through insights from court and countryside, this history uncovers the intricate link between rulers and the ruled in 17th century England.

This is a fascinating and informative narrative that follows social change in 1603 England.

NetGalley, Andrea Romance

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I loved the idea behind this book and found the experiences and events absolutely fascinating - it was somewhat like following the plot of a soap opera. Who needs fiction? Everyone in the book had their own drama from Lady Arbella Stuart to Robert Carey. I particularly enjoyed the elements of social history woven through the political accounts and the lives of the better known early Stuarts. It was a through provoking journey through the year.

NetGalley, Julia Hickey

About Ben Norman

Ben Norman grew up in South Cambridgeshire, in a 700-year-old farmhouse that was supposedly visited by Oliver Cromwell in the seventeenth century. He has always found the past a fascinating place, with a particular interest in the strange but familiar world of early modern England, and holds a master’s degree in Early Modern History from the University of York, for which he achieved a distinction. When not immersed in history Ben enjoys writing fiction, spending days doing absolutely nothing, and indulging in his favourite science fiction film franchise. He currently lives and works in York.

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