Partner Esmé Stewart, Robert Carr, George Villiers
Westminster Abbey, 20 Deans Yd, Westminster, London SW1P 3PA, Regno Unito
James VI and I (James Charles Stuart; 19 June 1566 – 27 March 1625) was King of Scotland as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the Scottish and English crowns on 24 March 1603 until his death in 1625. The kingdoms of Scotland and England were individual sovereign states, with their own parliaments, judiciaries, and laws, though both were ruled by James in personal union. James I once boasted that his wife, Anne of Denmark, was the only woman he had ever bedded with. Among the roll call of figures that activist Peter Tatchell announced under the heading of ‘famous homosexuals’ there are ‘gay by orientation’: Edward II, Richard the Lionheart, and James I, for instance, find themselves appropriated as key personalities in a proposed exhibition on The Queer Kings of England and Scotland.
James I of England, in his 1617 Privy Council, felt such a need to defend himself against charges of sodomy toward his favorite, George Villiers, the earl of Buckingham: "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 son John, I have my George."
The king’s hunting lodge at Royston was staffed entirely by men. He liked them smooth-faced and young. He cuddled them and ‘pressed’ them; sometimes he literally drooled over them. He was in many respects uncouth, and was observed to fiddle with his codpiece. One of the first of James’s favourites was Robert Carr, created Earl of Somerset, to whom the king once complained of ‘your long creeping back and withdrawing yourself from lying in my chamber, notwithstanding my many hundred times earnestly soliciting you to the contrary’. His last and greatest favourite was George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, who signed himself to the king as ‘Your Majesty’s humble slave and dog’. A contemporary observer and memoirist, Francis Osborne, noted that the king’s affection for his favourites ‘was as amorously conveyed as if he had mistaken their sex, and thought them ladies; which I have seen Somerset and Buckingham labour to resemble, in the effeminateness of their dressings’.
Huntingtower Castle, Scotland
James was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots, and a great-great-grandson of Henry VII, King of England and Lord of Ireland, positioning him to eventually accede to all three thrones. His father was Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, the second husband of Mary. He was created Duke of Albany shortly before his marriage. Less than a year after the birth of his and Mary's only child, King James VI of Scotland and I of England, Darnley was murdered at Kirk o' Field in 1567. On the mysterious night of the explosion of Kirk o'Field, when Darnley was murdered, he was recovering from illness and had gone off to bed with his page - a usual enough circumstance with XVI-century persons, who always shared beds. But, when the two bodies were picked up outside the house, they had not been damaged by the explosion: the youths had been strangled before. Darnley was not yet 22. James succeeded to the Scottish throne at the age of thirteen months, after his mother was compelled to abdicate in his favour. Four different regents governed during his minority, which ended officially in 1578, though he did not gain full control of his government until 1583. In 1603, he succeeded the last Tudor monarch of England and Ireland, Elizabeth I, who died without issue. He continued to reign in all three kingdoms for 22 years, a period known after him as the Jacobean era, until his death in 1625 at the age of 58. After the Union of the Crowns, he based himself in England (the largest of the three realms) from 1603, only returning to Scotland once in 1617, and styled himself "King of Great Britain and Ireland". He was a major advocate of a single parliament for England and Scotland. In his reign, the Plantation of Ulster and British colonisation of the Americas began.
At 57 years and 246 days, James's reign in Scotland was longer than those of any of his predecessors. He achieved most of his aims in Scotland but faced great difficulties in England, including the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 and repeated conflicts with the English Parliament. Under James, the "Golden Age" of Elizabethan literature and drama continued, with writers such as William Shakespeare, John Donne, Ben Jonson, and Sir Francis Bacon contributing to a flourishing literary culture. James himself was a talented scholar, the author of works such as Daemonologie (1597), The True Law of Free Monarchies (1598), and Basilikon Doron (1599). He sponsored the translation of the Bible into English that would later be named after him: the Authorised King James Version. Sir Anthony Weldon claimed that James had been termed "the wisest fool in Christendom", an epithet associated with his character ever since. Since the latter half of the 20th century, historians have tended to revise James's reputation and treat him as a serious and thoughtful monarch. He was strongly committed to a peace policy, and tried to avoid involvement in religious wars, especially the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) that devastated much of Central Europe. He tried but failed to prevent the rise of hawkish elements in the English Parliament who wanted war with Spain.
Some of James's biographers conclude that Esmé Stewart (later Duke of Lennox), James Hay (later 1st Earl of Carlisle), Robert Carr (later Earl of Somerset), and George Villiers (later Duke of Buckingham) were his lovers. Sir John Oglander observed that he "never yet saw any fond husband make so much or so great dalliance over his beautiful spouse as I have seen King James over his favourites, especially the Duke of Buckingham" whom the King would, recalled Sir Edward Peyton, "tumble and kiss as a mistress." Restoration of Apethorpe Palace undertaken in 2004–08 revealed a previously unknown passage linking the bedchambers of James and Villiers.
After about the age of fifty, James suffered increasingly from arthritis, gout and kidney stones. He also lost his teeth and drank heavily. The King was often seriously ill during the last year of his life, leaving him an increasingly peripheral figure, rarely able to visit London, while Buckingham consolidated his control of Charles to ensure his own future. One theory is that James may have suffered from porphyria, a disease of which his descendant George III of the United Kingdom exhibited some symptoms. James described his urine to physician Théodore de Mayerne as being the "dark red colour of Alicante wine". The theory is dismissed by some experts, particularly in James's case, because he had kidney stones which can lead to blood in the urine, colouring it red.
In early 1625, James was plagued by severe attacks of arthritis, gout, and fainting fits, and fell seriously ill in March with tertian ague and then suffered a stroke. He died at Theobalds House on 27 March during a violent attack of dysentery, with Buckingham at his bedside. James's funeral on 7 May was a magnificent but disorderly affair. Bishop John Williams of Lincoln preached the sermon, observing, "King Solomon died in Peace, when he had lived about sixty years ... and so you know did King James". The sermon was later printed as Great Britain's Salomon.
James was buried in Westminster Abbey. The position of the tomb was lost for many years until his lead coffin was found in the Henry VII vault in the 19th century, during an excavation.
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