|Sir Theodore Mayerne|
James was ill and was attended by his physician Theodore Mayerne. He suffered from depression, attacks of the colic, vomiting and diarrhoea. In 1617, despite his illness, James travelled up to Scotland; the trip was a costly one. Not only tapestries and silver went north, but also melons and cherries as the king had a passion for soft fruit.While in Scotland, James pushed to further remove all traces of Puritanism in the Scottish church. In 1618 the Five Articles of Perth imposed Anglican rituals on the Scots although they were not ratified until 1621. James increased minister’s stipends before threatening to remove the increase from those who objected to the articles.
James, against his religious beliefs, was as a policy matter forced to deal with the High Church bishops of the Church of England. He did however refuse to promote Laud[i], a confidant of Villiers, who was to cause such problems for his son.
|1709 edition of the Book of Sports|
In England, where Puritanism was becoming rife, James had to issue the Book of Sports to protect dancing, playing and ‘church-ales’ which were permissible once the church service was over.Anne died on 2nd March 1619; the couple had been married for thirty years, although they had not shared a household for ten years. James did not attend her deathbed or funeral having a morbid dislike of such events. But he was upset by her death and wrote poetry;
‘She’s changed, not dead, for sure no good prince dies
But, as the sun sets, only for to rise.’[ii]Charles was with his mother when she died, he was close to his mother possibly particularly so after the loss of his sister Elizabeth to a life abroad.
In September 1620 the Pilgrim Fathers set off in the Mayflower for the new world in a search for a land free from the persecutions suffered in England. They were not the first English travellers to make landfall in the Americas. A colony in Virginia was given a royal patent in 1616.
|Sir William Alexander|
Sir William Alexander[iii] founded a short lived colony in Nova Scotia; James granted him a royal charter in 1621. Walter Ralegh was allowed out of the Tower for one last ill-fated expedition up the Orinoco where gold was alleged to be found. Alas, Ralegh clashed with the Spaniards whom James felt it politic to appease. And he was executed upon his return, much to the indignation of his fellow countrymen who felt that their king had become a puppet of Philip III.War in Europe
Few who saw the beginning of the war that now befell Europe can have imagined that it would last thirty years and one that was to have profound effects on James’ daughter and her husband. The largely Protestant states were lined up against the hegemony of the Hapsburgs.
The Protestants in Bohemia revolted against their Catholic overlord, the Holy Roman Emperor. The throne was offered to James’ son-in-law, Frederick who became king in August 1619. He and Elizabeth became known as the Winter King and Queen as they were chased out of Bohemia in November 1620 and out of the Palatinate following an invasion in February 1620 by Spain and Austria.
Initially James refused to become involved in the dispute saying;
‘His subjects were as dear to him as his children, and therefore he could not embark them on an unjust and needless quarrel.’[iv]
|Frederick the Winter King|
James was caught between the peril that his daughter and son-in-law now found themselves in and his hopes for a Spanish marriage for Charles. Supporting Frederick was popular amongst James’ subjects and an appeal for money raised some funds, but to pay for military intervention sufficient funds could only be obtained from parliament.Parliament was in an intractable mood and spent much time criticising James’ policies and in particular his foreign policy, which James viewed as a royal prerogative. There was much popular discontent with the granting of patents and monopolies of which large parts were controlled by Villiers and his family[v].
Bacon warned Villiers of the dangers but was blithely ignored. In the event it was Bacon who was used as a scapegoat and was fined £40,000[vi] and imprisoned[vii]. The brangle between James and parliament rolled on. James wished to trust to the new king in Spain, Philip IV, to return Frederick to his Electorship. Parliament was dissolved in January 1621 with no war subsidies having been granted.
In Buckingham’s Talons
James was still caught in Villiers’s toils; telling his Privy Council in 1617
‘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.’[viii]The more honours and riches Villiers was given, the more unpopular he became. High positions or remuneration were awarded at his discretion. He purchased the post of Lord High Admiral from Nottingham for a lump sum of £3,000[ix] and a pension of £1,000 per annum for life[x]. Following the queen’s death the majority of her collection of jewels and plate, worth nearly £500,000[xi] was lavished on the favourite.
The Spanish Bride?
The friendship between the heir to the throne and the favourite continued apace; Charles went off with Villiers in 1623 on an unofficial trip to Spain to catch a glimpse of his future wife at the suggestion of Diego Gondamar, the Spanish Ambassador.At a suggestion that Villiers and Charles extend their stay James, who wore a portrait of ‘Steenie’ under his waistcoat, became frantic.
‘Alas, I now repent me sore that I ever suffered you to go away, I care for match nor nothing, so I may once have you in my arms again; God grant it!’[xii]The antics of the heir to the English throne and the king’s favourite horrified the staid Spanish court and the marriage to the Infanta Maria Anna[xiii] with her very desirable dowry of £600,000[xiv] was off, putting paid to James’ hopes for a closer union between the two countries
Charles and Villiers returned to England via France where the prince caught a glimpse of the Princess Henrietta Maria the sister of the king of France Louis XIII[xv]. Following their treatment there the two young men were now determined on war with Spain.In February 1624 Parliament met again; James and Charles and Villiers had very divergent expectations; James wanted peace, Charles and Villiers wanted war. And Villiers wanted to bring about the fall of Cranfield, the highly efficient Lord Treasurer, who had supported the Spanish marriage, much to James’ consternation;
‘My God, Steenie you are a fool and will shortly repent this folly.’[xvi]But James was old for his age, sick and tired and the folly was enacted and the country’s foreign policy completely reversed. Instead of Spain, the country now allied with France, whose anti-Austrian policy, under the auspices of Cardinal Richelieu, had brought her into the war on the Protestant side.
Parliament voted for a naval war with Spain and voted £300,000[xvii] towards the costs. Villiers, as Lord High Admiral, led a disastrous expedition to Cadiz which further sullied his reputation at home. While James’ diplomatic moves to save the Palatinate were in vain.
Death Comes as the End
|James in 1621|
On 5th March 1625 James fell ill while hunting at Theobalds with what was described as;James did not recover as expected and suffered a stroke; Villiers and his mother tried country remedies to save the king who was by now unable to speak and suffering from dysentery into the bargain. He died on 27th March; the Earl of Kellie commented;
"As he lived in peace, so did he die in peace, and I pray God our king [Charles I] may follow him."[xx]It was James’ misfortune that he was succeeded by a son whose abilities were mediocre and who was under his wife’s thumb; so much so that he was prepared to return the country to Catholicism. And his grandsons Charles and James were to attempt to do the same. It was a great-grandson, William of Orange[xxi], who was to save England from the Popish threat for all time.
BibliographyCharles The First – John Bowle, Weidenfeld & Nicholson 1975
The Early Stuarts – Godfrey Davies, Oxford University Press 1987King James – Antonia Fraser, BCA 1974
Charles I – Christopher Hibbert, Penguin 1968www.wikipedia.en
[i] A man with homosexual leanings, whose erotic dreams about Buckingham were confided to his diary
[ii] King James - Fraser
[v] Controlling the licensing of inns and ale-houses and the manufacturing of gold and silver thread amongst others
[vii] Released by James after a few days
[xii] King James - Fraser
[xiii] The younger sister of Anne of Austria, queen of France
[xv] Whom he eventually married; the future queen was a disastrous influence on Charles
[xvi] Charles I - Hibbert
[xviii] A three day fever
[xix] King James - Fraser