King James VI of Scotland,
King James I of England
Born on June 19, 1566, in Edinburgh Castle, James was the only son of Mary, Queen of Scots. On her forced abdication in 1567, he was proclaimed King of Scotland, a puppet in the hands of regents and politicians until 1581 when he assumed actual rule of Scotland. It was a country divided by religious conflict between Protestants and Roman Catholics, between those favoring an alliance with France and those supporting England. James was kidnapped in 1582 by Protestant nobles, but he escaped in 1583. In 1586 James formed an alliance with his cousin, Queen Elizabeth 1 of England. The next year, after the execution of his mother, he reduced the power of the Catholic nobles in Scotland. His marriage to Anne of Denmark in 1589 brought him the favor of Protestants.
After the Gowrie conspiracy of 1600, James repressed the Protestants as he had the Catholics, replacing the feudal power of the nobility with a strong central government, and enforcing the superiority of the state over the church. On Elizabeth's death in 1603, he became James I, the first Stuart King of England.
In 1604 he ended the war with Spain, but clashed with Parliament because of his belief in the divine right of Kings. At the Hampton Court Conference in 1604 he authorized the King James translation of the Bible.
However, his unduly severe treatment of Catholics led to the abortive Gunpowder Plot of 1605. James tried unsuccessfully to create religious peace in Europe by marrying his daughter Elizabeth to Frederick V of Germany, and by attempting a marriage between his son Charles and the Catholic Infanta of Spain. James died on March 27, 1625, and was succeeded by his son, Charles I.