The Stuarts: James I (1394-1437) biography - Scotland Magazine
Great Scots

The Stuarts: James I (1394-1437) biography

We survey the reigns of the Stuart kings and queens that saw Scotland rise above its clan divisions and move towards a future as rulers of the United Kingdom

Credit: Antonia Reeve/National Galleries of Scotland

Though James had a rocky start, he certainly pulled his weight later in his reign (1406-1437). From the age of 12 James was prisoner and then ‘guest’ of Kings Henry IV and V in England until 1424. His extended exile was likely due to his uncle, the Duke of Albany’s, deliberate delay to pay his ransom – Albany was Regent in Scotland during most of James I’s absence. While the king waited, he became fluent in Latin and French and wrote his own poetry such as The Kingis Quair, a poem supposedly narrating the love story of James’s marriage to Joan Beaufort that is often attributed to the king.

However, between 1424-37 King James I was able to put into practice some of the other talents he had learned in England. A strong leader, James restored order to the Scottish government by taking power from the nobility (sometimes beheading them to be on the safe side). Popular during his reign, having improved the justice system for the common people, unfortunately it was not enough to avoid brutal assassination in his own quarters by a group of conspirators.

Credit: Michael A Hill



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