James was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots and her second husband, Lord Darnley. He was born in 1566. The following year, his mother abdicated and he became King James VI of Scotland. In 1603, his mother's cousin Queen Elizabeth I of England died and James inherited her throne, uniting England and Scotland under one crown for the first time. In English history he is called King James I. He died in 1625 and was succeeded by his son Charles I.
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The Cradle King: The Life of James VI and I by Alan Stewart. Biography that focuses on key relationships with his mother, favorites, wife, and others.
King James by Pauline Croft. A biography of King James VI and I, and an authoritative analysis of his remarkable, though flawed, achievements.
James I: The Masque of Monarchy by James Travers. Examines the reign of James I through original papers and letters held at Britain's National Archives.
King James VI of Scotland and I of England by Antonia Fraser. Biography published in 1975.
James I by Christopher Durston. Examines the personality of the king who was called "the wisest fool in Christendom."
Accession in England
After Elizabeth: The Rise of James of Scotland and the Struggle for the Throne of England by Leanda de Lisle. Focuses on the critical year Elizabeth I's reign ended, and the scheming of courtiers and clergy to find her successor.
The Accession of James I: Historical and Cultural Consequences edited by Glenn Burgess, Rowland Wymer, and Jason Lawrence. Twelve essays analyzing the consequences of the accession of James I in 1603 for British history, politics, literature and culture.
The King & Government
The Making of the Jacobean Regime: James VI and I and the Government of England, 1603-1605 by Diana Newton. Shows how circumstances and events immediately after James' accession were crucial to shaping his approach to ruling England.
James VI and I: Ideas, Authority, and Government edited by Ralph Houlbrooke. Essays exploring the union of England and Scotland, Scotland's government, and James' involvement in culture, raising questions about the king's judgement and skill as a monarch.
King James VI/I and His English Parliaments by Conrad Russell. Covers in detail the four sessions of the 1604-1610 Parliament and the Addled Parliament of 1614, with a final chapter looking towards the parliaments of the 1620s.
King James VI and I and the Reunion of Christendom by W.B. Patterson focuses on the king's peace-making and diplomacy in Europe.
Kingship and Crown Finance Under James VI and I, 1603-1625 by John Cramsie. This book rejects the stereotypical image of James VI and I as mindlessly extravagant.
The Reign of James VI edited by Julian Goodare and Michael Lynch. Analyzes the royal court, noble factionalism, relations with England, James VI's paymaster, and tension between church and state.
King James VI and I: Selected Writings edited by Neil Rhodes, Jennifer Richards, and Joseph Marshall. Provides a broad selection of King James's writings on secular and religious topics.
Political Writings: King James VI and I edited by Johann P. Somerville. James' political philosophy was a moderated absolutism, with an emphasis on the monarch's duty to rule according to law and the public good.
The Demonology of King James I: Includes the Original Text of Daemonologie and News From Scotland by Donald Tyson. Written by King James I and published in 1597, Demonology is notoriously difficult to understand. Donald Tyson has modernized and annotated the book, chronicling the king's obsession with demons and the first recorded witch trials. Includes the original text in its entirety.
Royal Subjects edited by Daniel Fischlin and Mark Fortier. James I wrote everything from political treatises to love poems. In this book of essays, 16 scholars discuss the king's writings.
King James and Letters of Homoerotic Desire by David Moore Bergeron examines letters King James I wrote to three male favorites.
Writing the Monarch in Jacobean England by Jane Rickard. How Jonson, Donne and Shakespeare and others commented upon and reworked the writings of King James VI and I.
A King Translated by Astrid Stilma. The writings of King James VI and I and their interpretation in the Low Countries, 1593-1603.
Reading Monarchs' Writing edited by Peter C. Herman. Criticism of the poetry of Henry VIII, Mary Stuart, Elizabeth I, and James VI/I.
Anna of Denmark, Queen of England: A Cultural Biography by Leeds Barroll is about King James's wife.
Women and Culture at the Courts of the Stuart Queens edited by Clare McManus. Literature, theater, patronage, and commissioning in the courts of Anna of Denmark (1603-19) and Henrietta Maria (1625-42).
Lost Prince: Henry, Prince of Wales by Catharine MacLeod, Malcolm Smuts, and Timothy Wilks. In November 1612, King James I's son Henry died of typhoid fever shortly before his 19th birthday. This book examines his upbringing, court, collecting, death, and legacy.
Prince Henry Reviv'd: Image and Exemplarity in Early Modern England edited by Timothy Wilks. Essays re-examine the extraordinary artistic and cultural response to King James I's son Prince Henry, who died young.
Henry, Prince of Wales and England's Lost Renaissance by Roy Strong. A biography of James I's eldest son, who died at the age of 18.
Buckingham by Roger Lockyer. The life and political career of George Villiers, first Duke of Buckingham, 1592-1628, who was a favorite of King James.
The Murder of King James I by Alastair Bellany & Thomas Cogswell. A year after the death of James I, a sensational pamphlet accused the Duke of Buckingham of murdering the king. The allegation would haunt English politics for nearly 40 years.
The Politics of Court Scandal in Early Modern England by Alastair Bellany. About the Overbury Affair.
The World of the Favourite edited by J.H. Elliott and L. W. B. Brockliss. Royal favorites in 16th and 17th century Europe.
Francis Bacon: The Temper of a Man by Catherine Drinker Bowen. Biography of philosopher Francis Bacon, who was the king's lord chancellor.
Inigo Jones by John Newenham Summerson and Howard Colvin. About the famous architect, who helped produce court masques and built the Queen's House at Greenwich.
Writing and Reading Royal Entertainments: From George Gascoigne to Ben Jonson by Gabriel Heaton. Looks at Elizabethan and Jacobean royal entertainments, including country house entertainments, tiltyard speeches, and court masques.
King James I and the Religious Culture of England by James Doelman. A study of King James's influence on religious life in England during his reign.
Majestie: The King Behind the King James Bible by David Teems. A shared biography of England's intellectual, vulgar, bombastic, majestic King James I and the Bible that goes by his name.
The People's Bible: The Remarkable History of the King James Version by Derek Wilson. The history of the Authorized Version of the King James Bible and its remarkable influence on the English speaking world.
In the Beginning by Alister McGrath. The story of the King James Bible and how it changed a nation, a language, and a culture.
Wide as the Waters by Benson Bobrick. The story of the English bible and the revolution it inspired.
Book of Books by Melvyn Bragg. The radical impact of the King James Bible, 1611-2011.
The Theological-Political Origins of the Modern State by Bernard Bourdin, translated by Susan Pickford. The controversy between James I and Cardinal Bellarmine following the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 over who ultimately held absolute sovereignty by divine right -- the king or the pope -- sent shock waves through Europe and had impact on the rise of the modern state.
Manifold Greatness: The Making of the King James Bible edited by Helen Moore and Julian Reid. An illustrated visual history, including images of rare manuscripts, artifacts, and archival material. Leading academics discuss the history of biblical translation, the political background of the project, and the reception and influence of the King James Bible.
The Bible: Authorized King James Version With Apocrypha. The translation of the Bible ordered by King James.
The Bewitching of Anne Gunter: A Horrible and True Story of Deception, Witchcraft, Murder and the King of England by J.A. Sharpe. About a witchcraft trial in which the king became involved.
Publishing, Politics, and Culture: The King's Printers in the Reign of James I and VI by Graham Rees and Maria Wakely. The King's Printing House monopolized the right to print the Bible and other works promoted by the king. The office of King's Printer, potentially very lucrative, created bitter rivalry among booksellers.
Faith and Treason: The Story of the Gunpowder Plot by Antonia Fraser. The term "guy," slang for any man, comes from Guy Fawkes, the ringleader of the bungled plot to blow up King James I and Parliament. Distinguished historian Fraser shows the harsh persecution of Roman Catholics under Jacobean rule. (Review © Amazon.com)
God's Secret Agents: Queen Elizabeth's Forbidden Priests and the Hatching of the Gunpower Plot by Alice Hogge. Jesuit priests tried to return England to the Catholic Church, but their mission was shattered by the actions of the Gunpowder Plotters. This book follows "God's secret agents" from their schooling on the Continent, through their perilous return journeys to England during the reign of Elizabeth I and their lonely lives in hiding, to, ultimately, the gallows.
Blood of Kings by J. D. Davies. Tells the story of the Gowrie Conspiracy, a plot to kill King James I that Shakespeare used as the basis for Macbeth.
Right Royal Friend by Nigel Tranter. Novel about the cupbearer of King James VI of Scotland (who was also King James I of England).
The Murder in the Tower: The Story of Frances, Countess of Essex by Jean Plaidy. Dashing Robert Carr is a favorite of King James I. But when the cunning Frances Howard comes to court, a dangerous liaison changes everything. First book in Plaidy's Stuart Saga, originally published in 1964.
The Life of Mary, Queen of Scots