Finding Union and Peace within a Dual Monarchy

With his accession to the throne of England in 1603, James VI and I reigned over the three kingdoms of Scotland, England, and Ireland. Although he brought much of his experience ruling Scotland to England, he still faced many new challenges. One of these challenges was the way in which James would ensure peace and some degree of unity between two kingdoms that were accustomed to being ruled as separate entities with distinct peoples and needs. As James stated in his accession speech, “…peace be a great blessing, yet is it far inferior to peace within… What God has conjoined then, let no man separate.”[1] Though James VI and I, as king of England, Ireland, and Scotland began by ruling his composite monarchy as separate entities, nevertheless, James’ ultimate goal was unity between and within the different realms. Continue reading

Broadening the Scope: The Expansion of Imperial Aims from the Tudors to the Stuarts

The accession of James VI of Scotland as King James I of England after Elizabeth’s death marked a significant shift in the three kingdoms. Elizabeth’s choice of remaining without an heir meant with her death came the end of the Tudor dynasty and the foreign policy they employed for decades. With the Tudors, their intention of consolidating power over Scotland and Ireland meant their foreign endeavors ended at the isles themselves. With James’ acquisition of the English throne, he became, in theory, a figure head for unity and a symbol for hope that England, Scotland, and Ireland could unite and transform into “Britain.” With this transformation, “Britain” could turn its sights outward and adopt a new, more aggressive, foreign policy. James would later prove, however, that his plans differed. Continue reading

Celtic Lore and James VI and I’s Attempts at Union

In Westminster Abbey, underneath the coronation chair, there lays a plain stone. The stone, commonly known as the Coronation Stone, or the Stone of Scone, serves primarily as the place where English monarchs are crowned. However, before being used by the English crown, the stone was used by the Scottish kings according to legend. During Edward I’s war with Scotland in 1296, the stone was taken as a spoil of war and placed in Westminster Abbey. In the 1328 Treaty of Northampton, one of the terms was the restitution of the stone to Scotland. Despite the agreement of these terms, the stone remained in Westminster.[1] Thus it was notable when James VI of Scotland was crowned king of England in 1603 on this Scottish relic. Continue reading