William Sterling

James VI & I

The Life and Times of James VI & I

This one day course was run at the City Lit on Sunday 26th November 2017.

James was already king of Scotland when he succeeded Elizabeth I in 1603. In fact he had been a king virtually his whole life when he became the first monarch of Great Britain.

We covered James’s life starting with the troubled relationship between his parents, Mary Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley, his upbringing and the quarrels of his regents. His rule over Scotland was generally successful and his marriage to Anne of Denmark unusually affectionate. His succession to the English crown was achieved smoothly despite some opposition and his experience meant he felt comfortable to take on the rule of the larger and more prosperous country. His struggles to come to terms with Parliament laid the foundations for the Civil war in his son’s reign but otherwise he ruled well. His court was famous for music and entertainments and he encouraged visits from artists and musicians from abroad as well as patronising British creative talent including Shakespeare. He commissioned Inigo Jones to build the Queen’s House for his wife although she died before it was completed. He was obsessed with his campaigns against witchcraft and tobacco and wrote erudite works on these and other subjects. His foreign policy hinged around trying to keep the peace with both Catholic and Protestant powers and tried to arrange marriages with his children to cultivate good relationships, not always and easy task and his trials with his son led to his last illness and death.

These were the handouts

Family Tree






In addition here is a timeline of his life


And  a printable version of the slides shown

Parents and early life as printable slides

James’s family as printable slides

King of England printable slides

The following podcasts from Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time series might be of interest

The Covenanters

Baconian Science


The Divine Right of Kings

The Pilgrim Fathers