King James I (1566 – 1625)
In 1603, King James VI of Scotland became the first King of Great Britain, uniting England, Scotland, and Ireland under one crown. He was the first monarch from the Stuart family to rule over England.
Born in Edinburgh Castle in 1566, he was crowned King of Scots in 1567. James was thirteen months old at the time.
In an era when there were disagreements about beliefs within the Catholic Church around the world, King James proved himself to be skilful in dealing effectively with Catholics and Protestants, to maintain control in Scotland.
A year after his coronation as King of Great Britain (in 1604), King James asked for a new version of The Bible to be translated to English from Aramaic, Hebrew, Latin and Greek. He wanted to bring an end to the disputes about Christian doctrine that emerged because of the establishment of the Church of England during the reign of King Henry VIII.
The King James Version of The Bible made it possible for millions of people to understand the central message of Christian beliefs. It also helped to spread the understanding of the English language all over the world.
King James ruled over Scotland for 58 years and over the United Kingdom for 22 years.
One of his major achievements was his smooth management of joining the Kingdoms of Scotland and England together, as these two countries used to see themselves as ‘auld enemies’.
Both England and Scotland were prosperous during King James’s reign, but he found the English Parliament trickier to deal with than the Scottish Assembly.
King James and Greenwich Park
When King James arrived in London as the King of Great Britain, Greenwich Palace was one of his homes. Greenwich Park was already used by the Royal Family for hunting, picnics, and fairs. In 1619, James decided to have a brick wall built around the park. The wall was 12 feet high, and it enclosed an area of about 183 acres.
The wall was built for several reasons. One was to protect the park from poachers and other trespassers; another was to create a more formal and elegant setting for the Royal Palace and other buildings in the park. A third reason was to symbolise the power and authority of the King.
King James was married to Queen Anne of Denmark, but their marriage was said to have been less than happy. Even so, the King commissioned Inigo Jones – a famous architect, to design a new house for his Queen in 1616. The Queen’s House was built in the Palladian style, which was a new and fashionable style of architecture at the time.
The Queen’s House is now one of the most famous buildings in Greenwich Park. It is a beautiful and elegant building that is a testament to the taste and sophistication of King James I.
Recommended reading: The British – The British Poem by Benjamin Zephaniah (poemhunter.com)