Journal Article

The English Accession of James VI: ‘National’ Identity, Gender and the Personal Monarchy of England

Judith M. Richards

in The English Historical Review

Volume 117, issue 472, pages 513-535
Published in print June 2002 | ISSN: 0013-8266
Published online June 2002 | e-ISSN: 1477-4534 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ehr/117.472.513
The English Accession of James VI: ‘National’ Identity, Gender and the Personal Monarchy of England

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In this paper, the contexts in which the Scottish king James VI succeeded to the English throne are reconsidered. In 1603 James was an experienced and successful Scottish ruler, with a strong theoretical view of the function and powers of monarchy. He expected that his new subjects shared his commitment to masculine, ‘trewe’ monarchy, and viewed the English language of mixed monarchy as a temporary accommodation for a female monarch. His understanding of the importance of the gender of the monarch, it is argued, was a major explanation for many of the difficulties which James encountered in his early years in England, at least a important as the more conventional argument that his problems were those of Scottish outsider.

The ultimate irony of his accession is that in his English reign, he sought to establish the obvious advantages of masculine rule. His rule, however, also lead to the construction an image of Elizabeth as the model (incidentally female) ruler, and the exemplar of all royal virtues, so many of which her explicitly misogynist successor was seen to lack.

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Subjects: British History ; World History ; European History ; International History

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