James (1603 - 1625)

Revision cards for entire of James I reign


Union 1603 - For

  • Wanted a Union of the Crowns, Parliaments, Law and Religion.
  • Wanted a common flug currency and free trade.
  • Fulfilling historical destiny by returning to the ancient Kingdom of Britain.
  • Strengthen the economy.
  • Carrying the will of God.
  • He wanted the title of King of Britain.
  • Union of legal systems.
  • Common religious system.
  • James ruled Scotland through the Privy Council in Edinburgh so this would be made easier.
  • Lack of control in border regions would be solved.

Reasons James wanted Union

  • Ease and simplicity - easier to control the church
  • Foreign policy - armies
  • Move Scottish advisers
  • More subsidies
  • Synthesis - best from both
1 of 29

Union 1603 - Against

  • Neither England or Scotland were ready for such a noble vision.
  • Neither country wanted to achieve union.
  • The idea exceeded Political possibilities.
  • Impossibly high cost of full union to both England and Scotland.
  • Unnecessary change of name.
  • Confusion over summoning of Parliament, Law, Customs, Offices of State etc.
  • Problems caused in foreign policy. 
  • Loss of name would not only be politically and legally difficult but also unpopular.
  • Would allow the Scots to dominate Offices of State and government.
  • The structure of the Scottish Kirk was Presbytarian while that of the English Church was Episcopal. 
2 of 29

Achieving Union

Things to suggest Union was achieved

  • Hostile Laws achieved.
  • Only real measure towards integration came in religious matters.
  • New coins called 'Unite coins' were introduced.

His main achievent was the five articles of Perth. They included: 

  • Holy Communion to be taken by the communicant kneeling.
  • Confirmation was revived and was to be performed by a bishop.
  • Private baptism and private communion were to be available to the sick.
  • Easter, Christmas and certain other religious days were to be celebrated. 
3 of 29

Achieving Union

Things to suggest Union was not achieved

  • James learnt that it would not happen.
  • Bitter debates on Union.
  • James took the title of the 'King of Great Britain', this hardened the attitude of the First Parliament against Union.
  • Delays in the meeting of Parliament, caused by the Plague, allowed the matter to be slightly forgotten about. 
  • Sir Edwin Sandys, was pushing the idea of a 'perfect union' in an attempt to secure the rejection of the whole package by asking for too much. 
  • James ordered Melville to visit England and be educated about the English Church, he refused.
  • The articles were passed but not enforced.
4 of 29

Causes of conflict between James and his first Par

Foreign Policy

  • James made peace with Spain. This made sense financially and fitted with his personal views on war but there were many who were discontented by this. 
  • There was a great deal of discussion concerning the prospect of a Spanish match for James' eldest son Henry as a means of maintaining peace with the Spanish. 

Other Constitutional Issues

  • Questions were raised regarding issues such as Goodwin vs Fortesque.
  • The apology to the house of commons on 1604 saw Parliament stating their Parliamentary privileges, this contrasted greatly with James' view of prerogative.
  • In 1606 John Bates MP was taken to court for refusing to pay a duty on currants. The judges found for the King. 
  • Thomas Shirley was an MP who was imprisoned for debt. His case brought controversy as the warden refused to release him causing Parliament to intervene. 
  • Wardship caused great controversy. It was the idea that if a person died before their heir was 21 their estate would be run by an individual who paid for the right. Many people were therfore leaving money in their will to allow the family to buy their own land.
5 of 29

Causes of conflict between James and his first Par


  • James was determined for England and Scotland to become fully unified. This caused a great deal of controversy. 


  • James was wildly extravagant, he spent lots of money on favourites, court events and wardrobe.
  • In 1608 new duties in the form of impositions were introduced. These were taxes that you had to pay by order of the crown.
  • Attempts at financial reform failed, for example the great contract.
  • Purveyance was the system where the crown could obtain goods at cost from their choice of supplier.


  • There were two dominant factions at James' court - the Howards and the Abbot factions. 
6 of 29

Early financial issues

Problems associated with financial inheritance

  • An inadequete revenue system - the bulk of his revenue came from Crown lands, the prerogative and feudal rights and tonnage and poundage. Crown lands were losing value because: Elizabeth sold off land worth £372 000 just before James came to power, Crown lands were rented out too cheap, re-assessment of the value of the Crown land was overdue.
  • Epedemic corruption and ineffeciency, Crown servants were rewarded in a variety of ways other than salaries. This complicated system encouraged corruption.
  • Inflation, rising prices and falling wages made money less valuable. 

Problems associated with excessive expenditure

  • During the years of the first Parliament, James as a 'foreign' King, had to be seen as generous. Annual expenditure on royal servants was more than doubled that of Elizabeth and household expenses up by 60% leaving a shortfall of £334 000 between income and expenditure.
  • Impositions were levied by virtue of the royal prerogative, to regular trade. All customs are effects and issues of trades and commerce with foreign nations and these are made by the absolute power of the King so he hath absolute power by them to include or exclude whom he should please.
7 of 29

Attempts to solve early financial issues

  • Robert Cecil was convinced that James and Parliament should cooperate on finance.
  • Lord Dorset and Sir Julius Caesar produced a New Book of Rates, hoping to compensate for inflation. They also introduced the Great Farm of the Customs. This leased the customs for seven years to a syndicate, in return for £112 400 a year.
  • Cecil tried to increase the yield from traditional sources of revenue. He also introduced the Book of Bounty to set limits to royal gifts. He was keen to entail land, customs and monopolies to prevent them passing out of royal hands. He revised the Book of Rates and continued the use of impositions. 
8 of 29

Financial problems

Financial inheritance

  • Selling off Crown Land £372 000 - In the short term this will increase profits but James will then not get revenue from this land in the long run. 
  • War debt - Elizabeth sold off Crown Lands to pay for the Spanish war which left the Country in debt. 
  • Uncollective subsidies £1 million - The uncollected subsidies have effectively been spent but because they have not been collected the debt cannot be paid off. 
  • Inadequete revenue system (crown lands, prerogative, feudalism) - Money from crown lands is less due to Elizabeth selling off Crown lands. All these ways of achieving revenue were all old ways of gaining revenue. 

James himself

  • Royal extravagance, gifts, wardrobe - spent £36 377 on clothes in the first five years.
  • Problems with Parliament - lack of communication due to trust issues. 
  • Attitude to debt - applied for loans as he was not afraid of debt.
  • Sold crown lands
9 of 29

Great Contract

Robert Cecil proposed the Great Contract in January 1610. The idea was a plan ot get rid of wardship, purveyance and the feudal system. All this would be in return for Parliamentary supply and the discharge of crown debt. He proposed that if the Commons would make a single grant of £600 000 for the debt and then give the crown a further £200 000 a year, James would give up his rights to purveyance, wardship and some other lesser revenues.

The plan may seem harsh to James but it is also coming at a huge cost for Cecil as well. He is stood to lose a significant amount of his income and this indicates the lengths he would go to achieve reform.

After negotiations it was decided that an annual subsidy of £200 000 will replace purveyance and wardship. However, no Parliamentary grant will be made towards the debt apart from a single subsidy of around £100 000.

The King believed that the money would not be enough and were below his prerogative and Parliament believed that the contract holds no good intentions and couldn't be certain that James wouldn't accept the grant and then continue to pocket the feudal revenue as well. 

Neither side was very positive about the contract. 

10 of 29

Addled Parliament (May 1614 - June 1614)

James' motives in calling this second Parliament 

He needed money to fund the funeral of Henry and th marriage of his daughter Elizabeth.

Parliament's key concerns in the second Parliament

  • Not being called for such a long time.
  • Factions are becoming an issue.
  • Impositions.

Key events and confrontations in the second Parliament

The house of commons were not sympathetic when James asked for funds and they instead presented petitions about impositions. James had a conversation with the Spanish ambassador telling that "The House of Commons is a body without a head"

The end of the second Parliament and consequences

James couldn't get rid of Parliament but, as it voted no subsidies, it was dissolved in June 1614. This meant that it was extremely difficult for James to aquire any funds.

11 of 29

Financial issues in the absence of Parliament

Sale of crown lands

In the short term this improved the financial state because it brought in money, however in the long run he lost income from these lands as he no longer owned them. 

Title of Baronet

In 1611 the title of Baronet was created and sold at a cost of £1095. By 1614 this had bought in £90 000 but by 1622 the price had fallen to £220. This increased disillusion with honours and the court. 

The appointment of the Earl of Suffolk

The Earl of Suffolk became Lord Treasurer in 1614. In his first four years he built Audley End which cost at least £80 000. While Suffolk was in control the crowns debt almost doubled from £500 000 to £900 000. Finally he was dismissed in 1618 and was convicted of embezzlement. 

12 of 29

Financial issues in the absence of Parliament

The Cockayne Project

In 1615, Alderman Cockayne, was a city merchant and a friend of the Hward faction, came up with a plan that was to be a disaster. He said that instead of exporting half finished cloth they should export more finished cloth. He persuaded James that an old merchant company's monopolies should be given to a new company who will export more finished cloth. Cockayne's company did not have the funds to make finished cloth and by 1618 the cloth trade had collapsed. 

Later attempts at reform 1618-20

The treasury was put into commission that was packed with anti-Howard-faction members. They managed to make savings in the cost of running the navy, the royal household and the wardrobe. Despite this, royal debt rose from £100 000 to £800 000 in a year. 

13 of 29

Religious Belief


  • Believed there were still too many traces of the old Catholic faith in the Anglican Church.
  • Wanted to get rid of ceremonies, Bishops or aiuthority at all.


  • Pope had no powers over Christians at all.
  • Belived many ceremonies were unnecessary and evil.
  • Believed that an individuals relationship with God was based on prayer and reading the bible.
  • It was the duty of the minister to preach the word rather than to perform glorious ceremonies.


  • Pope was Gods representative on Earth.
  • Priest held a very special place. He was thought to have direct communication with God.
  • The Priest's special powers were expressed.
14 of 29

Millenary Petition

The Puritans rejected the following:

  • The signing of the cross during baptism - too symbolic.
  • Confirmation - too ceremonial.
  • The administration of baptiam by lay people.
  • Use of the ring in marriage - shouldn't need objects to prove love.
  • Bowing at the name of Jesus.
  • The requirement of the surplice and cap - Priest should look like a normal man.
  • Men being given multiple ecclesiastical positions and recieving pay for each - making money out of the Church.
15 of 29

Why did religion matter?

  • /8563.Ireland remained an area of religious instability for James. Its Catholicism left it prey for foreign influence.
  • James' personal views.
  • Religious conformity was equated with loyalty to the head of state, religious deviance or nonconformity was likely to be seen as treason.
  • James claimed to rule by divine right. Since he saw himslef as answerable to God alone for  his actions. 
  • The King in England was Supreme Governor of the Church of England. 
  • Religious stability was viewed as an essential aim. It meant political stability and authority. 
  • The parish pulpit was an important means of communication between Crown and people in a society where Sunday religious attendance was compulsory. 
  • Religious issues were important because they were often fundamental to developments in foreign policy. 
  • Divine issue at Court
16 of 29

Why was the Hampton court conference held in 1604?

  • Reformation - still Catholic features in the Church 1 century on - people were unhappy amd the Puritans could therefore air their views.
  • James' beliefs - he wants a tolerant and peaceful Church. Rex Pacificus, he was the man between the religion and was written widely on the issue (didn't want a Presbytarian system) - James is intelligent and wise enough to realise that in order to gain peace he had to provide a forum. 
  • Duty and Prerogative - Head of Church authority and he had his suspicions about the Puritans - he wanted to send a message of control and get to know his enemy. 
  • Puritan hopes - James in Presbytarian (Scottish) - Air of optimism, things can change.
17 of 29

James and the Puritans - Positives

  • Holding the Hampton Court Conference - King was willing to hear and discuss with the Puritans.
  • New Bible - In English, more direct, fits in with their idea of what the Church should be like. 
  • Abbot made Archbishop - He is a Puritan, more moderate than Bancroft, leads the Church of England.
  • Presbytarian - short term starting point made Puritans hopeful.
  • His initial attitude to Arminianism.
  • Refused to promote Laud.
18 of 29

James and the Puritans - Negatives

  • Refusing to get rid of Bishops.
  • Hampton Court Conference failed to live up to its promise - all demands were not met and James ended up ranting about his prerogative.
  • Increased payment of the clergy - no progress on Puralism, Bishops investigated Puralism.
  • Made ministers promise to only use authorised services. 
  • Bancroft Canons - rules for Priests. 
  • Book of Sports.
  • Refers to Puritans as a sect.
19 of 29

Legacy of the Hampton Court Conference

  • In a speech to the house of commons James referred to the Puritans as a sect rather than a religion.
  • James established a proclamation in 1604 'enjoining conformity to the established form of the service of God'
  • The King approved Bancrofts Canons in 1604. Convocation drew up these Canons in an attempt to define the laws of the Church so that the Puritans could see whether they were either 'joined with them or severed from them'
20 of 29

Puritans after 1610

January 1611 - Bancroft dies

This promised better relations between James and Puritans because Bancroft was harsh on the Puritans and Abbot was made Archbishop and wasn't as harsh on the Puritans.

1611 - New Bible

Pleases the Puritans as it is in English and contains more of the Puritan's views.

1618 - The Declaration of Sports

Highly annoyed the Puritans as it encouraged acts to be performed on the Sabbath day. The Puritans believed that the Sabbath day should be totally dedicated to God.

1618 - Synod of Dort

Foreign affairs infuriated the Puritans especially when they involve Spain. The Synod of Dort proceeded to James supporting anti-Arminianism which pleased the Puritans. 

21 of 29

James' foreign policy

James' foreign policy aims and the reasons for them

James wanted to make peace with Spain partly due to the fact that he could no longer afford to finance military action but also personal preference. James hoped that by doing this he could maintain contact with both Catholic and Protestant powers. 

The Thirty Years War

It began in 1618 when a German Prince was invited to take the thrown of Bohemia. The Prince was a Protestant and the son-in-law of James, who advised him not to accept. When he ignored this he was seized and the war escalated, the Catholics and Protestants ravaged.

22 of 29

James' foreign policy

How was James expected to act? What did he do?

England couldn't ignore the Catholic agression but English rulers couldn't finance a prolonged war. As a Protestant and father-in-law of the victim, James needed to act. In 1621 he summoned a Parliament, and asked for money to finance intervention in Europe. 

Charles and Buckingham

In February 1623 Charles and Buckingham set off to Madrid by the name of Jack and Tom Smith. The purpose was to meet the Infanta for Charles to fall in love with. However, on the way they were arrested for suspicious behaviour and forced to give up their identities. This arrest meant that in order to get them back James had to agree to many terms which took back all that James had worked for. 

23 of 29

James' attitudes to Catholicism


  • Arminianism
  • Keen interest in religion
  • Mum was Catholic
  • Wife converted to Catholicism


  • He was loyal to his subjects and wanted loyal subjects
  • Aware of the issues that could be caused
  • Realised Catholicism was an issue
  • Doesn't like confrontation 
  • Favourite was a Catholic
  • Non-persucuting
  • Aware that the Pope could issue a Papul Bull so had to keep Catholics on his side
  • Foreign policy implimented
  • Relieved that his accession to the thrown had not degenerated into a war of English succession.
24 of 29

James and the Catholics

James' policy towards Catholics in his early reign

He was initially tolerant towards the Catholics, he relaxed recusancy fines which was not appreciated by Parliament. After the Hampton Court Conference Parliament responded with a bill asking that the Penal laws against Catholics be 'put in due and exalt execution.'

How was Catholicism an important feature of court faction?

With the death of Cecil in1612, faction had become more prominent as the pro-catholic Howard faction and pro-protestant Abbot faction tried to gain control of offices held be Cecil. The Howards were accused of bribing members of the Addled Parliament to create an atmosphere that would ensure a lack of harmony between James and Parliament. Robert Carr of the Abbot faction began to groom George Villiers. 

25 of 29

James and the Catholics - gunpowder plot

What reasons are suggested as motives for the 1605 gunpowder plot

  • Spanish involvement was suggested but it was unlikely that the Spanish would have supported such an enterprise.
  • It was suggested that it was a government plot against Catholics.
  • It was suggested that it was due to the unpopularity of Scots at the English Court.

What were the results of the plot?

  • James became more popular than ever, this was shown by the vote of subsidies in the second session of his first Parliament. 
  • Although it was a setback for his preferred policies.
  • In 1606, the Oath of Allegiance was formed as James hoped to restrain the possible threat from Catholics. It required suspected recusants to accept James as the lawful and rightful King of the realm and reeject the Pope's 'pretended' authority. At first a number of Catholics signed the allegiance but after its condemnation they tailed off.
  • While the gunpowder plot forced the abandonment of James' tolerant attitude towards Catholics, because of its possible consequences for himself and his government, he still remained very tolerant.
26 of 29

James and the Catholics

The 30 years war

  • It made anti-catholicism in England a greater threat than catholicism itself.
  • The increasing involvement of his daughter and son-in-law in the European struggle between Catholic and Protestant interests meant that James had to make a stand at some point.
  • In England James found that both public and parliamentary opinion was strongly anti-catholic. The fear was of a counter-reformation that would eradicate the English reformation and lead to a Habsburg dominance of Europe. 

How did anti-catholicism cause problems for James with Parliament?

James called the Third Parliament in 1621 to ask for subsidies, anticipating possible help for his daughter and son-in-law after the invasion of the Palatinate by Spanish and Bavarian troops. In his opening speech, James referred to the fact that some of his subjects believed he was growing cold in religion on account of his treaty with religion on account of his treaty with Spain. The commons retaliated with a demand for strict enforcement of anti-catholic legeslation.

27 of 29

James and the Catholics

How did issues with Catholicism impact on finance and foreign affairs?

  • Parliament offered inadeuete supplies for a possible intervention in a war that was seen as one heaven sent todefend Protestantism.
  • Anti-catholic feeling encouraged Parliament to claim the right to discuss important matters of state in foreign affairs. In the 1621 Parliament, anti-catholicism produced an unprecedented attack on the Spanish marriage policy. There were bitter exchanges between the King and Parliament on the nature of the royal prerogative and parliamentary privilage. 

Charles and Buckinghams trip to Spain - consequences of their failure

It ended the hope of a diplomatic solution to the Palatinate question. Their return provoked anti-catholicism of hysterical proportions. Anti catholic and pro-protestant factors, coupled with the activities of court faction and some issues of prerogative and privilage were the forces behind: the fall of the Lord Treasurer - Lionel Cranfield, the passing of the monopolies act - subsidy bill, appropriation of supplies - Pym's attack.

28 of 29

James and the Catholics

It has been said that the Catholic issue was even more significant at the end than the beginning of James' reign - how can this be seen to have been the case

Spanish Catholics did not threaten the throne of James but English anti-catholics made it difficult for the King in relations to Parliament. The threat from Catholics at home was largely indirect. While it would be wrong to see James as the founder of the multi-cultural society he was a tolerant man in an intolerant Europe. 

29 of 29


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all British monarchy - Tudors and Stuarts resources »