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King James I

James I of England by Daniel Mytens

When Queen Elizabeth I died without any children, her closest relative - King James VI of Scotland (great-great-grandson of Henry VII) -  therefore became the heir to the throne. He was crowned King James I of England on 25th July 1603 at Westminster Abbey and this began a period of reign by the House of Stuart.

Some English people didn't like the idea because they thought of him as a foreigner and didn't understand him but others were pleased to have a king in charge after many years of having a woman on the throne.

He was the first monarch to rule both countries and the first to call himself 'King of Great Britain'. A new flag representing this royal union between England and Scotland was introduced on 12th April 1606 - it joined together the red St. George's Cross of England on a white background with the white St. Andrew's Cross of Scotland on a blue background and was known simply as 'the British flag' or 'the flag of Britain' at the time.

Flag of Great Britain (English version)

James was an Anglican and worshiped the Church of England. He believed that people should be able to read the Bible for themselves and he ordered a new English translation (it was currently in a mixture of: Greek, Hebrew and Latin). It became known as the Authorised King James Version and could be found in every church in England. Produced by 47 scholars, it was first published in 1611 and is still used all over the world today.


He led such an extravagant lifestyle that he soon became unpopular with both Parliament and the people. Some called him 'The wisest fool in Christendom', meaning that although he was clever, he had no common sense.

He died on 27th March 1625 at Theobald's Park, Hertforshire (aged 58) and was buried at Westminster Abbey. He left the country badly in dept.