(Ruled Scotland 1567–1625)
(Ruled England, Ireland, and Scotland 1603–25)
James had already been king of Scotland for 35 years, almost his entire life, when he succeeded Elizabeth I to become king of England and Ireland, too. His mother, Mary, Queen of Scots, had been forced to abdicate in her infant son’s favor because of her marriage to the earl of Bothwell, the suspected murderer of her second husband, Lord Darnley, who was James’s father. James never saw his mother again; she was executed many years later on the charge of conspiring against Queen Elizabeth.
Growing up, James navigated the factions of Scottish politics, divisions heightened by religious disputes over such matters as the appropriate role (or lack of a role) for bishops in the Scottish church. Even as a new English king, he harked back to the issue at his 1604 Hampton Court conference with English Puritans and bishops, twice remarking, “No bishop, no king.”
It was this conference that ultimately yielded James’s approval for the massive, multi-translator, multi-year project that resulted in the 1611 King James Bible. In its dedication, which is not always reprinted today, that Bible begins with its translators’ typically fervent dedication to their king—the “Sun in his strength” who cleared away “clouds of darkness” after Elizabeth’s death.