Timeline: The Road to Hampton Court

In a sense, the translation project that produced the King James Bible began on a January day in 1604 at the royal palace of Hampton Court. Midway through a three-day conference, the scholar and clergyman John Rainolds asked the king to approve the production of a major new English translation of the entire Bible. He agreed—and the result is known today as the King James Bible.

The deeper origins of the King James Bible, however, go back centuries earlier. This timeline explores some of the key elements that led up to that moment at Hampton Court, from Old English poems based on the Bible, to the wide range of previous English Bibles—some translated under conditions of great danger, others with the approval of the church and crown.

Those earlier Bible translations not only led the way to the King James Bible, they also contributed to it. Following specific instructions, the King James Bible translators drew freely from many of the English Bibles shown here, as the translators readily acknowledged. The literary masterpiece that they created includes countless lines and phrases from the diverse translations of the past.

Timeline: Select the start button to launch the timeline.