and burned. If James's theological outlook was strongly affected by Young, the elderly Buchanan influenced James in another way. Buchanan undertook an onslaught against James' mother Mary, Queen of Scots. It does seem to have affected the young king; in 1586-87 when an English court found his mother guilty of treason, James coldly informed Elizabeth I that his mother 'must be content to drink of all she has brewed'. At this time James longed for confirmation of his right of succession to Elizabeth's throne - the king wrote to the Earl of Leicester 'How fond [foolish] and inconstant I were if I should prefer my mother to the title.'

Another facet of James' personality that underwent attack by contemporaries was his alleged cowardice, his lack of physical courage. Weldon wrote scathingly about James' padded clothes, protection that stemmed from paranoia of an assassin's knife. There was still in the expectations of subjects something of the traditional function of the king as a strong martial leader, and such behaviour did not inspire confidence. The appearance of the monarch mattered Weldon's scathing remarks regarding James I's physique, if distorted by bias, do originate from some original truths. Aware of a number of plots against him while king of Scotland, compounded by the infamous Gunpowder Plot [5] (the botched Catholic conspiracy to destroy both king and Parliament within two years of succeeding Elizabeth I) James became wary of the power of resistance theories to influence fanatics. In 1610, Europe was shaken by the assassination of the Bourbon king Henri IV by a fanatical Jesuit. James had good reason to be wary of assassination in an era during which both extremes of Protestant and Catholic faiths were beginning to advocate theoretical justifications for resisting and deposing, even killing, monarchs. James can be forgiven for his fears.

[5. Gunpowder Plot, 1605: Abortive Catholic conspiracy to murder James I, the Queen, Prince Henry and numerous members of Parliament by planting barrels of gunpowder in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament. The group of plotters was led by Robert Catesby with the assistance of Guy Fawkes. They were motivated by disappointment at James's failure to ease the position of English Catholics and hoped the act of murdering the King would rouse widespread Catholic rebellion. However in event the plot was leaked, the conspirators tried and executed. The Plot led to the renewal of legislation against Catholics in 1606 and incited Protestant fears of popish plots and the King's paranoia about assassination.]

James VI of Scotland

James' reign in Scotland before his accession to the English throne was in many ways of great value to his kingship in England. In the realms of politics and religion James had gained experience and learned valuable lessons north of the border. The art of managing the men of the political elite was essential to successful government in the early modern period, and James developed full understanding of and dextrous ability at balancing factions while King of Scotland. He brought this to England and for a large part of his reign successfully controlled the factions of the Howards and Cecils, and later the 'Protestant' faction at the Jacobean Court. Although in comparison with its English counterpart the Scottish parliament was underdeveloped, institutional development is not the precondition of successful exertion of political power. This is demonstrated by James VI's reign. During the late sixteenth century parliament had become an important arena for playing out Scottish politics and it is misleading to view the body as servile or malleable.

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