The Background
A Royal Childhood
A Guid King?
Previous Conflicts
The Way Paved
The Crowns United
The Aftermath

a royal childhood

James was raised by strict Protestants, fearful of his mother's influence. Following his mother's forced abdication of her crown, the infant became King, crowned while less than two years old. While the country was governed by Regents, James was brought up in the security of Stirling Castle. He was tutored by the austere George Buchanan, who as well as providing him with a good education, shaped the young king's mind with regard to how he viewed his mother.

The young James' life was beset by the unsettling effects of various plots and attempted coups against him and those governing in his place. Regents were appointed to govern the country until the King reached maturity, the first being the Earl of Mar. Those such as Moray and Lennox were murdered and the King himself was the subject of plots such as the Ruthven Raid where he was abducted by noblemen.

Essential to any monarch was a suitable marriage and the production of an heir. James VI managed both of these.

George Buchanan

George Buchanan is held as being responsible for providing James VI with as broad an education as was possible in his day. As well as educating him in many foreign languages and theology, Buchanan also poisoned the King's mind against his mother, passing on speculation and fiction on her character as fact. Buchanan's manner had a very strong influence on James so much so that the King is said to have remained frightened of him for a large part of his life. James did reject some of Buchanan's teachings when he achieved maturity, especially those on the relationship between a monarch and his subjects.

Earl of Mar

The 1st (or 6th) Earl of Mar was a powerful 16th century political figure, being variously commander of Edinburgh Castle, signatory to the order committing Mary, Queen of Scots to Loch Leven castle, Regent of Scotland on her flight to England, guardian of her infant son King James VI, then regent again on the death of Lennox in 1571. He also courted the political favours of Elizabeth I of England. Mar was one of four Regents who governed Scotland before the King reached maturity. When he died, his wife continued as the King's guardian.

James VI portrait, aged 19

James VI and Anne of Denmark had seven children, three sons (the second of which was the future Charles I) and four daughters. The painting is thought to have been executed around 1585. It was painted as a prenuptial portrait sent to the Danish court to entice a royal bride. This the young king succeeded in doing as he married Anne of Denmark in Oslo in 1589. It was the custom at this time for the European royal families to exchange portraits as the first step in considering potential alliances.

back to top images are drawn from the SCRAN database