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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

James I
King of Scots
Reign 4 April 1406 – 21 February 1437
Coronation 2/21 May 1424
Predecessor Robert III
Successor James II
Spouse Joan Beaufort
Margaret, Dauphine of France
Isabella, Duchess of Brittany
Eleanor, Archduchess of Austria
Mary, Countess of Buchan
Joan, Countess of Morton
Alexander, Duke of Rothesay
James II of Scotland
Annabella, Countess of Huntly
Father Robert III of Scotland
Mother Annabella Drummond
Born 10 December 1394(1394-12-10)
Dunfermline Palace, Fife
Died 21 February 1437 (aged 42)
Blackfriars, Perth
Burial Perth Charterhouse

James I (10 December 1394 – 21 February 1437) was nominal King of Scots from 4 April 1406 until his death, although his effective reign only began in May 1424.

He spent the earlier part of his reign as a prisoner in England. On his release he made moves to create a strong centralised monarchy in Scotland, and was assassinated by dissident nobles.


Early life

James was born on 10 December 1394 at Dunfermline Palace, Fife, the son of Robert III and Annabella Drummond.

In March 1402 his elder brother, David, starved to death at Falkland in Fife while in the custody of their uncle, Robert, Duke of Albany. With his brother’s death, James became heir to the throne and was created Duke of Rothesay and Earl of Carrick in 1404.

By early 1406, with his health failing and his eleven-year-old son all that stood between Albany and the throne, Robert III decided to send James to France for his protection. In February, an army of James’s supporters were defeated in battle by Albany’s allies at Hermiston Moor, east of Edinburgh, and James, accompanied by the Earl of Orkney, was taken for safety to the Bass Rock to be hidden until he could be shipped to France. He remained there for a month before boarding the Maryenknycht, a merchant ship from Danzig which was bound for France. However, the vessel was intercepted by English sailors near Flamborough Head and James was taken into the custody of Henry IV to begin 18 years of captivity in England.

Upon his father’s death in April 1406, James became King of Scots. However, since the King was in English captivity, Robert, Duke of Albany became Governor or Regent on his behalf. James received an education and excelled in sports, poetry and music.

During this time Scotland was ruled by Regents: first by James's uncle, Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany, and then by Robert's son Murdoch.

Return to Scotland

After the death of James's uncle in 1420, the Scots finally paid the ransom of £40,000, and in 1424 James returned to Scotland to a country in chaos. He took his bride with him – he had met and fallen in love with Joan Beaufort, a cousin of King Henry VI of England, while imprisoned. He married her in London in 2 February 1423. They had eight children.

Children with Joan Beaufort

Reign as king

James I as pictured on the Forman's Roll.

James was formally crowned King of Scotland at Scone Abbey, Perthshire, on 2 or 21 May 1424. He immediately took strong actions to regain authority and control. In one such action he had the Albany family, who had opposed his actions, executed. The execution of Murdoch, Duke of Albany, and two of Murdoch's sons took place on 24 May 1425 at Castle Hill, Stirling.

James ruled Scotland with a firm hand, and achieved numerous financial and legal reforms. For the purpose of trading with other nations, he made Scots coinage exchangeable for foreign currency only within Scottish borders. He also tried to remodel the Parliament of Scotland along English lines. In foreign policy he renewed the Auld Alliance, an alliance with the French, in 1428.

James was born at Dunfermline Palace.

His actions throughout his reign, though effective, upset many people. During the later years of his reign, they helped to lead to his claim to the throne coming under question.

James I's grandfather, Robert II, had married twice and the awkward circumstances of the first marriage (the one with James's grandmother Elizabeth Mure) led some to dispute its validity. Conflict broke out between the descendants of the first marriage and the unquestionably legitimate descendants of the second marriage over who had the better right to the Scottish throne. Matters came to a head on 21 February 1437, when a group of Scots led by Sir Robert Graham assassinated James at the Friars Preachers Monastery in Perth. He attempted to escape his assailants through a sewer after tearing up the floorboards of the room. However, three days previously, he had had the other end of the drain blocked up because of its connection to the tennis court outside, balls habitually got lost in it.[1] (See also: Catherine Douglas.)

A wave of executions followed, of those who had participated in the plot, in March 1437. The authorities executed (among others) James's uncle, Walter Stewart, 1st Earl of Atholl, and Atholl's grandson, Robert Stewart, Master of Atholl — both of them descended from Robert II's second marriage).


See also


  • E W M Balfour-Melville, James I King of Scots, London 1936
  1. ^ Peter Wordie and Lance St John Butler, "Tennis in Scotland" in The Royal Game (Stirling: Falkland Palace Real Tennis Club, 1989) p. 19. ISBN 0-9514622-0-2 or ISBN 0-9514622-1-0.

External links

James I of Scotland
Born: 10 December 1394 Died: 21 February 1437
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Robert III
King of Scots
4 April 1406–21 February 1437
Succeeded by
James II
Scottish royalty
Preceded by
David Stewart, Duke of Rothesay
Heir of Scotland
as heir apparent
26 March 1402–4 April, 1406
Succeeded by
Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The bird, the beste, the fisch eke in the see,
They lyve in fredome, everich in his kind,
And I a man, and lakkith libertee.

James I (1394-12-101437-02-21) was King of Scots from 1406 until his death. As a makar he is credited with the earliest known poem in the Scottish Chaucerian tradition, The Kingis Quair, which describes his eighteen-year detention as a hostage in England and his courtship there of Lady Joan Beaufort.


The Kingis Quair

  • The bird, the best, the fisch eke in the see,
    They live in fredome, everich in his kynd.
    And I a man, and lakkith libertee.
    • Line 183
  • Now was there maid fast by the touris wall
    A gardyn fair, and in the corneris set
    Ane herber grene with wandis long and small
    Railit about; and so with treis set
    Was all the place, and hawthorn hegis knet.
    • Line 211
  • Worschippe, ye that loveris bene this May,
    For of your blisse the kalendis are begonne,
    And sing with us, “away, winter, away!
    Cum, somer, cum, the suete sesoun and sonne!”
    • Line 232
  • And therewith kest I doun myn eye ageyne,
    Quhare as I sawe, walking under the tour,
    Full secretly new cummyn hir to pleyne,
    The fairest or the freschest yonge floure
    That ever I sawe, me thoght, before that houre,
    For quhich sodayn abate anon astert
    The blude of all my body to my hert.
    • Line 274
  • So ferr I fallyng into lufis dance,
    That sodeynly my wit, my contenance,
    My hert, my will, my nature and my mynd,
    Was changit clene ryght in anothir kynd.
    • Line 312
  • Beautee eneuch to mak a world to dote.
    • Line 329
  • The cristall water ran so clere and cold,
    That in myn ere maid contynualy
    A maner soun, mellit with armony,
    That full of lytill fischis by the brym
    Now here now there with bakkis blewe as lede
    Lap and playit, and in a rout can swym
    So prattily, and dressit tham to sprede
    Thair curall fynnis as the ruby rede,
    That in the sonne on thair scalis bryght
    As gesserant ay glitterit in my sight.
    • Line 1060

External links

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Simple English

King James I of Scotland
King of Scots
File:James I of
Reign April 4, 1406February 21, 1437
Coronation May 2 or 21, 1424
Born December 10, 1394(1394-12-10) Edinburgh Castle
Died February 21, 1437 (aged 42)
Place of death Perth
Buried Perth Charterhouse
Predecessor Robert III
Successor James II
Consort Joan Beaufort
Royal House Stewart
Father Robert III
Mother Annabella Drummond

James I (December 10, 1394February 21, 1437) was King of Scots from April 4, 1406, and ruled as King of Scots from May 1424 until February 21, 1437.


He made many economic and legal changes. For instance, he tried to change the Parliament of Scotland to suit English lines. Many of his actions were useful, but they also upset many people. Therefore during the later years of his reign his ability was questioned, but when the king threw a party on February 21, 1437, he was assassinated by a group of Scots led by Sir Robert Graham. He attempted to escape his attackers through a sewer but could not because the sewer was blocked. A wave of executions followed, including the king's uncle, Sir Walter Sterwart and Sir Robert Steward.


  • E W M Balfour-Melville, James I King of Scots, London 1936


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