‘This is an important book, and not only because it is the first full-length biography of James I for nearly sixty years. It is a clearly written and innovative political study, drawn from a deep knowledge of the contemporary documents and chronicles. It gives a challenging, not to say unattractive, picture of a royal thug’ – Books in Scotland
Conditioned by a childhood surrounded by the rivalries of the Stewart family, and by eighteen years of enforced exile in England, James I was to prove a king very different from his elderly and conservative forerunners. This major study draws on a wide range of sources, assessing James I’s impact on his kingdom. Michael Brown examines James’s creation of a new, prestigious monarchy based on a series of bloody victories over his rivals and symbolised by lavish spending at court. He concludes that, despite the apparent power and glamour, James I’s ‘golden age’ had shallow roots; after a life of drastically swinging fortunes, James I was to meet his end in a violent coup, a victim of his own methods. But whether as lawgiver, tyrant or martyr, James I has cast a long shadow over the history of Scotland.
Michael Brown is Professor of Scottish history at the University of St Andrews. His main research interests centre on the political society of Scotland c.1250–c.1500 and on the relationships between the various communities of the British Isles during the same period. He has published studies of the practice and ideology of royal and aristocratic lordship in Scotland.