James 1

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James I / Kings and Queens

  • Name  : James I
  • Born  : 1394
  • Died  : 1447
  • Category  : Kings and Queens
  • Finest Moment : Publication of a collection of poems, The Kingis Quair

Born 25 July 1394 in Dunfermline Monastery, James was the second son of Robert III. When he was 12 his older brother was murdered and Robert III sent him on a ship to France for safety. But English pirates took his ship off Flamborough Head and he was handed over to Henry IV of England as a prisoner.

His incarceration, mainly in the Tower of London, was to last 18 years, but at least he received a good education. He was also out of the ambitious reach of the Duke of Albany, Robert Stewart, brother of Robert III. When Robert died, the Duke of Albany became Regent of Scotland.

Obviously Albany was in no rush to set James free by ransom; it was only in 1424, and four years after Albany had died, that the Scots demanded his release. They were by now tired of the incompetence of Murdoch, son of Albany.

James wasted no time in the romance area, marrying the beautiful Lady Joan Beaufort, daughter of the Earl of Somerset in the year of his release. Two months later, in April 1424, he was back in Scotland, to be crowned at Scone. He immediately began to tame the nobles, who had become too powerful during his absence. Murdoch of Albany (his cousin), two of his sons and his father-in-law the Earl of Sussex were tried for lawlessness and hauled off to Stirling to be separated from their heads.

In 1428 he continued to tame the nobles, summoning the Highland chiefs to Inverness. Alexander, Lord of the Isles, was put into temporary custody. John Cameron, Bishop of Glasgow was made his Chancellor, and the country's economy was reorganised. This must have been a busy year for James, as he also renewed the 'auld alliance' with France.

While the people probably enjoyed more stable times, James had made enemies elsewhere. The earl of Atholl, the only surviving son of Robert II (by his second marriage), led a conspiracy against James. Many nobles were also tired of James' continual law-making and estate-grabbing. He was murdered by Sir Robert Graham in Perth, in 1437.

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