James I


James I

James I was the son of King Robert III, as a young prince he was sent to France most likely for his own safety but upon his return was captured by the English and held in the Tower by King Henry IV who demanded a ransom. Robert III died at the grand old age of 69 in 1406 and so James' reign began in captivity, he was just twelve years old. The Duke of Albany, Robert Stewart, who was also his uncle, had long coveted the throne and wasted no time in seizing his chance; as the next in line he was appointed Governor. He did little to speed the release of his unfortunate nephew.

James was held for 18 years during which time he was educated, summoned to France to fight alongside the English and married a cousin of Henry VI, Joan Beaufort. In 1424 four years after the death of his uncle James finally returned to Scotland for a ransom of £40,000 and 27 hostages who had to stay in England at James' expense. A seven year truce was signed with England. James had his official coronation at Scone and held his first parliament at Perth in May, 1424, he was thirty years old.

Law and order was a priority for James as he attempted to assert control over his kingdom. He enacted laws which made it clear that anyone who rebelled against him would forfeit their lands and goods, he appointed officials to enact the law and he forbade any further private wars or feuds. He introduced a new tax and tolerated no dissent as he showed when he brought down the house of Albany. James was a forceful personality and soon established a firm rule. He also enriched himself by raising taxes and more importantly confiscating land which made him many enemies.

In 1428 James renewed the Franco-Scottish alliance and peace with England was under threat. James sieged Roxburgh unsuccessfully and then withdrew and the English negotiated a truce. He continued to impose law and order and to increase Royal income and by 1435 had become bloated with greed. In February 1437 some of James' enemies banded together and eight of them entered the Dominican friary in Perth where he was staying with his Queen. James hid in the sewer and fought for his life when he was discovered but he was murdered before help could arrive.

The conspirators who had murdered James were caught quickly and executed. In the aftermath of his shocking murder James grew in popularity as a strong and just king. With his death the throne fell to his six year-old son, the boy who would become James II.