James I’s First Speech to Parliament

King James’s first speech to his English parliament, on 19 March 1604, was his opportunity to introduce himself to his new subjects. He aimed in this speech to present an authoritative self-image, outlining his theories on kingship and tactfully setting aside four decades of Elizabethan rule. He also sought to introduce his vision for the union of Scotland and England, to create a new nation of Great Britain. But he was also aware of tensions, over both his policies and his perception of the relation between parliament and the monarch. These tensions would lend shape to his reign.

Key Questions

  • How did James present himself to his new subjects in England after the death of Elizabeth?
  • How did James perceive the role of parliament, and what challenges did his views face?
  • How did James articulate his vision for the union of England and Scotland?

Further Reading

  • Pauline Croft, King James (London: Palgrave, 2002).
  • Jane Rickard, Authorship and Authority: The Writings of James VI and I (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2012).
  • Conrad Russell, King James VI and I and His English Parliaments (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).

Unless otherwise noted, images in this film are reproduced by courtesy of the Ashmolean Museum and the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford.

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