James I: Speech on the Divine Right of Kings

(1609)

James I gave his Speech on the Divine Right of Kings to Parliament, asserting his stance that a monarch is not subject to earthly authority and derives his right to rule directly from the will of God. James VI of Scotland became James I of England in 1603 upon the death of Queen Elizabeth I, passing the English throne from the Tudor to the Stuart house. He expounded his belief in the Divine Right of Kings through a series of speeches delivered to Parliament in 1609. As the result of his lavish spending habits and challenges to parliamentary authority, James I frequently came into conflict with Parliament and its increasingly powerful House of Commons after ascending the throne. He also faced opposition from gentry seeking political influence and Puritans and Roman Catholics seeking religious reform.

The questions of the extent of power of secular monarchs in relation to the papacy, the limits of monarchical control over the Church, and the right of the people to challenge...

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James I (Yale University Art Gallery)

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