King James VI and I: Political Writings (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought)

ISBN: 0521447291
ISBN 13: 9780521447294
By: James I of England Johann P. Sommerville

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About this book

James VI and I united the crowns of England and Scotland. His books are fundamental sources of the principles which underlay the union. In particular, his Basilicon Doron was a best-seller in England and circulated widely on the Continent. Among the most important and influential British writings of their period, the king's works shed light on the political climate of Shakespeare's England and the intellectual background to the civil wars which afflicted Britain in the mid-17th century.James' political philosophy was a moderated absolutism, with an emphasis on the monarch's duty to rule according to law and the public good. Locke quoted his speech to Parliament of 1610 approvingly, and Hobbes likewise praised "our most wise king."This edition is the first to draw on all the early texts of James' books. Contents include:• Basilicon Doron• The Trew Law of Free Monarchies• Triplici Nodo, Triplex Cuneus. Or, An Apologie for the Oath of Allegiance• A Meditation upon the 27th, 28th and 29th Verses of the 27th Chapter of Saint Matthew• His Maiestes Declaration, Touching his Proceedings in the Late Assemblie and Conuention of Parliament• speeches to Parliament and in Star Chamber

Reader's Thoughts

W. Bradford Littlejohn

Forgot to put this one up--read this a little while back as part of my survey of late sixteenth-century political thought--or rather, I read the two most important parts of it: the Basilikon Doron and the Trew Lawe of Free Monarchies. I first read the latter back in freshman year, in History class. I remember being impressed even then with the winsomeness of James's argument, and surprised at myself, such an anti-federalist then, for being so attracted to a "royal absolutist." But the appeal was still there this time around, and I couldn't help but find myself cheering along when he scored points against the Presbyterians. I'm still not sure what it is, but I have this vague idea that the sober realism with which someone like James views the limitations of the political sphere, and the need to simply live with those limitations and trust God to judge and failures, actually, "royal absolutist" or not, may support a more limited government than the kind of political perfectionism of rebellious republicans, for all its talk of putting checks upon the power of kings. I felt the same way when I read De Maistre, whose perspective is remarkably similar to James. Anyway, it's still just a vague hunch--if anyone has any light to shed on it, please do.The Basilikon Doron is a remarkably wise and eloquent letter of instruction to his son Charles on the virtues necessary to be a good king--if reading this little gem doesn't turn you into a Jacobite sympathizer, nothing will.

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