A King Translated: The Writings of King James VI & I and their Interpretation in the Low Countries, 1593–1603, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

A King Translated

The Writings of King James VI & I and their Interpretation in the Low Countries, 1593–1603, 1st Edition

By Astrid Stilma


344 pages

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King James is well known as the most prolific writer of all the Stuart monarchs, publishing works on numerous topics and issues. These works were widely read, not only in Scotland and England but also on the Continent, where they appeared in several translations. In this book, Dr Stilma looks both at the domestic and international context to James's writings, using as a case study a set of Dutch translations which includes his religious meditations, his epic poem The Battle of Lepanto, his treatise on witchcraft Daemonologie and his manual on kingship Basilikon Doron. The book provides an examination of James's writings within their original Scottish context, particularly their political implications and their role in his management of his religio-political reputation both at home and abroad. The second half of each chapter is concerned with contemporary interpretations of these works by James's readers. The Dutch translations are presented as a case study of an ultra-protestant and anti-Spanish reading from which James emerges as a potential leader of protestant Europe; a reputation he initially courted, then distanced himself from after his accession to the English throne in 1603. In so doing this book greatly adds to our appreciation of James as an author, providing an exploration of his works as politically expedient statements, which were sometimes ambiguous enough to allow diverging - and occasionally unwelcome - interpretations. It is one of the few studies of James to offer a sustained critical reading of these texts, together with an exploration of the national and international context in which they were published and read. As such this book contributes to the understanding not only of James's works as political tools, but also of the preoccupations of publishers and translators, and the interpretative spaces in the works they were making available to an international audience.


'… this is a very valuable addition to the growing scholarship on the practice of early modern translation and the representation of royal authority.' English Historical Review 'Astrid Stilma analyzes key distinctions between the king's major writings and their Dutch translations in A King Translated. … It is a study ultimately useful to any scholar interested in Reformation politics or the early modern book industry.' Sixteenth Century Journal 'Stilma carefully unpicks all such professional, intellectual, and ideological networks, which ultimately reinforce the central message of this deeply researched and cogently argued book - that the study of King James’ works and their reception, so crucial to English and Scottish literary and historical enquiry, cannot really halt at British borders.' Translation and Literature 'This is a learned work, and its bibliography is exceptionally full and informative, but it is also designed for those with no familiarity with the Dutch language. Even brief quotations are translated, and guidance is also provided to the Scots dialect in which the works were originally written. It is a worthy example of that interdisciplinary genre from which it took its origin, as Professor Stilma makes clear in a brief but enlightening preface.' Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte ’…this is the best kind of case study which, although highly specialised, sheds light on many areas of wider interest, such as the networks of the early modern book trade, witchcraft beliefs or the different models of translation available in the seventeenth century. Stilma writes finely and this book is a pleasure to read. The book is handsomely produced by Ashgate as part of the St. Andrews Studies in Reformation History series…’ Review of Scottish Culture

About the Series

St Andrews Studies in Reformation History

With the publication of its 100th book in 2012, the St Andrews Studies in Reformation Studies series celebrated an impressive publishing achievement. Since its establishment in 1995 the series has consistently offered high-quality, innovative and thought-provoking research in the field of early modern religious history. By encouraging authors to adopt a broad and inclusive interpretation of ’Reformation’, the resultant publications have done much to help shape current interdisciplinary interpretations of early-modern religion, expanding attention far beyond narrow theological concerns. Each title within the series has added to a body of international research showing how the ripples of the Reformation spread to virtually every corner of European society, both Protestant and Catholic, and often beyond. From family life, education, literature, music, art and philosophy, to political theory, international relations, economics, colonial ventures, science and military matters, there were few aspects of life that remained untouched in some way by the spirit of religious reform. As well as widening conceptions of the Reformation, the series has for the last fifteen years provided a publishing outlet for work, much of it by new and up-and-coming scholars who might otherwise have struggled to find an international platform for their work. Alongside these monographs, a complementary selection of edited volumes, critical editions of important primary sources, bibliographical studies and new translations of influential Reformation works previously unavailable to English speaking scholars, adds further depth to the topic. By offering this rich mix of approaches and topics, the St Andrews series continues to offer scholars an unparalleled platform for the publication of international scholarship in a dynamic and often controversial area of historical study.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Modern / 17th Century