James VI and Noble Power in Scotland 1578-1603  book cover
1st Edition

James VI and Noble Power in Scotland 1578-1603

ISBN 9781138946064
Published January 6, 2017 by Routledge
236 Pages

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Book Description

James VI and Noble Power in Scotland explores how Scotland was governed in the late sixteenth century by examining the dynamic between King James and his nobles from the end of his formal minority in 1578 until his accession to the English throne in 1603.


The collection assesses James’ relationship with his nobility, detailing how he interacted with them, and how they fought, co-operated with and understood each other. It includes case studies from across Scotland from the Highlands to the Borders and burghs, and on major individual events such as the famous Gowrie conspiracy. Themes such as the nature of government in Scotland and religion as a shaper of policy and faction are addressed, as well as broader perspectives on the British and European nobility, bloodfeuds, and state-building in the early modern period.


The ten chapters together challenge well-established notions that James aimed to be a modern, centralising monarch seeking to curb the traditional structures of power, and that the period represented a period of crisis for the traditional and unrestrained culture of feuding nobility. It is demonstrated that King James was a competent and successful manager of his kingdom who demanded a new level of obedience as a ‘universal king’. This volume offers students of Stuart Britain a fresh and valuable perspective on James and his reign.

Table of Contents


Miles Kerr-Peterson

  1. James VI and James Douglas, Earl of Morton

  2. Amy Blakeway

  3. Of Bairns and Bearded Men: James VI and the Ruthven Raid

  4. Steven J. Reid

  5. Friendship, Politics and Religion: George Gordon, Sixth Earl of Huntly and King James VI, 1581-1595

  6. Ruth Grant

  7. James VI, Noble Power and the burgh of Glasgow, c. 1580-1605

  8. Paul Goatman

  9. He "made them friends in his cabinet": James VI’s suppression of the Scott-Ker feud

  10. Anna Groundwater

  11. Noble Power in the West Highlands and Isles: James VI and the End of the Mercenary Trade with Ireland, 1594-6

  12. Ross Crawford

  13. Rise of a Courtier: the second Duke of Lennox and strategies of Noble Power under James VI

  14. Adrienne McLaughlin

  15. ‘For the King Favours Them Very Strangely’: The Rise of James VI’s Chamber, 1580-1603

  16. Amy L. Juhala

  17. The Octavians

  18. Julian Goodare

  19. The Gowrie Conspiracy: do we need to wait until the Day of Judgement?

Jenny Wormald

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Miles Kerr-Peterson was recently awarded a PhD in history at the University of Glasgow, his thesis being a study of the life and lordship of George Keith, fourth Earl Marischal. His research focuses on early modern Scottish noble and academic cultures.

Steven J. Reid is Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Glasgow. His previous publications include Humanism and Calvinism: Andrew Melville and the Universities of Scotland, c.1560-c.1625 (2011).


Shedding new light on both familiar and neglected episodes and issues from James’s Scottish reign, this wide-ranging collection considerably enhances our understanding of later sixteenth-century Scottish politics, and of the personality of the first ruler of Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland.

Alan MacDonald, University of Dundee, UK