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.
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
Steven J. Reid
Amy L. Juhala