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Kingship and Crown Finance under James VI and I, 1603-1625

Kingship and Crown Finance under James VI and I, 1603-1625

John Cramsie
Volume: 26
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Kingship and Crown Finance under James VI and I, 1603-1625
    Book Description:

    This book rejects outright the stereotypical image of James VI and I as mindlessly extravagant and integrates crown finance with James's kingship. It offers both a fresh view of crown finance - one of the blackest elements in James's historical reputation - and a reconstruction of how the king who wrote on divine right monarchy operated his kingship in practice. Drawing on both his humanist education, particularly his reading of Xenophon's ‘Cyropaedia’, and his kingship in Scotland, James developed a clear, considered agenda for crown finance. He used it consciously to underwrite his novel position as the first king of "Great Britain" and to consolidate the Stuart dynasty outside of Scotland. This study analyses in detail how James fashioned and refashioned political regimes in England to further this agenda between 1603-25. JOHN CRAMSIE is Assistant Professor of British and Irish History at Union College, Schenectady, New York.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-098-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
    John Cramsie
  4. Note on Sources
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Introduction: The Politics of Crown Finance in England
    (pp. 1-12)

    The demands of crown finance in England generated an extended debate about the practice of kingship and governance under James VI and I. The transformation of economic resources into revenue required political action on the part of the king and those who assisted him in ruling. It obliged him to extend legal claims to his subjects’ wealth and property or to ask directly for support through taxation, loans and gifts. In effect, the king sought to transfer his subjects’ wealth from their hands to his own by persuading them to send some part of their ‘own’ to Whitehall or to...

  7. 1 Jacobean Crown Finance
    (pp. 13-39)

    Crown finance is relatively well-studied from a structural standpoint. Traditionally parliamentary taxation has been separated from prerogative revenue and prerogative revenue further divided into customs, lands and the profits of assorted regalities. On the expenditure side, the offices of state, household and royal bounty are most commonly highlighted as areas for cost-cutting. Jacobean governors used a similar framework, but were a good deal less concerned with paradigms once description ended and policy-making began. It is perhaps more profitable to follow that lead, eschew a structural approach and consider finance as a matter of governance. Hence the issues are how governors...

  8. 2 Kingship and the Making of Fiscal Policy
    (pp. 40-66)

    James VI brought his own experience of kingship to England in 1603 and his gender, ethnicity and personality reshaped the polity. Finance was one aspect of governance that was particularly affected. Typically James’s influence on finance is identified with wasteful extravagance and corruption. Neither charge can be refuted, but they deserve to be contextualised. James was hardly more extravagant than his Tudor predecessors or his early modern contemporaries. For Francis Bacon and other governors who looked to the Tudor past, Henry VII’s expenditures were virtually a Jacobean ideal, but less for scale than form: ‘he never spared charge which his...

  9. 3 Crown Finance and the New Regime, 1603–1608
    (pp. 67-88)

    The Elizabethan regime aged badly under the strains of war and James had the pleasure of discovering the wood beetle in his inheritance: ‘xenophobia, war-weariness and the turmoil created by rising prices, bad harvests and outbreaks of plague and influenza, fomented particularism and resistance to the crown’s fiscal and military demands’.¹ The view from Edinburgh was somewhat different. Scotland was untouched by war and James’s ambitions focused on consolidating his accession and effecting a union of England and Scotland. This contrasts with the beleaguered fin de siècle regime which governed in London. Beyond the accession itself, Elizabeth’s governors were decidedly...

  10. 4 The Refoundation of the Monarchy, 1609–1610
    (pp. 89-116)

    The search for a financial settlement took a decisive turn when Salisbury persuaded James to reconvene parliament and make it the venue for an ambitious ‘refoundation’ of the monarchy. Salisbury presented James with the most comprehensive blueprint for his estate in the reign, but it was a decidedly political assessment. The argument was simple: James’s estate could not subsist without further burden to his subjects and it was politically inadvisable to impose that burden outside a parliamentary settlement. Salisbury wanted to attempt what Henry Knyvett proposed in 1593, the creation of an annual tax to support the crown’s necessities. This...

  11. 5 The Failure of Jacobean Kingship, 1611–1617
    (pp. 117-150)

    There is a timeless feel of failure and decay to the 1610s: the death of Robert Cecil, the emergence of Robert Carr as James’s favourite, an addled parliament, the poisonous intrigues of the Howards, Carr’s fall and the spectacular rise of George Villiers. James appears as an indolent king presiding over a regime riddled by faction, corruption and murderous intrigue. Contemporaries painted these details in vivid hues and left historians a compelling lead to follow, but the portrait is vastly overdrawn. The regime’s failures and the nastiness of patronage politics are justifiably recorded, but they have skewed the perspective. We...

  12. 6 Crown Finance and the Renewal of Jacobean Kingship, 1617–1621
    (pp. 151-179)

    The breakdown of fiscal policy at the time of James’s Scottish journey marks a watershed in both finance and kingship. Upon his return to England James engaged more intensively with policy and governance. Although this involved a return to the more active personal rule of the earlier period of the reign, paradoxically, within the next two years a distinctively new regime emerged. While the regime which lasted until 1610 took its character from the personal rule of a male monarch and its successor, kingship-by-favourite, the late Jacobean regime was unique in the rise of Villiers to ‘minister-favourite’ and, eventually, to...

  13. 7 The Incomplete Reformation of Finance and Politics, 1621–1624
    (pp. 180-204)

    Lionel Cranfield stands out in a reign full of larger-than-life personalities. Menna Prestwich did much to spotlight his career while simultaneously pillorying most of his contemporaries, particularly James, Salisbury and Villiers.¹ Our sense of the period has changed significantly since her study appeared in 1966, not least in the abandonment of Whig perspectives and hostile stereotypes. Alongside a more favourable historiography, we now seek to understand the dynamic interaction of political ideas and action. There is a great deal of Cranfield the sharp businessman and frustrated reformer in Prestwich’s work. However, her Cranfield is as much a boorish bureaucrat as...

  14. Conclusion: The Failure of Kingship and Governance
    (pp. 205-218)

    What is it about the management of Jacobean finance that constitutes a failure of kingship and governance rather than simply the functional breakdown of an obsolete and antiquated financial system? It is hardly surprising that a study which focuses on the intersection of politics and finance will conclude that responsibility lay with the individuals practising the art of governance. None of the regimes that James constructed was able to avoid failure in key aspects of kingship and governance which had little to do with administration: James and his governors did not make or sustain effective policy with the notable exceptions...

  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 219-236)
  16. Index
    (pp. 237-242)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 243-243)