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King James I of Scotland

Third Stuart Monarch

After the suspicious deaths of two of his sons, David, Duke of Rothesay and Robert, King Robert III, fearing for the life of his remaining twelve year old son James. Believing France to be a safer place for him thank Scotland he sent him away with an armed guard.  En route James was captured by pirates and he was taken to London and given to Henry IV of England.  It is said his father died of shock when he heard of this which left James uncrowned.  Scottish rivals referred to him as the son of the late King, in official records rather than the heir to the throne.

Henry IV treated him well, allowing him a good education.  James wrote poetry, and was schooled in philosophy, theology, law and developed an appreciation for architecture and love of sport. Despite being a confined  guest of His Majesty, James also had a small household and was permitted visitors.

When his  father died, the new King, Henry V, held him in the Tower of London and Windsor castle alongside other Scottish prisoners.  Later, however Henry decided to favour him and James was invited to travel with him to France.

Henry V died when his son Henry VI was an infant and a Regency Council ruled on his behalf until the child.  After eighteen years of captivity they set plans in motion to return James to Scotland.

Without a crowned heir in place, Robert Stewart, the First Duke of Albany had controlled the Scottish court.  He refused offers to exchange James for a Ransom.  When the Duke died in 1420 his son, Murdac/Murdoch, became Regent and advocates for the House of Stuart lobbied for ransom demands to be accepted.  A of £30,000 was agreed upon on 28 March 1424.  James was finally released and  was crowned King at Scone on 21 May 1424.

Within a year James moved against Murdac and other members of the Albany Stewarts. They were arrested and executed in 1425 in Stirling castle.

James proceeded to work to turn around the financial woes of his kingdom. He targeted his enemies and confiscated their estates. He ensured administration and financial affairs of his household were brought under his own supervision and he boosted his income through taxation.  He was constantly plagued by those questioning the legitimacy of his rule. His father, Robert III had married twice and had seven children with his first wife Annabella Drummond and also two illegitimate sons.   James failed to recognise the extent of the threat posed by conspirators. 

On 20 February whilst the King and Queen lodged at Blackfriars’ Monastery in 1437 around thirty men were let into the building. James sought safety in a sewer tunnel, not realising it had been closed off and was trapped then murdered.

King James I of Scotland
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