Was James I of England like Peter the Great’s rule? Some say yes. Some say no. But, let us consider James I and examine closely his rule.
There is much similarity between the two kings. They both reigned for roughly the same amount of time. They were both born within a century of one another. Also both kings had full reign at the time of their reign.
There are many things that we can make general observations about either one of these reigns
The period they ruled over was relatively unstable. There were many dynasties that filled the throne during their reigns. This meant the power was not stable for very long. In addition there were two major wars with France during this time, which changed the power dynamics dramatically for both of them.
James I was from the English blood
His mother was a Scot. He was married to Mary of Burgundy, mother of King Henry II, which shows a link to Scotland. He was a powerful king who reigned for fourteen years and was succeeded by his son, William. His reign was marked by civil war with Scotland.
After his death Mary inherited her husband’s title but without any political power. She was no longer king of England but became the Dowager Queen of England. For the next eleven years no further wars with Scotland occurred.
During this time period there was serious discord between England and Scotland over the Scottish crown. James was no willing to hand over the crown to either of them. He was dealing with the dissension in his kingdom as well. He had to choose between being a king who was popular in England or a king who was popular in Scotland.
Two years later there was another war with Scotland
This time it was a battle over the constitution. James was no longer interested in absolute power. He believed that a consultative process can be used to get a more constitutional form of government.
During this period many of his subjects were killed or displaced. There were two rival kings at this point. Many of his subjects were loyal to one of the kings and others wanted out. This is the usual royalist fault in history. Many Scots rebelled against the king and were slaughtered.
Many of his Scotland followers were taken to England and put to work either as servants or as laborers. Many were tortured and some died. Some were sold into slavery. A royalist historian named Josiah Spode describes the conditions of these Scotland prisoners of war in the 12th century.
“Spode saw that they had been driven to death, for the crime of witchcraft; for James was angry with the populace, because of the murder of a chief woman, and because they had killed a great number of his people in the street. Thus, when they came to England, they had but little to live on, for nothing was left for them. They were given only small bits of food, so that their sufferings might be lessened. There were nothing but a little to live on, and nothing to do.”
The Scottish king was known for being a harsh leader, even when it came to Scotland. However, he was not a bloodthirsty man. This seems to be why there is so much talk today about the king being a tyrant, and that he abused his power.
Many royalists argue that such a view is far fetched. They point out that no one can prove that the king of Scotland abused his power, or that he did not do as he was told to do. Still, they acknowledge that James was a stubborn and troublesome man. Many royalists also believe that those who say that the rule of king James was similar to the rule of Peter the Great are merely working from a distorted history, and say that the two kings really were not similar. They also point out that many of the stories about Peter the Great and King James I are myths.
Still, many people do insist that the way in which King James I ran his kingdom and how he was beloved by all, is quite similar to the way in which Peter the Great was also loved. Was King James I similar to Peter the Great? It is difficult to say, and it would depend on whom you ask. The answer will most likely not be an easy one. But one thing is certain, no one can deny that the history of England is steeped in myth and legend.