JAMES VI of Scotland, JAMES I of England (1566-1625)
James was the son of Mary Queen of Scots who was imprisoned in Carlisle Castle and eventually executed by her cousin Elizabeth I. The English throne passing to James when Elizabeth died without an heir. As a young man, James showed little interest in female company and had a series of male favourites among his courtiers.
While James entered a marriage of convenience and is said to have had a mistress in Ann Murray of Scotland, it is his relationships with male courtiers that drew attention.
Those with Esme Stewart, later the Duke of Lennox, Robert Carr (Earl of Somerset) and George Villiers (Duke of Buckingham) are well attested, with Sir John Oglander stating ‘I never yet saw any fond husband make so much or so great dalliance over his beautiful spouse as I have seen King James over his favourites, especially the Duke of Buckingham. An epigram of the time claimed that 'Elizabeth was King, now James is Queen'.
At the same time, James publicly declared that penetrative sexual acts between men were to be considered unforgivable crimes, outlawed by the Buggery Act 1533, and punishable by death.
Image: Unknown artist, James I (1566–1625) © The Old Schools, University of Cambridge released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND