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Delusions of Divinity or Political Realism?

Understanding the Divine Right Kingship of King James VI and I, and 16th Century Political Thought Regarding Temporal Power

ADAMOPOULOS, ANGELOS (2024) Delusions of Divinity or Political Realism?

Understanding the Divine Right Kingship of King James VI and I, and 16th Century Political Thought Regarding Temporal Power.
Masters thesis, Durham University.

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King James VI and I has always been a controversial figure. The question of whether his reign was inferentially beneficial or detrimental for the countries he reigned over, is still present, but what can be stated beyond doubt is that the monarch’s decisions have always been associated with the ideas of the Divine Right of Kings, to a lesser or a greater extent, and that is the starting point, given that many questions arise, regarding it. It is undeniable that King James had a complex and deep personality, one that we need to analyze in depth in order to extract conclusions as to the degree of influence of his ideology on his politics. Therefore, did James’s ideology dictate his course of action, or maybe the difficulties he had to face in order to achieve his goals forced his hand? In order to address this, it is essential to focus almost exclusively on events that preceded James’s ascension to the English throne. There is also a series of questions related to the aforementioned subject: What were the origins of the association of monarchy with divinity? What were the contradicting perceptions and views of monarchy in the sixteenth century regarding its origin, legitimacy and most importantly, its limitations? What was, and what should, be the position of temporal power within society and what was its relationship with spiritual power? How did long-standing concepts of royal power affect sixteenth century theories? An investigation of these issues, leads to the second group of questions, focused on the divine right of kings itself. Was James’s doctrine, arguably articulated most fully in his
treatises, a product of vanity? Perhaps a by-product of his religious upbringing and his obsession with protestant beliefs combined with his knowledge of history and the various examples he used as points of reference? Maybe a way to justify the policies he introduced? A defense mechanism against what he regarded as threats? Regardless, James’s theory of monarchy, as it was formulated during the first part of his life and specifically during the last decade of the sixteenth century, undoubtedly foreshadowed the controversy and subsequent turmoil that would occur not only during his reign but also after his death. The latter due to the assumption that the events that unfolded in Charles’ time half a century later were a result of the so-called divine right absolutism of the Stuarts, the foundations of which were supposedly laid by James.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > History, Department of
Thesis Date:2024
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:11 Jan 2024 09:59

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