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The Cradle King: A Life of James VI & I
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The Cradle King: A Life of James VI & I [Kindle Edition]

Alan Stewart
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Published to mark the 400th anniversary of King James I's accession to the throne of England in 1603, Alan Stewart's biography The Cradle King: A Life of James VI and I offers a fascinating reassessment of one of England's most curiously neglected monarchs. As Stewart suggests, this unfair neglect masks a complex and highly intelligent monarch who achieved the feat of ruling England in peace from 1603 until his death of natural causes in 1625.

The strength of Stewart's biography lies in his exploration of James' other title: King James VI of Scotland. James was crowned king at the age of one "during one of the most bitter and bloody periods in Scottish history", which witnessed the expulsion and subsequent murder of his mother, Mary Queen of Scots, and repeated attempts upon the young king's life. Stewart has trawled a mass of neglected archival material to provide a compelling portrait of the "cradle king", who spent over 50 years as a king, and whose public life was defined by the febrile and violent world of Scottish politics.

In 1603, following the death of Queen Elizabeth I, James took the crown of England, and Stewart spends the second half of his biography unravelling James' labyrinthine financial, domestic and foreign policy, as well as his complex sexuality, and extraordinary relationship with the charismatic Duke of Buckingham.

This is an excellent biography that resituates James as one of England's most astute monarchs, while also comically underlining his faults and foibles. Stewart points out that James "mocked colonial exploration, fell asleep during England's most celebrated plays, and showed little interest in momentous scientific advances", all signs of how his public career was shaped in his infancy as a "cradle king". --Jerry Brotton


"A detailed and informative biography" (Peter Ackroyd The Times)

"Stewart includes plenty of fascinating detail on every aspect of this controversial king's reign...And Stewart's scholarship is impeccable" (Frank McLynn Literary Review)

"A timely new biography" (Antonia Fraser BBC History)

"A sensitive, even tender, account of the formation of James's personality in the violence and savagery of Reformation Scotland" (James Buchan Guardian)

Book Description

The Scottish King James VI took over the English throne from Elizabeth I in March 1603: this is a major biography of a fascinating and misunderstood monarch by a rising star in the academic world.

From the Publisher

Fred D’Aguiar is a poet and novelist. Born in 1960, he was raised in Guyana and London. He now lives in Florida, where he teaches at the University of Miami. His first novel, The Longest Memory, won the 1994 Whitbread First Novel Award.

From the Back Cover

'Stewart includes plenty of fascinating detail on every aspect of this controversial king's reign...And Stewart's scholarship is impeccable.'

Frank McLynn, Literary Review

As the son of Mary Queen of Scots, James had the most precarious of childhoods. By the time James was one year old, his father was murdered, possibly with the connivance of his mother; Mary was in exile in England; and James was King of Scotland. By the age of five, he had experienced three different regents as the ancient dynasties of Scotland battled for power. For the rest of his life, he would be caught up in bitter struggles between the warring political and religious factions.

Yet Jame's caution and politicking won him the English throne on Elizabeth's death in 1603 and he rapidly set about trying to achieve the Union of the two kingdoms. Alan Stewart's impeccably researched new biography makes brilliant use of original sources to bring to life the conversations and the controversies of the Jacobean age. In doing so, he uncovers the extent to which Charles I's downfall was caused by the cracks that appeared in the monarchy during his father's reign.

'A timely new biography.'

Antonia Fraser, BBC History

'A sensitive, even tender, account of the formation of James's personality in the violence and savagery of Reformation Scotland.'

James Buchan, Guardian

About the Author

Alan Stewart is the acclaimed author of Philip Sidney and Hostage of Fortune: The Troubled Life of Francis Bacon (co-authored with Lisa Jardine). He is Reader in Renaissance Studies at Birkbeck, University of London, and Associate Director (with Lisa Jardine) of the newly created AHRB Centre for Editing Lives and Letters. He is in his mid-thirties, studied at Cambridge and now lives in London.
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