Famous Scots
- King James I (1394-1437)

James I James was born at Dunfermline in July, 1394. But the failing health of James' father, King Robert III, undermined his authority. Power was therefore transferred to the king's brother the Duke of Albany and his eldest son, the Duke of Rothesay. However, Albany imprisoned the Duke of Rothesay in Falkland Palace where he died of starvation in 1402.

The King then sent his younger son, James, to France in 1406 but after he had been captured by pirates off Flamborogh Head, he became a prisoner of the English King Henry IV. King Robert III died some months later.

While James was nominally the king, during his captivity in England, the Duke of Albany (Robert III's brother) and then (in 1420) the Duke's son, Murdoch, acted as Regents. During this time some of the nobles extended their power, including the Macdonald Lord of the Isles who sacked Aberdeen.

James, 12-years-old when captured, was held in the Tower of London but was given a good education. After the death of King Henry V of England in 1422, James was eventually released under the Treaty of London for a sizeable ransom and after a marriage had been arranged, on 12 February, 1424, to Jane Beaufort, daughter of the duke of Somerset. James then returned to be crowned at Scone on 2 May, 1424.

James then set about establishing his rule - the Regent Murdoch and his two sons were beheaded and the Lord of the Isles was imprisoned for a spell.

James had a reputation as a man of culture who wrote poetry - two of his works have survived - "The Kingis Quair" (King's Book) and "Good Counsel".

His marriage resulted in one son, James II and six daughters, one of whom became the wife of King Louis XI of France.

James was keen on renewing the "Auld Alliance" with France but his attempts to dominate the nobility resulted in a conspiracy by them and he was murdered in Perth on 20 February, 1437. His son was only seven years old, plunging Scotland once again into a period of power-hungry regents.

The illustration above is a monument to James I in the grounds of Dryburgh Abbey in the Scottish Borders.

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