Portrait of James as a boy, after Arnold Bronckorst
The History Learning Site, 17 Mar James I has always been viewed as an extravagant king who gave no thought to finance — if James wanted something, he had it regardless of cost. When James moved south from Holyrood to London inhe was greatly impressed by the lavish entertainment put on for his benefit by various noble families.
James concluded that he could expect even better after he was crowned as a king, as by rights, he would be able to live a far grander lifestyle than noble families. James believed that all royalty should have a lifestyle based around magnificence and majesty and that the resources of the state should provide whatever was necessary in terms of cost.
James also believed that his family had the right to live in similar magnificence. Royal finances under Elizabeth had effectively oriented around one person as the queen never married. However, with a wife and children, the first Stuart royal family in England was likely to cost a great deal more to support than Elizabeth.
James believed in royal magnificence and this included treating his favourites. James considered it perfectly acceptable to pay off their debts using his own revenue before paying off his own debts. Robert Carr had been a page to James in the Scottish royal court.
He had come to London as a member of the Hay household.
However, he had very little money and James decided to change this. The favourite of the king had to have a suitable standing in society and that included property. James could not hand out crown land as these had been entailed. In solving this problem, he was helped by his Chief Minister Robert Cecil.
He suggested to the king that the manor and land at Sherbourne could be handed over to Carr as it had belonged to the imprisoned Sir Walter Raleigh. It could be argued that those Englishmen needed a royal handout a lot less than their Scottish counterparts because of their extra wealth — but it did cause antagonism in the royal court.
However, to maintain a balance, all major government and administrative positions — with the power and rewards these held — went to Englishmen and James reminded Parliament of this in James did admit that he had been far too extravagant in the first three years of his reign and he did promise Parliament that the days of heavy spending were over when he addressed them in — the year of the attempted Great Contract.
He excused his behaviour by stating that the sheer excitement of coming from a relatively poor background — when compared to the English royal family — into one of seemingly huge wealth had been too much for him to control himself. James even promised Cecil that he would curb his spending once it became apparent to him, that his wealth was not as great as he had thought.
James did admit that he had been far too extravagent in the first few years of his reign and he did promise Parliament that the days of heavy spending were over when he addressed them in — the year of the Great Contract. James excused his behaviour and explained that it was out of excitement at moving from the relative poverty of the Scottish crown to the expected riches of the English throne.
Cecil, though highly concerned at royal finance also expressed his belief that a king sholud live in magnificence.James' extravagance with his favourites, he was giving away £80, a year, Ante-supper costing £ Royal wardrobe expenditure quadrupled Had children so needed more money e.g.
Henry's funeral and Elizabeth's marriage in cost £, Furthermore as this this is a letter from the ‘Lord Treasurer’ to ‘The Chancellor of the Exchequer’ this is the most reliable source about whether it was James’ extravagance that was causing him financial problems as between them they are the people who look after and maintain the treasury.
- MP's like Haskyn also felt that the real problem was James' extravagance 'the royal cistern had a leak' - When Parliament reassembled, they delayed making a decision - James got angry and told them their delay was a 'disgrace'.
But James I's extravagance meant that expenditure exceeded income by about £80, p.a.
(By , his wife - Anne of Denmark - had also run up debts of over £40, just on clothes and similar fripperies). Oct 08, · Even factors causing financial problems which seem at first glance unrelated to James, can on further inspection be considered to be partially problems of James’ own making.
In conclusion, Elizabeth’s legacy James’ extravagance served to severely hamper finances. In an attempt to convince James to curb his extravagance, he wrote a series of frank tracts on the matter, and he tried to induce the king to grant limited pensions .