King James I of England and VI of Scotland

Image credit: National Portrait Gallery, London

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The son of Mary, Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley, James was crowned King of Scotland in 1567, at the age of one; he succeeded Elizabeth I of England in 1603. His unshakeable belief in the Divine Right of Kings and the money and honours he showered on his favourites fuelled his critics. But his commitment to peace and reconciliation balanced religious divisions and successfully held the three kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland together under one ruler for the first time. An able scholar and theologian and a prolific writer, his greatest act of cultural patronage was probably the Authorised or 'King James' translation of the Bible (1611).
In this portrait the tapestry behind the King, who wears full robes of the Garter, incorporates the Tudor rose and the motto BEATI PACIFICI: 'blessed are the peace makers'.

National Portrait Gallery, London



King James I of England and VI of Scotland




oil on canvas


H 148.6 x W 100.6 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Purchased, 1860

Work type



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