The reign of James VI (1567-1625) remains one of the most enigmatic in Scottish history. There are long periods within it which resemble black-holes in our knowledge. This study is a concerted attempt by a group of ten scholars of the reign, drawn from three different disciplines, to shed light on its politics and government, viewed through a series of perspectives: they include the royal court, which is analysed separately though its literature, architecture and ceremony; noble factionalism; relations with England, James VI's paymaster; a revised model of tensions between church and state; and the relationship of the government with various localities including the Highlands, Borders and the South-west, a future locus of opposition to Charles I. It analyses James as literary author, correspondent, husband and 'universal king'. It has a full introduction, extensive notes on further reading and an exhaustive index. The book offers a series of revisions to accepted views of the reign, dismissing both Melvillianism and 'laissez-faire monarchy' as useful tools.
It sees the centre of politics in the interaction between an expanded and increasingly expensive royal court and a phenomenal growth of the state, based on a huge increase in legislation and the business of the Privy Council.
Julian Goodare is the author of "The Government of Scotland, 1560-1625" and "State and Society in Early Modern Scotland. "Michael Lynch is a former professor of Scottish history and paleography. He is a research fellow at the University of Edinburgh and the author of "Edinburgh and the Reformation "and "Scotland: A New History. "