In 1603 James made the statement ‘Like a poor man wandering about 40 years in a wilderness and barren soil, and now arrived at the land of promise? ‘ describing that in coming to England he has entered the land of promise. This declaration was somewhat exaggerated, thinking that England is the land of promise and wealth and was merely a comparison to Scotland. James I had more control during his reign in England than when he was in Scotland. In 1603 he had almost complete control, with a parliament in place and he was a firm believer in the divine rights of the King.
This meant that he believed he was chosen to be king by God, and with this came more power as no-body would question God’s decision as to who should rule. This was also good in his thinking about whether England was a better country than Scotland. Because he had more power and because the size of England is much greater than that of Scotland, James was led to believe that England is better and so, in effect, led to believe that he is entering the ‘land of promise’. Religion was a major factor in running the country, the English church being under King’s control.
This gave him the title of ‘supreme governor of” and he along with the church chose the archbishops and bishops. This control over the church and the importance of religion in the country was a helpful factor for the monarchy. They were more noticed and more popular, which in effect strengthened the monarchy’s power. However there were a few problems that James had to face. He was forced to rely on the parliament greatly. England didn’t have a professional army and parliament was told to raise funds to provide an adequately trained military. James also faced the problem of not being able to choose the parliament.
The House of Lords was chosen by the King but the House of Commons were in fact selected by land owners and people of great wealth, so he did no have much power. However the parliament’s main duty was to approve the King’s laws. Whilst most of the time they were accepted, the King didn’t have to take their advice, so practically, the parliament’s only duty was to approve the collection of taxes. Overall, James had a lot of power and there weren’t many restrictions that the parliament could place on the King and his power. Strengths in the economy were limited.
The only strength was that England boasted a very big woollen cloth industry. However, usually industry was on a small scale and craft based, as there was a huge dependency on farming. A steady increase in inflation caused many wage labourers to suffer, where as because it was product trade, traders were not as effected. A large economic problem faced by James was the increase in population. As the population increased, along with it did wages and agricultural costs. However because the costs were more than the wages, the English population was slowly getting poorer and England was spiralling into a depression.
Another problem confront by James was to improve the agriculture. The lack of animals, fertilisers and fodder crops meant that it could not be increased. The risk of a collapse could be when and if the woollen cloth industry fell. Because of the dependency on this industry the economy was at great risk of diminishing. Where as most other countries in Europe had a few inter-continental and overseas trade links, England had none and was not going to change in this area of trade, despite efforts of diversion. Yet another problem for James was to improve the countries economy.
During his reign James I entered a hierarchy of importance into the English society. At the top, of course, was the King himself and beneath him were the Gentlemen. These men usually owned large amounts of land and were very wealthy – to strengthen their status. The Gentlemen were the only people who had the right to vote. The Yeomen, beneath the Gentlemen did not have the right to vote. This is because, generally, they weren’t as respected as the Gentlemen. Yeomen were wealthy working farmers who owned great amounts of land. Husbandmen were beneath the Yeomen.
These people were also, like the Yeomen farmers. However they didn’t own as much land and were nowhere near as wealthy as them. Husbandmen became prone to agricultural and economic problems such as the price revolution where prices slowly rose to an unaffordable price, and many would lose their business because of it. Cottagers, Labourers and Servants were next down on the hierarchy. These people usually owned no land at all and were dependent on other peoples’ wages to live. These people suffered greatly from inflation and were, generally, the most vulnerable.
The English society had a great sense of community in the lower classes as families and communities celebrated together and punished troublemakers and law breakers as a commune. There was, however, and unstable part of society during James’s reign and this came in the form of Migrants and Vagrants who were the poorest of the people in the social hierarchy. Migrants continually moved from town to town, thieving from strangers in order to make a life. Both of these groups of people would own no land and would have to live in the streets.
At the time James entered England the society was rather stable, excluding the Migrants and Vagrants. At the time, Elizabeth I had set up the Church of England, with the monarch as the head of the church. This made England a Calvinist mainstream whereas Scotland was Catholic. This gave James a big problem, as the Scots believed the King would be on their side as he was born and raised in the Catholic faith and had ruled in a Catholic country. Puritans also believed that James would take the Catholics’ side, meaning that they did not like the new monarch.
Despite this dislike for the monarch, there wasn’t much they could do. The King was very good at deceiving the Puritans. He did this by promising them something but, in fact created more time for himself by making them wait. Puritans and Catholics tending to have two different extremist opinions on one another and the religion the country should be. Catholics believed that there wasn’t enough ceremony in church and the Puritans, who believed that Catholic ceremonies were nothing special, wanted there to be more preaching. Generally, Catholicism was hated.
This is because they used to persecute Puritans and because of their Catholic links with France and Spain. This hatred was shown greatly during the Spanish Armada when Spain tried to invade Britain. James managed to place himself in between two extremist points of view, Puritanism and Catholicism and keep it balanced, even though he was sometimes being pulled by each religion. The biggest problem faced by James in terms of the multiple kingdoms was the difference in religion. England was generally Puritan, with a Catholic minority in the north and Protestant where as Wales was Anglican.
In Scotland the main religions were Presbyterianism in the lowland and Catholicism in the high lands. The majority of people in Northern Ireland were Presbyterian and in Southern Ireland people remained Catholic. With so many differences between the multiple kingdoms, James would never have been able to unite them harmoniously and with too many changes he would have had a rebellion. Eventually, he managed to reshape the Scottish church’s structure so that it resembled the Anglicans’. He also managed to convince the heads of church to use Bishops and these Bishops gradually become more powerful.
Also, there was a prayer book introduced, similar to the English one. These were pretty much, the only changes that could be made by James, so although he would have liked to unite the kingdoms it was not entirely possible. I believe that England was not in fact the ‘land of promise’ in 1603 as James suggested. Despite the amount of control he had, even over the parliament, he could not control the multiple kingdoms as much as he would have liked, without the possibility of a revolt. Economically, the country needed drastic improvements, and doing this was the King’s responsibility.
The chance of the woollen cloth trade falling would have been high and if so, James would have been in control of a country in turmoil. This would result in him having to ask for the parliaments help and with them moderately disliking each other already, this would cause uproar in their relationship. The English society was peaceful. The hierarchy explained to everybody where they stood in society and told them what their responsibilities were. It was religion however which was the countries main problem.
James came into power during a period when there were many religions fighting for power. Although, he managed to somewhat balance the pendulum out, it could not have seemed promising at the time he came to the throne. James I saw ruling three kingdoms as having more power. This most probably would have been the case, but there were too many conflicts in the kingdoms that he had to deal with without changing any one kingdom in fear of an uprising. Although at first, James would have seen England as the ‘land of promise’, he would have soon found out that it has not been.