JAMES I (1394-1437) king of Scotland James I was born in Dunfermline in late July 1394 to Robert III (d. 1406) and Annabella Drummond (d. 1401) during a time of political conflict. Captured en route to France, James was in English custody from age 12 to 30 in a number of places, including the Tower of London, Nottingham Castle, and Windsor Castle. James was educated in the households of English kings Henry Iv and Henry v, even serving in France with English armies from 1420 to 1422.
James married Joan Beaufort (d. 1445), the second cousin of Henry VI, in February 1424 and returned to Scotland in April of that year. He was immediately compelled to face two major opponents: his uncle, Robert Stewart, and Alexander MacDonald, Lord of the Isles. He eventually defeated both.
In foreign policy, James I kept up the French alliance against England but also worked out a five-year truce with the English in 1431. Domestically, James carried out taxation in the English style, causing the Scottish nobles to bristle at his attempts to centralize power. Fighting with the English broke out in the spring of 1436, and James suffered defeat at Roxburgh as many of his nobles deserted him. Rebels captured and assassinated James I on February 21, 1437, at Perth. His son, James II, was six at the time.
James I endures as a literary figure. He is author of The Kingis Quair, a dream vision written during his captivity, as well as a number of SoNNETs and other poems. He is often classified with the Scottish Chaucerians.
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