HOME ~ Contact us

JAMES I, KING OF SCOTLAND, and Joan Beaufort

JAMES I, KING OF SCOTLAND. [A2] [PC M3-17-4-24].
Born on 10 DEC 1394 in Dumferline, Fife, Scotland; son of ROBERT III (Stuart) [F4522460] and Annabella DRUMMOND [F4522461]. He was born into a world of political intrigue and power struggles. In 1402 his elder brother, David, was starved to death in prison at Falkland in Fife.


In 1406, before the death of his father, Prince James was sent to France for his own safety, principally from his uncle, Duke of Albany, who had already murdered his elder brother, David. While on the way to France, James was captured by English shipping off King's Lynn before he ever reached France. He was handed him over to Henry IV, King of England, who imprisoned him in the Tower of London and demanded a ransom.

His father Robert III died in 1406, said to have died from grief over the capture of James. James was made King of Scotland on 4 APR 1406, when the Scottish Parliament declared him to be king; but in his absence, his uncle, Robert Duke of Albany, was appointed to Regent to rule in his behalf. Albany made no attempt to obtain James' release. In fact, Robert of Albany secured the release of his own son Murdoch, who was captured at the same time, but did not make the same gesture for James.

James spent the next eighteen years of his life in the captivity at the English Court, in Windsor Castle and in secure manor houses near London.. Henry saw that he received an education appropriate to his royal birth. James even eventually served the English military in France.

By the time James was eighteen, he was energetic, cultivated, and accomplished. He loved music, wrote poetry, and was a fine athelete. One day in looking from his window, he saw a beautiful young woman, the Lady Joan Beaufort, a close relative of Henry IV, strolling in the gardens below, and fell in love with her. Inspired by love, he wrote the poem The King's Quair, an allegorical romance and one of the earliest major works of Scottish literature.

After the death of his uncle in 1420, and also the death of Henry V, his ransom was negotiated, and the ransom of 40,000 was eventually paid.

He married his love, Joan BEAUFORT, on 2 February 1424 in (London-S2)(Holyrood Abbey, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland-S1). It is probable that due to their pending marriage and the agreements that James must have made that the Treaty of London was made in December 1423, releasing James for ransom.

When James returned to Scotland in 1424, he took his young bride with him. They would have eight children, including the future James II of Scotland, and Margaret, wife of Louis XI of France.

James was formally crowned King of Scotland at Scone Abbey, Perthshire, on (2)(21) MAY 1424. Upon his return to Scotland he found the country in chaos. James was determined to restore order in his kingdom. He immediately took strong actions to regain authority and control. Over the next seven years, he reformed Scottish administration. He founded what became The Court of Sessions. His energy and ruthlessness antagonized many of the nobles who had taken advantage of his absence to expand their own power. James was particularly determined to curb his rivals descended from his grandfather Robert II. He confiscated estates, arrested some and exectued others.

Among those executed were the Albany family, who had opposed his actions. The execution of Murdoch, Duke of Albany, and two of Murdoch's sons took place on May 24, 1425 at Castle Hill, Stirling.

He proceeded to rule Scotland with a firm hand, and achieved numerous financial and legal reforms. For instance, for the purpose of trade with other nations, foreign exchange could only be exchanged within Scottish borders. He also tried to remodel the Parliament of Scotland along English lines. However, in foreign policy, he renewed the Auld Alliance, a Scottish-French (and therefore anti-English) alliance, in 1428.

In 1429, James received the submission of Alexander, Lord of the Isles at the High Altar at Holyrood Abbey.

His strong hand, though effective, upset many people. During the later years of his reign, his claim to the throne was even brought into question. James I's grandfather, Robert II, had married twice and the awkward circumstances of the first marriage, from which James was descended, led to it being disputed. Conflict broke out between the descendants of the first marriage and the unquestionably legitimate descendants of the second marriage over who should be on the Scottish throne.

The situation was made worse by the fact that after 1431 James became increasingly lazy in terms of government.

Matters came to a head on 21 FEB 1437 in Blackfriars Monastery in Perth, Perthshire, Scotland. He was surprised by a group of discontented lords led by Sir Robert Graham and by his own uncle, Walter, Earl of Atholl and brother of Albany, a son of Robert II's second marriage. James was assassinated and and his queen Joan was badly injured.

He had attempted to escape his assailants through a sewer. However, three days previously, he had the other end of the drain blocked up because it was connected to the tennis court outside, and balls were in the habit of getting lost in it. He was cornered and brutally stabbed to death. James was buried nearby in the Carthuisian Monastery, which he had founded.

A wave of executions, of those who were part of the plot, followed, in March 1437. Among those executed were James's uncle, Walter, Earl of Atholl, and his grandson, Robert, Master of Atholl.

Joan BEAUFORT. [PC M3-17-4-24].
Born about 1398 in Westminster, Middlesex, England; daughter of John BEAUFORT, 1st Earl of Somerset [F4522462], and Margaret HOLLAND [F4522463]. Joan met James I, King of Scotland in London while he was imprisoned at the English Court. They were married on 2 February 1424 in (London-S2)(Holyrood Abbey, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland-S1). James was murdered in 1437. Joan married James Stewart, the Black Knight of Lorn, in 1439. They had one child: John Stewart (John of Balveny), who would later become the first Earl of Atholl. She died on 15 July 1445 in Dunbar Castle, Dunbar, East Lothian, Scotland; and was buried beside James I at the Carthusian Monastery in Perth, Perthshire, Scotland.

CHILDREN of JAMES I and Joan Beaufort: