"Royalty, Rumors and Racists"
BY STEPHEN A. COSTON, SR.
AUTHOR OF THE NEW BOOK:
The VI Of Scotland & I Of England
The character assassination of His Majesty King James VI & I is an ongoing evolving process that has matured in this present day to a sort of "open season" of differing opinions variously setting forth different theories and hypotheses on the whys, hows, and ifs of the alleged "homosexuality" of King James VI & I. Part of the reason for so many differing opinions is that many historians and would-be historians have forsaken fact for fictional accounts on the life of King James VI & I. Without facts to restrain the imagination the investigative process turns into a rumor mill and as such is an aberration of the historical process. Often these highly speculative accounts, contemporary or modern, are based not on the actual life and words of King James VI & I but on what these individuals THINK what King James VI & I said and did meant. Honest professional historians are beginning to admit this and this is most welcome; however, King James VI & I still has his ardent critics.
More often than not even when actual facts of King James VI & I are presented they are subjected to interpretive twists designed to give the reader the impression that the words and deeds of King James VI & I support the allegations commonly leveled against him. Case in point, it is a known fact King James VI & I was handicapped from birth with weak limbs and injured himself many times. This caused him to have an unsteady gait. To compensate for this King James VI & I often leaned on his most trusted councilors and friends which also happened to be members of his personal staff, individuals critics freely term "favorites." It is often stated that "James was fond of leaning all over his beautiful young favorites" giving the reader the impression King James VI & I did so not because of a physical handicap but because of sexual attraction to same. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Further, it is also freely alleged that King James VI & I "passionately kissed" his "favorites" in public.
Critics of King James VI & I are fond of inferring from the above that King James VI & I engaged in the "French kissing" of his "favorites." They then use this assumption as yet another "proof" to support their contention that King James VI & I was indeed truly a "homosexual."
What the detractors of King James VI & I utterly fail to realize; however, (to their detriment) is the fact that the accounts responsible for popularizing this characterization were penned by individuals who hated not only King James VI & I as a Scot, but the whole country of Scotland as well. They were some of the most militant racists of the time of the most vicious type. Some of their contemporaries knew this and railed against them and defended King James VI & I and it is quite the mystery why modern critics seem not to know this.
Another point that critics of King James VI & I fail to recognize relative to this issue of kissing is that King James VI & I "slobbered" when he ate his food, consumed his drink, or even when he "kissed" someone's hand or cheek. Are we to infer then that King James VI & I passionately kissed inanimate objects, foods and drinks and bodily extremities? What about the widely accepted practice of a monarch's kiss at court to show the King's favor upon an individual? Besides that what of the British acceptance of public kissing for all kinds of events and circumstances. Are we then to infer that the whole island of Great Britain was a hot bed of homosexuality?
It is also inferred that because some individuals rejoiced to have King James VI & I's "legs soon in their arms" upon their return to court that this is somehow indicative of a reference to a sexual position. However, there exist many woodcuts depicting just this position of many noble and common men in with King James VI & I at court. It was customary to prostrate oneself at the feet of the monarch when allowed so close to His Majesty's person to receive a welcome, greeting or honor. King James VI & I's own son, the future King Charles I, himself was in just this position at the feet of his father when he returned from Spain. It is amazing that such shallow reasoning can be allowed to be pawned off as legitimate historical analysis.
Finally, much is made of King James VI & I articulating in his writing that he "loved" someone of the same gender giving the reader the mistaken belief that "love" stood for a sexual attraction and thus yet another "proof" of the "homosexuality" of King James VI & I. Also, it is alleged that King James VI & I "justified homosexuality many times" in his writings.
The most common offered "proof" of this mistaken assertion is a quotation from King James VI & I's speech to Parliament which is violently ripped from its intended meaning and context. For an in- depth refutation of this form of argument the diligent reader is referred to my book King James VI Of Scotland & I Of England - Unjustly Accused.
The Reverend Barrie Williams sums up the desperation of this reasoning:
"... there must be many besides myself for whom nine short words of the King are sufficient: 'Jesus had His John, and I have my George.' King James was in every estimate a devout protestant, and anyone who can believe that he would cast aspersions on the moral integrity of Our Saviour would have no difficulty in believing that the world is flat."
The sheer etymological ignorance of this type of argument is astounding! In my book King James VI Of Scotland & I Of England - Unjustly Accused I examine the widespread and commonly accepted practice of men and women writing to each other in loving terms and expressing their "love" for one another. Such Jacobean stylistic expressions of this kind were in no way indicative of sexual attraction or homosexuality.
I believe Lucius Annaeus Seneca said it best when he wrote:
"... they refute their case by means of the very passages which lead them to infer it."
Certain revisionist historians would have you believe otherwise and advocate the use this method to prove Biblical characters were likewise "homosexuals" to include Jesus Christ, David and Jonathan. These types of evidences, if you can call them that, are the types of things that critics of King James VI & I use to validate their claims. When they can't force King James VI & I to say what they want they simply make him "mean" what they want. Or, in other words, what they can't find stated they simply infer is there and place between the lines even though it is not "in the lines." However, if King James VI & I did not mean what he wrote then who is anyone to tell us what he actually meant?
As far as "witnesses" go, critics can only cite a handful of contemporaries of King James VI & I and most of these were men fired from office (sour grapes), or were political or religious enemies of the King, or they were otherwise disgruntled courtiers with an ax to grind and none ever were eye witness to any overt sexual acts on the part of King James VI & I.
Not only this but I have not found one yet that ever formally accused King James VI & I of directly being a homosexual and brought his case before any legal or religious body not to mention attempting to obey the precepts of Scripture in making such outlandish claims. For an in- depth examination of the charges commonly leveled at King James VI & I the careful reader is referred to my book mentioned previously.
It is obvious that myriad are the claims leveled at James Charles Stuart's (King James VI & I) moral character or lack thereof. However, out of this great sea of negative opinion the tide is fortunately turning away from the shores of libel and gossip and heading towards the calm home port of objectivity and evidentiary concerns.
Historians like the rest of our society are not immune from the influences of modern faddish trends and regrettably King James VI & I has suffered more than his share of diatribes that are directly due to a falling away from classical objective interpretive methods that were long indicative of the traditional historical method. Recent trends have captivated modern historians and led them to experiment with eisegetical techniques and to put it colloquially "tabloid style journalism." Therefore, much that has been written regarding His Majesty King James VI & I has not been the result of a balanced exegetical method.
Further complicating the situation and making matters worse has been the regrettable over reliance by historians on certain scurrilous sources that were produced in an era when libels of the Stuarts and the Monarchy were at a premium in general and whose opinions were motivated by a distrust and outright hostility to the noble Scots as a nation and King James VI & I in particular. King James VI & I being the first Scot to sit on the English throne and the natural father of the last Stuart King to reign in England before the regicide of The Royal Martyr, King Charles I, King James VI & I was naturally a prime target for abuse.
Making an easy target for his pursuit of peace and his many physical handicaps, King James VI & I was and is ill treated by many who venture to put pen to paper with a view to ruminating on the character of this much misunderstood Monarch. Like all of us in the course of King James VI & I's life he made enemies, and as king he had more than his share. Not only this but King James VI & I had to deal and overcome outright racism against his home of birth, Scotland. It is a sad fact that most of King James VI & I's contemporary critics were either disgruntled courtiers who were removed from office by King James VI & I himself or otherwise suffered loss of political or peerage advancement under King James VI & I or were haters of the whole Scottish nation!
Much indeed has been written on King James VI & I and because of this plethora of information a few researchers when doing analysis on King James VI & I simply refer back to past popular and easily obtainable sources rather than expending time and effort in obtaining rare and difficult to find first hand accounts of either the critical or ameliorative sources. Most indeed who have written about King James VI & I have never actually sat down to read what he actually wrote. This environment has created a prime climate for the kind of slanders and libels King James VI & I has been subjected to.
In my years of research on the life and character of King James VI & I, I have found that there is a great reluctance on the part of some of the more militant and bellicose of modern day critics of King James VI & I who claim to have facts to prove (beyond what they assert in their books) King James VI & I was a homosexual.
They seem unwilling to stand up to investigative criticism of their conclusions. They speak of research but balk at detailing the fruits thereof. They are fond of citing whole volumes of books and articles which they claim validate their assertions but refuse to justify any conclusions or data found therein. Some of the more extreme "Christian" critics of King James VI & I are extremely reticent about applying Biblical injunctions against gossip and rumor to their sources or even allow King James VI & I the protection of Scripture as found in Deut. 19:15 or I Tim. 5:19. Further, some are found to deny King James VI & I even professed to be a Christian! I find this extremely curious that such individuals who claim to be "Christians" would ignore Biblical injunctions on falsely accusing a brother and the evidentiary requirements to sustain charges of the type they advocate.
Thankfully, modern secular critical opinion on King James VI & I is reevaluating the negative assertions of his moral character and moderate critics of King James VI & I are now admitting that these charges are basically OPINION not historical facts! As noted above, only a few extremist and militant and the most ardent of King James VI & I's critics are espousing some of the most vociferous and invectively rancorous libels of King James VI & I.
I have also found in the course of my research a most curious phenomenon, that there is almost a total vacuum of consideration of what King James VI & I actually wrote or what he believed outside of a few brief excerpts of his writings which are more often than not stripped from their context or misinterpreted almost beyond recognition. Great weight almost to the point of complete dependence is attached to the writings of a few disgruntled courtiers, racists and bigots (Sir Anthony Weldon, Francis Osborne and Sir Edward Peyton and a few others).
The writings of Peter Heylyn, Sir William Sanderson, Bishop Godfrey Goodman and Anthony A. Wood and others (not to mention King James VI & I himself) are almost totally forsaken thus creating an unbalanced view of King James VI & I as viewed from contemporary accounts. Similarly, most modern works which discount the critical view of King James VI & I are also almost completely ignored by those who wish to paint King James VI & I as a homosexual.
When authors are unduly influenced by the scandal value of such poor sources they tend to rely on them in extreme and thus forsake detailed historical research and ignore the principles of evidentiary preponderance of evidence and thus sacrifice this for the propensity of our frail human nature in its attraction for dirt and scandal. Contradictory applications of principles and imbalanced research techniques can only result from a defective research method. Unfortunately this type of phenomenon has run rampant and caused many such evaluations to run amuck of the facts concerning King James VI & I.
I have not found any persons yet who libel King James VI & I as being a homosexual who are willing to allow themselves to be judged based on the same lines of evidence and principles upon which they unjustly convict King James VI & I .
All these factors coupled with the cultural and etymological ignorance prevailing in our day and the outright historical bias of some against King James VI & I have produced a situation where King James VI & I's accusers have played free with the actual historical facts and in some cases invented more ingenious eisegetical interpretations than any stretching of the imagination could ever produce. Thus the facts of history have been traded for the inventions of the imagination and regrettably there has of yet been no limitation to the unbridled attacks on the ever blessed memory and reputation of His Majesty, King James VI & I. When such pseudo-history is accepted for the real thing and we refuse to be bound to actual historical facts and opinions are masqueraded in place of reality then no valid conclusions can ever be reached.
In my attempts to request evidence that is commonly purported to exist by the sternest critics of King James VI & I sadly I have found that this evidence is often elusive and at best highly speculative. Instead what I have been offered in place of hard data from King James VI & I's militant and extremist critics is sarcasm, evasion, ridicule, rudeness and outright refusal to provide the requested information.
From King James VI & I's more mild critics they are at least recognizing the fact that their opinions have led to incorrect assumptions that accusations of homosexuality leveled at King James VI & I are factual, which they are not, and are based on speculation and opinion. Many are even willing to entertain the belief that King James VI & I might not have been homosexual at all. This is something that King James VI & I's hard line critics have yet to do and seem dead set against.
The personal slanders and racially motivated innuendoes and epithets were indicative more of the declarant's anti-Scottish bias and resultant dislike of King James VI & I than they were etiologically the result of actual facts. Thus, the scandalous artifacts which have been so carefully exhumed setting forth the "dirt" of the matter are in need not of study but of burial. These slurs are only allegorically and vaguely implying misdeeds on the part of King James VI & I in the most indirect manner and should be highly suspect. Often by their own account imagination played a key role in their assertions and this was based on their own particular interpretation (not provable facts) of the actions of King James VI & I. It is highly coincidental that the promoters of the charges were those who either bore no good will to the Scots or otherwise had a grudge to bear against their King. So, like irreverent grave robbers having no respect for the dead they attempt to steal that which does not belong to them and not content with desecrating the memory and honor of King James VI & I they also trample under foot his blessed memory. This ought not be so!
There seems to be a divergence of opinion amongst King James VI & I's critics. This is indicative of the fact that modern attitudes on King James VI & I are changing and the hard liners are refusing to budge. So far factual rebuttals of the hard line opponents of King James VI & I have had little effect as the pugnacious critics are refusing to yield to the actual evidence and are holding on to the rumors of the past. Such is the decline and decay of our society when we will allow the least of us, those who cannot defend themselves, to be thrown to the wolves if you will and be unjustly accused. In our passive acceptance of this injustice I see the fate of us all in that one day we may all find ourselves the target of false accusers. Where have moral and historical ethics gone!
The sheer bankruptcy of the critical case should be evident to any sincere lover of history. To those who will convict King James VI & I on the scantiest of evidence it must be seen that these individuals will thus embody the demise of all true history. The plethora of moral indictments and claims against King James VI & I's character are not historical facts but rather in all actuality primarily unjust criticisms which are commonly mistaken for facts.
Serious dialogue seems to have been relegated to the museum of ancient history and fallen into disuse. However, the criticisms of King James VI & I actually reveal more about our society's preoccupation with scandal and dirt than they do about the life and character of King James VI & I . We can no longer allow lopsided research to overpower the facts of history.
The best advise and observation on this sad situation ironically comes from King James VI & I himself. As His Majesty King James VI & I noted almost prophetically long ago:
"And principally exercise true wisdom in discerning wisely between true and false reports. First concerning the nature of the person reporter; next, what effect he can have in the well or evil of him whom of he maketh the report; thirdly, the likelihood of the purpose itself, and the last the nature and past life of the delated person ... "
"They quarrel me (not for any evil or vice in me) but because I was a king, which they thought the highest evil, and because they were ashamed to profess this quarrel they were busy to look narrowly in all my actions, and I warrant you a moat in my eye, yes a false report was matter enough for them to work upon."
His Majesty King James VI & I,