Steven VeerapenSep 7, 2023
The Wisest Fool
The Life of James VI and I
James VI and I has long endured a mixed reputation. To many, he is the homosexual King, the inveterate witch-roaster, the smelly sovereign who never washed, the colourless man behind the authorised Bible bearing his name, the drooling fool whose speech could barely be understood. For too long, he has paled in comparison to his more celebrated – and analysed – Tudor and Stuart forebears. But who was he really? To what extent have myth, anecdote, and rumour obscured him?
In this new biography The Wisest Fool: The Lavish Life of James VI and I (Birlinn, 2023) by Dr. Steven Veerapen, James’s story is laid bare, and a welter of scurrilous, outrageous assumptions penned by his political opponents put to rest. What emerges is a portrait of James VI and I as his contemporaries knew him: a gregarious, idealistic man obsessed with the idea of family, whose personal and political goals could never match up to reality. With reference to letters, libels and state papers, it casts fresh light on the personal, domestic, international, and sexual politics of this misunderstood sovereign.
This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.