Born on 19 June 1566 at Edinburgh, James I of England ascended to the throne in 1603 and was the first monarch of the Stuart dynasty. Although he married Anne of Denmark, with whom he had three children – Henry Frederick, Elizabeth, and Charles – he had homosexual relationships with two men: Robert Carr and George Villiers.
The alleged homosexuality of James I of England: the relationship with Robert Carr
Despite the lack of definitive evidence regarding the alleged homosexuality of King James I of England, there are several evidence to suggest that he had emotional relationships with some of his “favorites” at court. Among these, the most discussed relationship is that with Robert Carr, a young Scottish courtier.
Their relationship has been the subject of debate among historians, who have attributed various interpretations to it. Considering that the modern concept of homosexuality did not exist in seventeenth century in England and relationships between people of the same sex were difficult to classify, many historians have recognized that the relationship between James I and Carr was of an intimate nature.
As evidence, the found correspondence between James I and Carr clearly indicates that there was an emotional and loving bond between them. Furthermore, it is believed that thanks to the intimate relationship between the two, Carr got favoritism from the King, who in 1607 appointed him Viscount of Rochester and later Earl of Somerset, thus granting him very important positions.
However, their relationship ended after Carr became embroiled in scandals. The most notorious of these was the “Overbury Case” in 1613, in which Carr and his wife Frances Howard were suspected of murder. This case had such a negative impact on Carr’s image that it led to his fall from grace and the end of his relationship with James I.
Other historians find it difficult, despite the sometimes-public displays of affection between the two, to define the exact type of relationship considering the complexity of the social and cultural dynamics of the time.
James I of England and George Villers
Also, the relationship between King James I of England and George Villiers was the subject of debate among historians, as some testimonies of the bond between the two remain ambiguous while others clearly indicate a very intimate relationship.
From 1614, the most handsome courtier in all of England, George Villiers, entered the circle of favorites of King James I of England. In addition to have received various titles and honors, in 1623 Villiers was appointed Duke of Buckingham, marking with his appointment an important role in the king’s political decisions, which sparked criticism and comments.
In the same manner as with Carr, the exchange of letters between James I and Villiers reveals the affectionate homosexual bond between the two. Furthermore, it is believed that the alleged homosexual relationship between the King and the Duke continued until the death of James I of England. Then, Villiers became a key advisor to his successor, his son Charles I.