James I.king of Scotland, and third monarch of the Stuart dynasty, born in Dunfermline about 1394, assassinated in Perth, Feb. 21, 1437. He was the son of Robert III. and An-nabella Drummond. He became heir to the crown on the murder of his brother, the duke of Rothsay. His education was intrusted to the bishop of St. Andrews; but in 1405 it was determined to send him to France, and on his way there the ship was taken by an English man-of-war. He was detained in captivity 19 years, chiefly in Windsor castle, but both Henry IV. and Henry V. treated him well. The former attended liberally to his education, and the latter took him with him in his French campaigns. In a political sense James's education was the consequence of circumstances, and he could not have passed his youth in a better school for a monarch; but he was detained too long from his kingdom to allow of his abilities and knowledge proving greatly useful to his subjects. He showed poetical powers of no mean order, and his writings are yet admired. "The King's Quhair," or "Book," was written while he resided in England; after his return to Scotland he was too actively engaged to devote much time to poetry.
Robert III. dying in 1406, his captive son was proclaimed king, and his uncle the duke of Albany was made regent, holding the office until his death in 1419. But for Albany's intrigues James would have been sooner restored to his throne. Albany was succeeded by his son Murdoch, who might have transferred the crown to his branch of the Stuart line had he possessed his father's talents and unscrupulous-ness. The Scotch were then the allies of the French, and Henry V. took James to France in 1417, agreeing to restore him to freedom if he should prevail upon those of his subjects who were in France to abstain from hostilities; but the Scotch refused to obey a king who was in durance. On the death of Henry V. the new government of England resolved to give James his freedom, on condition of his paying £40,000 as the cost of his maintenance in England. He married Joanna Beaufort, granddaughter of John of Gaunt through Catharine Swynford, and niece of Cardinal Beaufort, who, seen from his window during his captivity, had inspired the "Quhair." He reached Edinburgh in the spring of 1424, and immediately commenced that vigorous administration which had become necessary through the bad government of his predecessors. Many important legislative acts were adopted.
He persecuted the Lollards, and proceeded with energy against the nobles, whose lawless conduct demanded punishment. Albany and two of his sons, and the earl of Lennox, were executed; and soon after other executions took place, of the most cruel nature, the victims being merely retainers, who believed they were bound to obey their feudal superiors. The family of Albany was popular, and their deaths made the king unpopular. James I. revived the connection of his kingdom with France, encouraged the clergy as a counterpoise to the nobility, legislated in favor of trade, labored for the restoration of order, provided for the administration of justice, and maintained the dignity of Scotland against the designs of England. An expedition against the islemen proved successful, and 300 robbers were executed. He stripped the earl of March of his earldom and property, which alarmed the nobility. A conspiracy was formed against him, the head of "which was Sir Robert Graham, who was actuated partly by personal and partly by political motives. Not being well supported by his associates, he was baffled, imprisoned, and banished, and his estates were seized. In the highlands, whither he had fled, he formed his plans.
His only associates of eminence were the earl of Athol and his grandson, Sir Robert Stewart, the latter being the king's chamberlain. Through the assistance of Stewart, Graham obtained access to the king's apartments, in the monastery of the Dominicans at Perth, and slew him with his own hands, but not until James had made a heroic resistance, though at last he begged his life of the assassin.