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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

The hunt for James I

22nd February 2017

This past week has marked the 580th anniversary of the death of King James I who is noteworthy in a number of respects, including the Scots language. James became king in 1406 when his father Robert III died, but had been captured and taken to the English court only weeks before while travelling to France. His uncle, Robert duke of Albany, and his son Murdoch, ruled Scotland as regents in James’s name until he returned to Scotland in 1424. But his policies, and acquisition of lands and wealth, led to a conspiracy among some of the nobles headed by James’s uncle the earl of Atholl. On 21 February 1437 James was murdered by them at the Charterhouse priory in Perth.

In the aftermath of the Reformation (1560) the Charterhouse buildings were destroyed but now a team of specialists from the University of Stirling, University of the Highlands and Islands, and Glasgow School of Art, are set to hunt for the location of King James’s tomb, and that of his wife, who were buried at the Charterhouse. Using ground-penetrating radar they will try to locate structures under the streets of modern day Perth.

King James I is also noteworthy for insisting that the acts of his parliament be recorded and sent around the kingdom written in the vernacular (meaning non-Latin) language so that no one could pretend ignorance of his laws. As a result of this acts of parliament began to be regularly recorded in the Older Scots language. Since the 1380’s Scots had come into increasing use for recording contracts, council minutes, laws, poetry, histories, and diplomatic agreements, so James set the seal on the rise of Scots as an official language.

To read more about the reign of King James I please download the Scots language account of his rule in the PDF below which forms part of the SLC’s Kingly Hooses series.