Talk:Basilikon Doron

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If, in the circumstances you would like an alternative text, may I offer: --ClemMcGann 13:51, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC) ---

‘Basilikon Doron’ means ‘royal gift’. King James VI of Scotland, later King James I of England, allegedly wrote the ‘Basilikon Doron’ in 1599. It was a private and confidential letter to his eldest son, Henry, born 1594. After Henry’s death in 1612, James gave it to his second son, Charles, born 1600, later King Charles I.

The Basilikon Doron repeats the argument for the divine right of kings, as set out in ‘The True Law of Free Monarchies’, which was written by James. However it proceeds to warn against Papists. It says to omit the Apocrypha from the Bible. It derides Puritans.

The Basilikon Doron may well be a forgery. It was published after the execution, or martyrdom, of King Charles I, son of King James. It is also possible that there was a real, probably handwritten, Basilikon Doron, but it was later amended and printed. It was claimed that Robert Waldegrave, who was bound to secrecy, printed it at the King’s behest. Richard Royston, and later William Dugard, printed further copies after the execution. It has been claimed that Bishop John Gauden of Exter forged the Basilikon Doron.

We do not know how Richard Royston came by the book. John Bradshaw, who had presided over the trial of Charles I, asked Royston how he “could think so bad a man could write so good a book”. Royston remained silent. He was released after fifteen days.

The Basilikon Doron criticises both Papists and Puritans. This is in keeping with the King’s philosophy of following a ‘middle path’. This is reflected in the preface to the 1611 KJAV Bible. Yet, the King’s purpose was to reconcile, what he saw as, the extremes to the centre; to the Anglican Church, rather than repel them. The anti-Catholic words would be expected after the gunpowder plot, but not before. They seem at odds with his efforts to marry his sons to the Catholic Infanta of Spain and to the Catholic Princess Henrietta Maria of France, whom Charles did marry in 1625.

The rejection of the Apocrypha seems strange, since King James was later to finance six scholars to spend three years translating the Apocrypha for the 1611 King James Authorised Version of the Bible. The preface to the 1611 KJAV says that the Apocrypha is scripture. It says that the Apostles used the translation of the seventy and commended it to the Church. When King Charles was awaiting execution, he was asked to authorise changes to the KJAV, to drop ecclesiastical references such as ‘bishop’ and to drop the Apocrypha. There were other demands. He refused. He was martyred.

The Basilikon Doron may be a forgery. Who would have a confidential to his son, printed? Whether it is or not, it did play its part in influencing public opinion in favour of the monarchy. This led to the restoration in 1660. King Charles II, ‘the merry monarch’, grandson of King James I and son of the martyred King Charles I, ascended to the throne.

the text in the discussion seems fine to me. In the previous post, I meant to clean up the article and found that it matched word for word with a different copyrighted encyclopedia. Malo 19:16, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Perhaps we should wait for ther original poster to respond? --ClemMcGann 23:50, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Eikon Basilike and Basilikon Doron[edit]

Isn't there some confusion in this article between the Basilikon Doron and the Eikon Basilike? Are they not two separate documents, one purporting to be by James I and the other by Charles I? Is it alleged that John Gauden faked both? And surely Milton's riposte was to the Eikon? Man vyi 07:50, 17 Apr 2005 (UTC)

ouch! - - milton definitely, gauden probably; article ammended; i'll revisit later --ClemMcGann 11:58, 17 Apr 2005 (UTC)

What is the evidence that Basilikon Doron was a forgery? It was printed in Edinburgh in 1599, and in London in 1603--the article incorrectly implies that it was not printed until the Restoration. This article needs serious revision.

Without serious evidence, it seems highly unlikely that the King's Printer in Edinburgh (Waldegrave) would print a forgery and attribute it to the king, who clearly would see copies of the book.

The article does require revision. It should read: (as you point out) “printed” in 1599, rather than “published”, as it was not circulated until after the execution (not restoration). If you want to set out alternate arguments, fell free to do so.--ClemMcGann 12:45, 7 August 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]


What are you talking about? There is no evidence for your claims. Basilikon Doron was printed in 3 London editions in 1603, because James wanted to propagate his views among his new subjects. As STC writes, "Apparently the demand for this book was such that [John] Norton [the London publisher] had it pr[inted] by several printers, including those who appear on the various tpp of the Norton eds. and the Eliot's Court Press." That is, the demand *among London book-buyers* was high. I'm not sure what you mean when you say it was not circulated/published until after Charles's execution.

I think perhaps you are confusing King James VI and I's Basilikon Doron with the posthumous Caroline hagiography, Eikon Basilika, or Milton's Eikonoklastes. Could this be the confusion?

There is no scholarly evidence whatsoever that James's Basilikon Doron was a forgery. It was printed by the King's Printer in Edinburgh in 1599, reprinted there in 1603, and reprinted in London multiple times in 1603. James wanted people to read it and he wanted people to know he wrote it.

more problems...[edit]

When this article says, the confusion with Eikon Basilikae becomes clear:

We do not know how Richard Royston came by the book. John Bradshaw, who had presided over the trial of Charles I, asked Royston how he “could think so bad a man could write so good a book”. Royston remained silent. He was released after fifteen days.

This story is about Eikon Basilikae, not Basilikon Doron.

This article needs to be trashed and completely rewritten.

then you try - it what wikipedia is all about--ClemMcGann 20:23, 13 August 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree! If anyone feels up to rewriting this, please feel free! It is very annoying to come across so much nonsense. Any historians around?

Nonsense removed[edit]

I think I've removed the nonsense about it being a forgery. The book was widely published during James's lifetime, so it's hard to see how it could have been forged after 1649. In addition, the claim that it's odd that James would have printed what are supposedly confidential letters to his son is conspiracy theory nonsense that betrays a lack of any understanding of 17th century political writing. Very frequently such writings would take the form of "advice to a prince." This does not, of course, mean that James's actual purpose was "confidential instruction" to his son. This was just a traditional form wherein a king was allowed to express his political views. I'm not really sure the article is any good at the moment, but hopefully all arrant nonsense is gone now. john k 08:01, 24 March 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Could the text of Basilikon Doron be added to Wikisource ? That would be great to consult online the thoughts of a former king. Thank you to the owner/holder of a copy with the diligence of doing it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:59, 12 January 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]