We have looked at all of the people in line to the succession to the throne of England. The fact that James VI, King of Scots was eventually chosen as successor to Elizabeth I demonstrates two ideas. First and foremost is the fact that male prefered primogeniture had become the tradition if not the law by this time. The second point is that the monarch still had power to name their successor. Although by the late 1590s it had become treasonous to talk about the succession to the queen herself there were those that knew the issue had to be raised eventually.
The queen’s chief minister was Sir Robert Cecil who at one point supported the succession of Lady Arabella Stuart to the throne. He eventually shifted his alliance to the King of Scots and in 1601 began secret correspondences with James promising him the throne of England. The action toward supporting James on the English throne was not solely originating in England. James actively pursued his rights to the English throne and in February of 1601 The Earl of Mar and Edward Bruce, Commendator of Kinloss, went to London as ambassadors for the purpose of having james recognized as heir to Queen Elizabeth. Because of the possibility of treason these efforts were done in secret. The Scottish embassadors even went from town to town trying to gain support for James and his claim to the throne.
Despite the secret correspondences there is evidence that Elizabeth I did indeed expect that James would succeed her. Historians remark that her own regular correspondence with James became more friendly at this time. She also increased the irregular subsidy which Elizabeth paid to James, either in cash or jewellery was increased. In March of 1603 as the end of the life of Elizabeth was certain the subject was raised on her death-bed. Historians cannot substantiate if any of this is true. She was unable to speak but was able to gesture. A list of names was read to her containing those in line for the succession and when James VI of Scotland was mentioned she made a circular motion in the air taken to mean she agreed with that choice.
When Elizabeth died in the early morning hours of March 24, 1603 Sir Robert Cecil proclaimed James VI of Scotland as King of England. On April 5 James set forth for London promising to return to Edinburgh (he never did). He arrived in London on May 7 and was crowned at Westminster Abby on July 25. The succession from the Tudor Dynasty to the Stuart Dynasty went smoothly.
James wanted to unite the two crowns into the Kingdom of Great Britain. However there were many issues blocking this from happening. Despite, at times, calling himself the king of Great Britain, England and Scotland would remain separate countries that shared the same monarch as Head of State. It would not be until 1701 that the two crowns were truly united.
Next in this series will be the succession of Charles I.