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King in captivity

James, now the uncrowned King of Scots, began what proved to be his 18-year period as a hostage while at the same time Robert, Duke of Albany transitioned from his position of lieutenant to that of Governor of Scotland, wielding immense power and was king in all but name. The Duke of Albany confiscated James’s lands and placed them under his own control. This deprived the young king of any income. The Duke of Albany also confiscated the regalia (the Honors of Scotland).

King James I of Scotland

James was held in Windsor Castle and although technically a prisoner Henry IV treated the young James well, provided him with a good education. With James now a regular member of the Court of Henry IV he was ideally placed to observe Henry’s methods of kingship. Despite being a prisoner of the English king, and with his uncle ruling Scotland, James was kept abreast of the events and news within Scotland as he received personal visits from his nobles coupled with letters to individuals to maintain his visibility in his kingdom.

Henry IV died on March 30, 1413 and his son, Henry V, became King of England and Lord of Ireland and the policies and treatment of James changed immediately. The King of Scots became not just a prisoner in theory, he became a prisoner in reality as James’s comparative freedom was halted and Henry V moved him to the Tower of London along with the other Scottish prisoners.

Ironically, one of these prisoners being held at the same time was James’s cousin, Murdoch Stewart, the Duke of Albany’s son, who had been captured in 1402 at the Battle of Homildon Hill. Initially the cousins were held apart but from 1413 until Murdoch’s release in 1415 they were together in the Tower and at Windsor Castle.

James’s value to Henry became apparent in 1420 when he accompanied the English king to France where his presence was used against the Scots fighting on the Dauphinist side. Following the English success at the siege of Melun, a town southeast of Paris, the contingent of Scots were hanged for treason against their kings. These events changed James’s standing at Henry V’s court and his condition improved greatly; he ceased to be regarded as a hostage and more of a guest.

James attended Catherine of Valois’s coronation on February 23, 1421 and was honoured by being seated immediately on the queen’s left at the coronation banquet. Catherine of Valois was the wife of Henry V and the daughter of King Charles VI of France and his wife Isabeau of Bavaria. In March, Henry began a circuit of the important towns in England as a show of strength and it was during this tour that James was knighted on Saint George’s day. By July, the two kings were back campaigning in France where James, evidently approving of Henry’s methods of kingship, seemed content in supporting the English king’s claim for the French crown.

Henry appointed the Duke of Bedford and James as the joint commanders of the siege of Dreux on July 18, 1421 and on August 20, they received the surrender of the garrison. Henry died of dysentery on August 31, 1422 and in September James was part of the escort taking the English king’s body back to London. Henry V was succeeded on the English throne by his 9 month old son who became Henry VI.

Next: The King’s Marriage.