Archive Civic Polity Nota Bene Simon Kennedy Uncategorized

King James I on Virtue

King James I on the need for a ruler to have a virtuous life (archaic spelling updated):

But it is not enough to be a good King, by the scepter of good Laws well execute to govern, and by force of arms to protect his people; if he join not therewith his virtuous life in his own person, and in the person of his Court and company; by good example alluring his Subjects to the love of virtue, and hatred of vice. And therefore … since all people are naturally inclined to follow their Prince’s example (as I showed you before) let it not be said, that you commanded others to keep the contrary course to that, which in your own person you practise, making so your words and deeds to fight together: but by the contrary, let your own life be a law-book and mirror to your people; that therein they may read and practise of their own Laws; and therein they may see, by your image, what life they should lead.1

  1. King James I, ‘Basilicon Doron’, in Johann P. Sommerville, King James VI and I: Political Writings, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006) pp.33-34

By Simon Kennedy

Simon is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Queensland. He resides in Geelong, Victoria with his wife and four children.