- A James I signed and inscribed letter to Louis XIII of France
James VI and I (1566 – 1625) was King of Scotland as James VI from 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from 1603 until his death in 1625.
He was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots and the great-great grandson of Henry VII who ruled all three countries for 22 years, during a period known as the Jacobean Era.
A long, involved personal letter sent by James I to Louis XIII of France in June 1624.
In French, signed with a handwritten inscription by James I.
The single page manuscript measures approx. 30cm by 37cm.
In good condition, with original folds, creasing and occasional browning expected of a document with such an extensive history.
The full text of the letter is crisp, clear and fully legible.
The letter concerns the Scottish Guards (Gardes Écossaises), the personal bodyguards of the French monarchy, established in 1418 during the Hundred Years' War.
The letter, translated from French to English, reads in part: “The sudden death of our late cousin the Duke of Richmond and Lennox which prevented him from enjoying the favour which our recommendation had gained for him of the Company of Gendarmes which you wished formerly to confer upon our dear son created Duke of York, has been the cause that we did not sooner give affectionate thanks which we owe you.
“However having lately learned through your ambassador that you wished to transfer this honour and favour to the Earl of Gordon his nephew and Lieutenant-designate, we thought that... you wished to be obliging out of affection for us.
“But having earlier resolved, in accordance with the forms observed, and in accordance with those with which we had recommended the late Duke of Richmond as Chief, and the Earl of Gordon as his Lieutenant we would now recommend to you our cousin the Duke of Lennox, his brother to succeed him in this position, as succeeding as head of the house to which this honour has always been particularly given and the command of the said Company for which we deem that the person should be no less loyal towards you than his brother, in view of the devotion he has always shown to our service...
“We beg you... to agree... the command of the said Company should be given to him, keeping the Earl of Gordon as his lieutenant...
“This we are particularly obliged to receive from you, as a token of the affection of which you have towards the maintenance of his ancient and close friendship which has always existed between our houses and a memorial also to the great services rendered by our Scottish nation to your crown...
“We will reciprocate your sincere affection, as our ambassadors extraordinary, the Count of Carlise and the Baron of Kensington, to whom we have the task of explaining to you in greater detail what is our will and that of the Prince our very dear son on the present subject, will tell you...
“Sent from the Palace at Greenwich on the 15th of June 1624.”
James adds a personal inscription below in his own handwriting:
“Your very affectionate brother, cousin and ancient ally” and signs with the French version of his name “Jaques R”.
The letter is believed to have been hand-delivered to Louis XIII by English ambassadors including James I's son Prince Charles, who was crowned King Charles I less than a year after it was sent.
This is a remarkably rare personal letter of diplomatic importance between two of the great Kings of Europe.
A stunning piece of Royal history, with a scarcely seen example of James I's autograph signed in the French version.
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