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James I: The Fool as King de Otto J Scott
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James I: The Fool as King (edició 1976)

de Otto J Scott (Autor)

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471445,864 (4.5)Cap
Títol:James I: The Fool as King
Autors:Otto J Scott (Autor)
Informació:Mason/Charter (1976), 472 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca

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James I: The Fool as King de Otto J. Scott

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By William Potter

Otto Scott is not an ordinary historian. He is rough-hewn like a character from a Louis L’Amour western, though the cowboys of the L’Amour novels were not born in the Hell’s Kitchen section of New York City. I once naively asked Mr. Scott about his collegiate alma mater. He laughed and said he matriculated at the school of hard knocks.

Otto Scott is an autodidact, a self-taught independent scholar who has written ten substantive books and hundreds of articles. Mr. Scott is well known for following the evidence, writing with (sometimes disturbing) candor, and caring not a whit for the prevailing historical fashions.

James I: The Fool as King is a volume in what he chose to call "The Sacred Fool Quartet," an Otto Scott title if there ever was one. The other sacred fools of history whose lives attracted his critical attention were Robespierre (The Voice of Virtue) and John Brown (The Secret Six: John Brown and the Abolitionist Movement). The irascible octogenarian was never able to complete the story of the tenor of the quartet — the final sacred fool, Woodrow Wilson. The man of progressive visions has unfortunately escaped the historical autopsy by Mr. Scott, but James Stuart did not.

People who know anything of James I, most often just associate the king with the commissioning of the Authorized Version of the Bible. Otto Scott, however, reveals James Stuart as a monarch of singular moral depravity, surrounded by men who vied for his sexual favors, schemed with him against the Reformed Protestant Church, and wrote pseudo-intellectual arguments against his detractors. This biography shows how a young prince, tutored by Reformation men who loved God, liberty, and Scotland, betrayed his teachers, pursued his lusts with unbridled greed, and sowed the seeds which eventually bore fruit in the Puritan diaspora and the English Civil War.

Otto Scott never hides his presuppositions and always defines his terms: “The figure of the Fool is widely misunderstood. He is neither a jester nor a clown nor an idiot. He is, instead, the dark side of genius. For if a genius has the ability to see and make connections beyond the normal range of vision, the fool is one who can see — and disconnect. James the First was such a fool. He was an extraordinary one not only because he was learned and intelligent, but also because he was a king."

As son of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, and Lord Darnly, James would inherit the English crown if Elizabeth died without an heir. His family legacy would include his mother’s alleged murder of his father, her flight to England, and her eventual execution for treason. The great reformer John Knox had placed young James under the tutelage of George Buchanan who taught the young monarch the strict Calvinism of the Scottish Kirk with the hope that he would lead the English-speaking peoples in a continuing and thorough reformation away from the Roman Catholic Church.

When he took the throne as James the First of England, he would not fulfill the hopes of the reformers. He “played the theologians against each other" and brought to a halt in England to any further changes by the Puritan party. “The Presbyterian Church of Scotland had lost its independence and was under the King; the Church of England was Arminian and not Calvinist, and its Bishops and High Commission were authorized to root out dissenters; his heir married a Catholic Princess of France and loyally kept to James’s example."

This is the story of how a “shambling, drunken, homosexual King" fooled his contemporaries (and modern historians!), neutralized his opponents, and discarded most of the teaching his learned tutors inculcated in his youth. Two lessons from the life of James I stand out in this extraordinary history.

Although he received one of the best educations available on the planet, the clever and witty young prince responded favorably to worldly attractions, especially the admiration and flattery of sycophants and seducers. Although his depraved and distant parents offered little in the way of affection or even basic human contact, his learned tutor compelled him to learn biblical truth. But James lacked what the Puritans called “heart religion;" despite the commitment to God he professed, it was nothing but hollow cant. If a young person’s heart is not truly changed, genius and wit will never steel him against the wiles of the devil and the allures of the world.

Also, God uses the folly of men to fulfill his purposes. Despite the evil behavior of a King such as James, history moved inexorably in the direction God intended. From the creation of the Authorized Version of Holy Scripture to the founding of the colonies in America, the foibles and pretensions of the “sacred fool�? brought about great good and unintended consequences. The training of his “doltish" and “stupid" heir to demand the divine right of kings eventually led to the history-shaping English Civil War and the important events which followed.

Otto Scott’s conclusions are a cautionary tale to men who would follow in principle the delusions of unrestrained political power and that multi-generational unfaithfulness also has consequences:

No fool was ever so fertile in the invention
of fallacies or left behind so many enduring
errors to plague the human race. His theory
that peace can be purchased by cowardice
helped move Europe into the Thirty Years War
in his own day — and many more since.

Hailed as a scholar, he sought to kill the
thoughts of other men. Yet as he died in his
filthy bed, the words of Buchanan were
coursing through England’s political
underground, and the theories of Knox were
creating a new church.

James inherited a realm proud in the world,
filled with riches, clear in purpose, and
strong in its sense of destiny. He left it
racked with dissension, economically gutted,
sown with the seeds of revolution, sinking
into incoherent wars.

None of his descendants escaped the results of
his follies. ( )
  kfiech | May 7, 2006 |
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