c.1648: The British king ever fiddling about his crotch

The Court and Character of King James I was probably written in the 1640s and appeared in print toward the end of that decade. Though purporting to be an objective history of James’ reign, it is little more than an instrument of political assassination, attacking the king’s appearance, health, masculinity and judgement. It implies homosexual tendencies, claiming that the former king liked to surround himself “with young faces and smooth chins”. It suggests that James was physically feeble, if not deformed. It also says of his physical appearance and mannerisms:

“His tongue too large for his mouth, which ever made him speak full in the mouth and made him drink very uncomely, as if eating his drink… His skin was as soft as taffeta sarsnet, which felt so because he never washed his hands… His legs were very weak, having had (as was though) some foul play in his youth, or rather because he was born, that he was not able to stand at seven years of age, that weakness made him ever leaning on other men’s shoulders… His walk was ever circular [and] his fingers, in that walk, fiddling about his codpiece.”

Authorship of The Court and Character of King James I has been attributed to Sir Anthony Weldon, an English courtier who disliked the Scottish generally and the Stuart dynasty specifically. Several modern historians are sceptical of Weldon’s involvement, however.

Source: Anthony Weldon (attrib.), The Court and Character of King James I, c.1684. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2016. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.