James I and the Financial Problem

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James I and the Financial Problem

a. A subsidy is a sum of money given to the monarch by Parliament.

From 1588-1625, the value of a parliamentary subsidy fell by half,

from about £140,000 to £70,000.

In 1605, James would have needed the subsidy because he had a family,

which therefore resulted in a higher personal spending compared to

Elizabeth. The early 17th Century was also a time of inflation, and

James could not really have lived off the Ordinary Revenue, as it was

so low.

Although the Venetian Ambassador who wrote Source A could not

understand James' need for a subsidy, they only referred to the ending

of the war with Spain, and the peace on the Scottish border, they did

not mention any other factors which would have increased James' need

for money such as his family.

b. Source B is very useful as evidence of James' recognition of his

financial problem. In a private letter to Robert Cecil (his Chief

Minister,) 1604, James admits his financial problems and that he is

extravagant with money, "It is true that my heart is greater than my

means," and that he wants to pay off his debts to maintain his "honour

and credit." I think James may have been embarrassed by his debts, and

as it is a private letter James had no need to lie, so the source can

be 'trusted' as the information it contains would have been true.

In a letter to his Privy Council, 1607, James draws an analogy between

himself and his ministers to a patient and doctors, "I am the patient,

and you are the physician,' and admits his debts being removed would

make happy, "this eating cancer of want, which being removed I could

think myself as happy."


... middle of paper ...

...rs did to

try and contain James' debt, or James personal spending such as family


Overall, James and his ministers had no real success in solving the

debts, but did try a number of methods to reduce and contain James'

spending. There were a lot of factors which contributed to the debt,

some were James; fault as he lavishly spent and wasted money but the

sources do not mention the inflation throughout Europe, the slump of

the European economy, the irregular and disrupted tax system, the

dishonest Nobility who continually tried to dodge paying taxes, and

the fall in value of the subsidies.

Therefore, James and his ministers were also not totally unsuccessful

in solving the financial difficulties, as the underlying causes had to

be taken into account, and compensated for as well as the other


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