#1 He was the first king of both Scotland and England
As a direct relative of Elizabeth I, known popularly as the Virgin Queen for she took no husband nor gave birth to any children, James had ambitions to claim the English throne upon her death. And, with no competition to rival his claim, claim it he did, bringing into effect the Union of the Crowns on the 24th of March, 1603. This was the beginning of Scotland and England’s long, shared, and troubled history under an English monarchy.
#2 He was England’s last absolutist
Absolutism is the practice of believing in the absolute dictatorship of the monarchy, and its privilege and power to do as it wishes. While James’ reign survived this brutal policy with some issue, the reign of his successor, the infamous Charles I did not. Indeed, James’ own son was the king responsible for setting off the English Civil War, which abolished the English monarchy for ten years and abolished absolutism permanently.
#3 Troubled childhood
During his childhood, as was the theme with many royals, James was surrounded by assassination plots and intrigue. When he was only eight months old, his father was killed by an explosion. His mother was exiled when he was only a year old, and she never saw her child again. This caused him to develop deep paranoia and suspicion of those around him.
#4 His faith
James was a staunch protestant ruler. In fact, it is what his rule is most famously associated with, especially in the United Kingdom. James’ persecution of the Catholics was moderate at first, but after the failed gunpowder plot by Guy Fawkes and his associates, the crown clamped down on the Catholic faith throughout the country, leading to the torture and execution of many practicing Catholics.
#5 Witch hunts
James was a proponent of the witch hunts in England. During his younger years, he made a visit to Denmark with his wife where he met with clerics who warned him of the growing danger of witches. Upon their return voyage, their ship was assailed by storms which James further believed to be the act of witches. The King changed the growing scepticism regarding the existence of witches since the reign of his predecessor Elizabeth.
#6 His burial
Unlike most British monarchs, who were buried in Westminster Abbey, James was buried in his family home of Theobalds House, located in the English country of Herefordshire. This was a much more popular royal residence during his reign, however, since he came to the throne, it has since declined.