How many folks know that King James (who commissioned the King James Bible and to whom it was dedicated) loved men and had sex with them? At the age of thirteen James fell madly in love with his male cousin Esmé Stuart whom he made Duke of Lennox. James deferred to Esmé to the consternation of his ministers. In 1582 James was kidnapped and forced to issue a proclamation against his lover and send him back to France.
Later, James fell in love with a poor young Scotsman named Robert Carr. “The king leans on his [Carrʼs] arm, pinches his cheeks, smooths his ruffled garment, and when he looks upon Carr, directs his speech to others.”
—Thomas Howard, Earl of Suffolk, in a letter, 1611
Carr eventually ended the relationship after which the king expressed his dissatisfaction in a letter to Carr, “I leave out of this reckoning your long creeping back and withdrawing yourself from lying in my chamber, notwithstanding my many hundred times earnest soliciting you to the contrary...Remember that (since I am king) all your being, except your breathing and soul, is from me.” (See The Letters of King James I & VI, ed., G. P. V. Akrigg, Univ. of Calif. Press, 1984. Also see Royal Family, Royal Lovers: King James of England and Scotland, David M. Bergeron, Univ. of Missouri Press, 1991)
King Jamesʼ favorite male lovers were the Earl of Somerset and the Duke of Buckingham.
—Ben Edward Akerly, The X-rated Bible
Jamesʼs sexual orientation was so widely known that Sir Walter Raleigh joked about it in public saying “King Elizabeth” had been succeeded by “Queen James.”
—Catherine D. Bowen, The Lion and the Throne
“James, aged thirteen, was completely starstruck by these new arrivals. After being brought up by dour Presbyterians and a rough-hewn bunch of nobles, he suddenly appeared from the schoolroom to find a group of charming, well-traveled, well-educated and attractive men. He was fascinated by them, welcoming his release from the Reformist nobilityʼs stranglehold. The attraction of these personable and worldly courtiers was a breath of fresh air, and they quickly played on his sensibilities. These new ‘favorites’ were the key to free him from the shackles of the Kirk and his schoolroom. Within a month of Esméʼs arrival, James had agreed to leave Stirling and to take his place at Holyrood, where Esmé reorganized the Court and his household on the French model.
There was more to Jamesʼs relationship with these favorites than kicking against his religious upbringing. Their charisma provided a sensual stimulus for him that he was not to enjoy with his interfering and insensitive wife, Anne of Denmark, when they married in 1589. They provided the glamour that he lacked, and there can be little doubt that his homosexuality stemmed from his early attraction to the androgynous Esmé. Well experienced in Court circles in France, Esmé took advantage of the sexual overtures of this vulnerable adolescent, twenty-four years his junior. James would openly clasp him in his arms to kiss him, shocking the Reformist clergy, who saw that Esmé ‘went about to draw the King to carnal lust’, while James showered him with offices and presents. By March 1580, the English ambassador, Bowes, was telling Elizabeth that Esmé was ‘called to be one of the secret counsel, and carryeth the sway in court’. By September ‘few or none will openly withstand anything that he would have forward’.
King James 1 was a known homosexual who murdered his young lovers and victimized countless heretics and women. His cruelty was justified by his “divine right” of kings.
—Otto J. Scott, James the First
Although the title page of The King James Bible boasted that it was “newly translated out of the original tongues,” the work was actually a revision of The Bishopʼs Bible of 1568, which was a revision of The Great Bible of 1539, which was itself based on three previous English translations from the early 1500s. So, the men who produced the King James Bible not only inherited some of the errors made by previous English translators, but invented some of their own.
Desiderius Erasmus was a “Christian humanist” who collected Greek (and Latin) New Testament manuscripts and compared and edited them, verse by verse, selecting what he considered to be the best variant passages, until he had compiled what came to be known as the “textus receptus.” Early English translations of the Bible, like those mentioned above, were based on his “textus receptus.” Erasmus was also a monk whom some historians believe engaged in homosexual activities.
But without both King James and Erasmus, the most widely touted Bible in Christian history would never have been produced, the KJV (or shall we say, Gay-JV?) Bible.
A physical weakling, as an adolescent James had shown himself to be a coward, who liked only to hunt, to read (which he did, prodigiously) and to talk. To protect himself he wore thick quilted doublets, so padded that they provided a kind of armor against any assassin who might attack him with a knife. When he revealed a sexual preference for men, falling in love with his cousin Esmé Stewart and elevating him to a position of authority on the royal council, some of his nobles kidnapped James and held him captive, banishing Stewart and controlling Jamesʼs every move. After nearly a year James escaped, but continued to resent his jailers; after he began to rule on his own behalf, at seventeen, he made it a priority to bring the turbulent Scots nobles under control.
As he aged James indulged his preference for handsome men, living apart from his wife. His doting fondness was part paternal, part erotic; he called his favorite George Villiers “sweet child and wife” and referred to himself as “your dear dad and husband.” But to his courtiers, the sight of the aging, paunchy, balding monarch, who according to one court observer had a tendency to drool, leaning on his paramours was utterly repellant.
The first of the kingʼs minions was Robert Carr, Groom of the Bedchamber, who the king elevated to earl of Somerset and appointed Lord Chamberlain. After six years of favors and royal gifts Carr was brought low, accused of murder and sent away from court. The second and greatest royal favorite, the extraordinarily handsome George Villiers, rose from cupbearer to Gentleman of the Bedchamber and ultimately to Earl of Buckingham.
“I love the Earl of Buckingham more than anyone else,” James announced to his councilors, “and more than you who are here assembled.” He compared his love for the earl to Jesusʼs affection for the “beloved disciple” John. “Jesus Christ did the same,” the king said, “and therefore I cannot be blamed. Christ had his John, and I have my George.”
With such pronouncements King James seemed to reach a new level of outrage, especially when he compounded his offense, in the view of many, by heaping Buckingham with costly jewels, lands, and lucrative offices.
—Royal Panoply, Brief Lives Of The English Monarchs
Carrolly Erickson, History Book Club