Source: James I. Basilikon Doron or His Majesties Instrvctions To His Dearest Sonne, Henry the Prince. [Edinburgh , 7 copies only; Edinburgh, London (2 . Basilikon doron* (), a manual on the practice of kingship, was written by James I and VI for his eldest son, Prince Henry [1]. Though less polemical in tone . Basilikon Doron has 11 ratings and 2 reviews. Benjamin said: Fantastic resource, especially for those who want an alternative to Machiavelli’s The Princ.

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James I’s Basilikon Doron Source: Poitical Works of James I. Harvard University Press, Before using any portion of this text in any theme, essay, research paper, thesis, or dissertation, please read the disclaimer.

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And as their subjects ought them to obey, So Kings should feare and serue their God againe If then ye would enjoy a happie raigne, Obserue the Statutes of your heauenly King, And from his Law, make all your Lawes to spring: And so ye shall in Princely vertues shine, Resembling badilikon your mightie King Diuine.

Basilikon Doron

WHOM-to can so rightly appertaine this Booke of instructions to a Prince in all the points of his calling, as well generall, as a Christian towards God; as particular, as a King towards his people?

Whom-to, I say, can it so iustly appertaine, as vnto you my dearest Sonne? Since I the authour thereof, as your naturall Father, must be carefull for your godly and vertuous education, as my eldest Sonne, and the first fruits of Gods blessing towards mee in thy posteritie: I haue therefore for the greater ease to your memory, and that yee may, at the first cast up any part that yee haue to doe with, deuided this Treatise in three parts. The first teacheth you your duetie towards God as a Christian: Receiue and welcome this Booke then, as a faithfull Preceptour and counsellour vnto you: Chargeing you in the presence of GOD, and by the fatherly authoritie I haue ouer you, that yee keepe it euer with you, as carefully, as Alexander did the Iliads of Homer.

Yee will finde it a iust and impartiall counsellour; neither flattering you in any vice, not importuning you at vnmeete times. It will not come vn-called, neither speake vnspeered at: To conclude then, I charge you, as euer yee thinks to deserue my Fatherly blessing, to follow and put in practise, as farre as lyeth in you, the precepts hereafter following. And if yee follow the contrary course, i take the Great GOD to record, that this Booke shall one day bee a witnesse betwixt mee and you; and shall procure to bee ratified in Heauen, the curse that in that case here I giue vnto you.

But hoping, yea, euen promising vnto my selfe, that GOD, who in his great blessing sent you vnto mee; shall in the same blessing, as hee hath giuen mee a Sonne; so make him a good and a godly Sonne; not repenting him of his mercie shewed vnto mee, I end, with my earnest prayer to GOD, to worke effectually unto you, the fruites of that blessing, which here from my eart I bestow vpon you.

Your louing Father I. But as this is generally trew in the actions of all men, so is it more specially trew in the affaires of Kings: Which should make Kings the more carefull not to harbour the secretest thought in their minde, but such as in the owne time they shall not be ashamed openly to auouch; assuring themselues that Time the mother of Veritie, will in the due season bring her owne daughter to perfection. And amongst the rest of my secret actions, which haue vnlooked for of me come to pub-like knowledge, it hath so fared with my BAMAIKON AUPON, directed, to my eldest son; which I wrote for exercise of mine owne ingyne, and instruction of him, who is appointed by God I hope to sit on my Throne after me: And thereforefor the more secret and close keeping of them, I onely permitted semen of them to be printed, the Printer being first sworne for secrecie: To come then particularly to the matter of my Booke, there are two speciall great points, which as I am informed the malicious sort of men haue detracted therein; and some of the honest sort haue seemed a little to mistake: The first calumnie most grieuous indeed is grounded vpon the sharpe and bitter wordes, that therein are vsed in the description of the humors of Puritanes, and rash-headie Preachers, that thinke it their honour to contend with Kings, and perturbe whole kingdomes.

The other point is onely grounded vpon the strait charge I giue my Sonne, not to heare nor suffer any vnreuerent speeches or bookes against any of his parents or progenitors: But if the charitable Reader will aduisedly consider, both the methode and matter of my Treatise, he will easily iudge, what wrong I haue sustained by the carping at both: For my Booke, suppose very small, being diuided in three seuerall parts; the first Part thereof onely treats of a Kings duety towards God in Religion, wherein I haue so clearely made profession of my Religion, calling it the Religion wherein I was brought vp, and euer made profession of, and wishing him euer to continue in the same, as the onely trew forme of Gods worship; that I would haue thought my sincere plainnesse in that first part vpon that subiect, should haue ditted the mouth of the most enuious Momus, that euer hell did hatch, from barking at any other part of my booke vpon that ground, except they would alledge me to be contrarie to my selfe, which in so small a volume would smell of too great weakenesse, and sliprinesse of memory.

And the second part of my booke, teaches my Sonne how to vse his Office, in the administration of Iustice and Politicke Gouernment: The third ondy containing a Kings outward behauiour in indifferent things; what agreeance and onformitie hee ought to keepe betwixt his outward behauiour in these things, and the vertuous qualities of his minde; and how they should seruefor trunsh-men, to interprete the inward disposition of the minde, to the eyes of them that cannot see farther within him, and therefore must onely iudge of him by the outward appearance: So as if there were no more to be looked into, but the very methode and order of the booke, it will sufficiently cleare me of that first and grieuousest imputation, in the point of Religion: And now as to the matter it selfe whereupon this scandall is taken, that I may sufficiently satisfie all honest men, and by a iust Apologie raise vp a brasen wall or bulwarke against all the darts of the enuious, I will the more narrowly rip vp the words, whereat they seeme to be somewhat stomacked.


First then, as to the name of Puritanes, I am not ignorant that the style thereof doeth properly belong onely to that vile sect amongst the Anabaptists, called the Family of loue; because they thinke themselues onely pure, and in a maner without sinne, the onely trwe Church, and onely worthy to be participant of the Sacraments, and all the rest of the world to be but abomination in the sight of God.

Such holy warres are to be preferred to an vngodly peace: Iudge then, Christian Reader, if I wrong this sort of people, in giuing them the stile of that sect, whose errours they imitate: It is onely of this kinde of men that in this booke I write so sharply; and whom I wish my Sonne to punish, in-case they refuse to obey the Law, and will not cease to sturre vp a rebellion: Whom against I haue written the more bitterly, in respect of diuers famous libels, and iniurious speaches spread by some of them, not onely dishonourably inuective against all Christian Princes, but euen reproachfull to our profession and Religion in respect they are come out vnder coulour thereof.

No, I am so farre from being contentious in these things which for My owne part I euer esteemed as indifferent as I doe equally loue and honour the learned and graue men of either of these opinions. It can no wayes become me to pronounce so lightly a sentence, in so old a controuersie. Wee all God be praised doe agree in the grounds; and the bitternesse of men vpon such questions, doeth but trouble the peace of the Church; and giues aduantage and entry to the Papists by our diuision: But towards them, I onely vse this prouision, that where the Law is other-wayes, they may content themselues soberly and quietly with their owne opinions, not resisting to the authoritie, nor breaking the Law of the Countrey; neither aboue all, slurring any rebellion or schisme: And that this is the onely meaning of my Booke, and not any coldnesse or cracke in Religion, that place doeth plainly witnesse, where, after I haue spoken of the faults in our Ecclesiasticall estate, I exhort my sonne to be beneficiall vnto the good-men of the Ministrie; praising God there, that there is presently a suffi cient number of good men of them in this kingdom; and yet are they all knowne to be against the forme of the English Church.

Yea, so farre I am basillikon that place from dodon corruption in Religion, as I wish basilikob in promoouing them, to vse such caution, as may preserue their estate from creeping to corruption; euer vsing that forme through the whole Booke, where euer I speake of bad Preachers, terming them some of the Ministers, and not Ministers or Ministrie in generall.

And to conclude this point of Religion, what indifferencie of Religion can Momus call that in Mee, where, speaking of my sonnes marriage in case it pleased God before that time to cut the threed of my life I plainly forewarne him of the inconuenients that were like to ensew, incase he should marry any that be of a different profession in Religion from him: Dorpn as for the other point, that by some parts in this bwsilikon, it should appeare, that I doe nourish in my minde, a vindictiue resolution against England, or some principals there; it -is surely more then wonderfull vnto me, vpon what grounds they can haue gathered such conclusions.

For as vpon the one part, I neither by name droon description poynt out England in that part of my discourse; so vpon the other, I plainly bewray my meaning to be of Scottish-men, where I conclude that purpose in these termes: That the loue I beare to my Sonne, hath mooued me to be so plaine in this argument: And English-men could not thereby be meant, since they could be no traitours, where they ought no alleageance. But the drift of that discourse doth fully cleare my intention, being onely grounded vpon that precept to my Sonne, that he should not permit any vnreuerent detracting of his pradecessours; bringing in that purpose of my mother onely for an example of my experience anent Scottish-men, without vsing any perswasion to him of reuenge.

For a Kings giuing of any doe fault the dew stile, inferres no reduction of thefaulters pardon. No, I am by a degree but nearer of kinne vnto my mother then he is, neither thinke I myselfe, either that our vnworthie, or that neere my end, that I neede to make such a Dauidicall testament; since I have baslikon thought it the dewtie of a worthie Prince, rather with a Pike, then a Penne, to write his iust reuenge: But in this matter I haue no delite to be doon, wishing all men to iudge of my future proiects, according to my by-past actions.

I know the greatest Part of the people of this whole Isle, haue beene very curious for a sight thereof: Some onely for meere curiositie, that thinke it their honour to know all new reserue things, were curious to glut their basilijon therewith, onely that they might vaunt them to haue seene it: So as this their great concurrence in curiositie though proceeding from farre different complexions hath enforced the vn-timous divulgating of this Booke, farre contrarie to my intention, as I haue alreadie dorpn.

Basilikon Doron |

Though I cannot please all men therein, I am contented, so that I onel basilikoon the vertuous sort: But if in some places it seeme too obscure, impute it to the shortnesse thereof, being both for the respect of my selfe, and of my Sonne, constrained there-unto: So as it was neither fit for him, nor possiblefor me, to haue made this Treatise any basiilikon ample then it dorpn. Indeed I am litle beholden to the curiositie of some, who thinking it too large alreadie as appears for lacke of leisure to copy it, drew some notes out of it, for speeds sake; putting in basi,ikon one halfe of the purpose, and leauing out the other: And of these notes making a little pamphlet lacking, both my methode and halfe of my matter entituled it, forsooth, the Kings Dorpn, as if I had eiked a third Testament of my owne to the two that are in the holy Scriptures.


It is trew that in a place thereof, for affirmation of the purpose I am speaking of to my Sonne, I bring my slefe in there, as speaking vpon my Testament: But from any particular sentence in a booke, to giue the booke it selfe a title, is as ridiculous, as to style the booke of the Psalmes, the booke of Dixit insipiens, because with these wordes one of them doeth begin.

Well, leauing these new baptizers and blockers of other mens,books, to their owne follies, I returne to my purpose, anent the shortnesse of this booke, suspecting that all my excusesfor the shortnesse thereof, shall not satisfie some, basilikoj -in our basilikonn countrey: I know indeed, no kingdome lackes her owne diseases, and likewise what interest I haue in the prosperitie of that state: But notwithstanding, since there is a lawfull Queene there presently reigning, who hath so long with so great wisedome and felicitie gouerned her kingdomes, as I must in trew sinceritie confesse the like hath not beene read nor heard of, either in our time, or since the dayes of the Soron Emperour Augustus; it could no wayes become me, farre inferiour to her in knowledge and experience, to be a busie-body in other princes matters, and to fish in other folkes waters, as the prouerbe is: No, I hope dlron the contrary with Gods grace euer to keepe that Christian rule, To doe as I would be done to: And thus hauing resolued all the doubts, so farre as I can imagine, may be moued against this Treatise; it onely rests to pray thee charitable Reader to interprete fauourably this birth of mine, according to the integritie of the author, and not looking for perfection in the worke it selfe.

As basiliokn my part, I onely glory thereof in this point, that I trust no sort of vertue is condemned, nor any degree of vice allowed in it: Which as in all my actions I haue hitherto preassed to expresse, so farre as the nature of my charge, and the condition of time would permit me: And thus in a firme trust that it shall please God, who with my being and Crowne, gaue me this minde, to maintaine and augment basilikom same in me and my posteritie, to the discharge owne of our conscience, the maintenance of our Honour, and weale of our people, I bid thee heartily farewell.

Neither can anything in his gouernment succeed well with basiikon, deuise and labour as he list as comming from a filthie spring, if his person be vnsanctified: Remember, that as in dignitie hee hath erected you aboue others, so ought ye in thankfulnesse towards him, goe as farre beyond all others. A moate in anothers eye, is a beame into yours: Thinke not therefore, that the highnesse of your dignitie, diminisheth your faults much lesse giueth you a licence to sinne but by the contrary your fault shall be aggrauated, according to the height of your basilijon any sinne that ye commit, not being a single sinne procuring but the fall of one; but being an exemplare sinne, and therefore drawing with it the whole multitude to dorom guiltie of the same.

Remember then, that this glistering worldly glorie of Kings, is giuen them by God, to teach them to preasse so to glister and shine before their people, in all workes of sanctification and righteousnesse, that their persons as basilikoh lampes of godlinesse and vertue, may, going in and out before their basili,on, giue light to all their steps.

Now, the onely way to bring you to this knowledge, is diligently to reade his word, and earnestly to pray for the right vnderstanding thereof.

But aboue all, beware ye wrest basilikkn the word to your owne appetite, as ouer many doe, making it like a bell to sound as ye please to interprete: The whole Scripture chiefly containeth two things: Obey in both; neither thinke basiliko enough to abstaine from euill, and do no good; nor thinke not that if yee doe many good things, it may serve you for a cloake to mixe euill turnes therewith. And as in these two points, the whole Scripture principally consisteth, so in two degrees standeth the whole seruice of God by man: As for the particular points of Religion, I need not to dilate them; I am no hypocrite, follow my footsteps, and your owne present education therein.

I basilikkn God, I was neuer ashamed to giue account of my profession, howsoeuer the malicious lying tongues of dorron haue traduced me: For the first part then of mans seruice to his God, which is Religion, that is, the worship of God according to his reuealed will, it is wholly grounded vpon the Scripture, as I haue alreadie said, quickened by faith, and conserued by conscience: For the Scripture, I haue now spoken of it in generall, but that yee may the more readily make choice of any part thereof, for your instruction or comfort, remember shortly this methode.

The whole Scripture is dyted by Gods Spirit, thereby, as by his liuely word, to instruct and rule the whole Church militant to the and of the world: It is composed of two parts, the Olde and New Testament: The summe of the Law is bxsilikon tenne Commandements, more largely delated in the bookes of Moses, in- 1. But because no basilikoj was able to keepe the Law, nor any part thereof, it pleased God of his infinite wisedome and goodnesse, to incarnate his only Sonne in our nature, for satisfaction of his iustice in his suffering for vs; that since we could not be saued by doing, we might at least, bee saued by beleeuing.

The ground therefore of the word of grace, is badilikon in the foure histories of the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascention of Christ: The larger interpretation and vse thereof, basilikln contained in the Epistles of the Apostles: Would ye then know your sinne by the Lawe?