In December 1603, the English aristocracy gathered at Hampton Court Palace for a fortnight of festivities: everyone was keen to get a glimpse of the new king as he hosted his first English winter court.
Behind the scenes, four Puritan ministers were summoned to appear, to make their case for further reform of the Church of England.
James was a Protestant monarch, but he also believed in the divine right of kings, and the Hampton Court Conference would witness a three-day debate to determine the direction the Church would follow under the Stuart dynasty.
James was a ‘walking library’ who wrote lengthy books on the art of being king and presided over the Hampton Court Conference and the commissioning of the ‘King James Bible’.
James himself was pilloried for being vulgar and gained a reputation for fawning over young men in public, pampering his favourites with money and titles. The whispers about his private behaviour ripened accordingly: he was not only accused of being decadent, but of being decadent without style.
His son Charles I would bring many glorious artworks to Hampton Court palace.