The True Law of Free Monarchies

A king explains why he should rule and you should bow.

The True Law of Free Monarchies: Or The Reciprocal and Mutual Duty Betwixt a Free King and His Natural Subjects

By King James I of England – 1598

As there is not a thing so necessary to be known by the people of any land, next the knowledge of their God, as the right knowledge of their alleageance, according to the form of government established among them, especially in a Monarchy (which form of government, as resembling the Divinitie, approacheth nearest to perfection, as all the learned and wise men from the beginning have agreed upon; Vnitie being the perfection of all things,)…

First then, I will set down the true grounds, whereupon I am to build, out of the Scriptures, since Monarchy is the true pattern of Divinitie, as I have already said: next, from the fundamental Lawes of our own Kingdom, which nearest must concern us: thirdly, from the law of Nature, by divers similitudes drawn out of the same: and will conclude syne by answering the most waighty and appearing incommodities that can be objected.

The Princes duty to his Subjects is so clearely set down in many places of the Scriptures, and so openly confessed by all the good Princes, according to their oath in their Coronation, as not needing to be long therein, I shall as shortly as I can run through it.

Kings are called Gods by the propheticall King Dauid, because they sit upon GOD his Throne in the earth, and have the count of their administration to give unto him. Their office is, To minister Justice and Judgement to the people, as the same David saith: To advance the good, and punish the evil, as he likewise saith: To establish good Lawes to his people, and procure obedience to the same, as divers good Kings of Judah did: To procure the peace of the people, as the same David saith: To decide all controversies that can arise among them  as Solomon did: To be the Minister of God for the weale of them that doe well, and as the minister of God, to take vengeance upon them that do evill, as S. Paul saith. And finally, As a good Pastour, to goe out and in before his people  as is said in the first of Samuel: That through the Princes prosperitie, the peoples peace may be procured, as Jeremie saith.

And therefore in the Coronation of our own Kings, as well as of every Christian Monarchy they give their Oath, first to maintain the Religion presently professed within their country, according to their laws, whereby it is established, and to punish all those that should presse to alter, or disturbe the profession thereof; And next to maintain all the lovable and good Laws made by their predecessours: to see them put in execution, and the breakers and violaters thereof, to be punished, according to the tenour of the same: And lastly, to maintaine the whole country, and every state therein, in all their ancient Priviledges and Liberties, as well against all forreine enemies, as among themselues: And shortly to procure the weale and flourishing of his people, not onely in maintain- ing and putting to execution the olde lowable lawes of the countrey, and by establishing of new (as necessitie and evil maners will require) but by all other meanes possible to foresee and prevent all dangers, that are likely to fall vpon them, and to maintain concord, wealth, and civilitie among them, as a loving Father, and careful watchman, caring for them more then for himselfe, knowing himselfe to be ordained for them, and they not for him; and therefore countable to that great God, who placed him as his lieutenant over them, vpon the perill of his soul to procure the weale of both soules and bodies, as far as in him lieth, of all them that are committed to his charge. And this oath in the Coronation is the clearest, civil, and fundamentall Law, whereby the Kings office is properly defined.

By the Law of Nature the King becomes a naturall Father to all his Lieges at his Coronation: And as the Father of his fatherly duty is bound to care for the nourishing, education, and virtuous government of his children; even so is the king bound to care for all his subiects. As all the toile and paine that the father can take for his children, will be thought light and well bestowed by him, so that the effect thereof redound to their profite and weale; so ought the Prince to doe towards his people. As the kindly father ought to foresee all inconvenients and dangers that may arise towards his children, and though with the hazard of his owne person presse to prevent the same; so ought the King towards his people. As the fathers wrath and correction vpon any of his children that offendeth, ought to be by a fatherly chastisement seasoned with pitie, as long as there is any hope of amendment in them; so ought the King towards any of his Lieges that offend in that measure. And shortly, as the Fathers chiefe ioy ought to be in procuring his childrens welfare, rejoycing at their weale, sorrowing and pitying at their evil, to hazard for their safetie, travell for their rest, wake for their sleepe; and in a word, to thinke that his earthly felicitie and life standeth and liveth more in them, nor in himselfe; so ought a good Prince think of his people.

As to the other branch of this mutuall and reciprock band, is the duety and alleageance that the Lieges owe to their King: the ground whereof, I take out of the words of Samuel, cited by Gods Spirit, when God had given him commandement to heare the peoples voice in choosing and annointing them a King. And because that place of Scripture being well understood, is so pertinent for our purpose, I have insert herein the very words of the Text.

9 Now therefore hearken to their voice: howbeit yet testifie vnto them, and shew them the maner of the King, that shall raigne ouer them.
10 So Samuel tolde all the wordes of the Lord vnto the people that asked a King of him.
11 And he said, This shall be the maner of the King that shall raigne ouer you: he will take your sonnes, and appoint them to his Charets, and to be his horsemen, and some shall runne before his Charet.
12 Also, hee will make them his captaines ouer thousands, and captaines ouer fif- ties, and to eare his ground, and to reape his haruest, and to make instruments of warre and the things that serue for his charets:
13 Hee will also take your daughters, and make them Apothicaries, and Cookes, and Bakers.
14 And hee will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your best Oliue trees, and giue them to his seruants.
15 And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your Vineyards, and giue it to his Eunuches, and to his seruants.
16 And he will take your men seruants, and your maid-seruants, and the chiefe of your young men, and your asses, and put them to his worke.
17 He will take the tenth of your sheepe: and ye shall be his seruants.
18 And ye shall cry out at that day, because of your King, whom ye haue chosen you: and the Lord God will not heare you at that day.
19 But the people would not heare the voice of Samuel, but did say: Nay, but there shalbe a King ouer vs.
20 And we also willbe all like other Nations, and our King shall iudge vs, and goe out before vs, and fight our battels.

That these words, and discourses of Samuel were cited by Gods Spirit, it needs no further probation, but that it is a place of Scripture; since the whole Scripture is cited by that inspiration, as Paul saith: which ground no good Christian will, or dare deny. Whereupon it must necessarily follow, that these speeches proceeded not from any ambition in Samuel…  But by the contrary it is plaine, and evident, that this speech of Samuel to the people, was to prepare their hearts before the hand to the due obedience of that King, which God was to give vnto them; and therefore opened up unto them, what might be the intollerable qualities that might fall in some of their kings, thereby preparing them to patience, not to resist to Gods ordinance: but as he would have said; Since God hath granted your importunate suit in giving you a king, as yee have else committed an errour in shaking off Gods yoke, and over-hastie seeking of a King; so beware yee fall not into the next, in casting off also rashly that yoke, which God at your earnest suite hath laid upon you, how hard that ever it seeme to be: For as ye could not have obtained one without the permission and ordinance of God, so may ye no more, for he be once set over you, shake him off without the same warrant. And therefore in time arme your selves with patience and humilitie, since he that hath the only power to make him, hath the onely power to vnmake him; and ye onely to obey, bearing with these straits that I now foreshew you, as with the finger of God, which lieth not in you to take off.

All men are created equal – versus – kings are gods, a natural Father to all his Lieges upon his Coronation, and the duty and allegiance that the Lieges owe to their King is from the words of Samuel cited by Gods Spirit

(excerpted, some spelling modernized)


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