Jenny Wormald, 4 August 1994
In 1603, England went Back to Basics. Unlike their late 20th-century descendants, contemporary Englishmen knew what that meant: an adult king, of the right religious persuasion, and with a family. Fifty years of that abnormal phenomenon, petticoat government, 45 of a monarch without an heir, and, more immediately, ten of the gloom and doom caused by a sterile war, economic distress and mounting fears for the future, were over. Elizabeth, the ruler who had hung on to life for too long, was dead. The reaction which she had feared, she herself having experienced it in 1558 as heir to a dying monarch, happened. Relief, rather than mourning, greeted Gloriana’s passing; and all eyes turned to Scotland and James VI.