In recent decades, understanding of the historical development of Britain and Ireland has benefited significantly from the adoption of integrated approaches to the history of Britain and Ireland. While traditional national histories laid the foundation, the new British and Irish historiography has teased out many of the nuances arising from the interaction between the three kingdoms or four nations of Britain and Ireland. This approach has produced much scholarly work for both the medieval and early modern periods, although modern historians are still grappling with attempts to write a genuinely British history.1 For the early modern period in particular, the "three kingdoms" debate of the seventeenth century has advanced awareness of the complexity of regal union and the problems associated with one king ruling three distinct kingdoms. It is within this wider British context that James VI and I's efforts to integrate his three kingdoms need to be viewed. Although James's "earnist dispositioun to perfyte that Union"- brought about by his succession to the English throne on 1603-was thwarted by both the English and Scottish parliaments, James could not afford to govern either kingdom in isolation.
- british history