James VI & I (19 June 1566 – 27 March 1625) was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567. On 24 March 1603, he also became King of England and Ireland as James I when he inherited the English and Irish crown and thereby united the Crown of the Kingdom of Scotland with the crown of the Kingdoms of England and Ireland (each country remained legally separate, with their own Parliaments, judiciary, and laws, though each was ruled by James). James VI & I continued to reign in all three kingdoms until his death in 1625, but based himself in England (the largest of the three realms) from 1603. At 57 years and 246 days, his reign in Scotland was longer than any of his predecessors.
He became King of Scots when he was just thirteen months old, succeeding his mother Mary, Queen of Scots, who had been compelled to abdicate in his favour. Four different regents governed during his minority, which ended officially in 1578, though he did not gain full control of his government until 1581. In 1603, he succeeded the last Tudor monarch of England and Ireland, Elizabeth I, who died without issue. He then ruled England, Scotland, and Ireland for 22 years, often using the title King of Great Britain, until his death at the age of 58. James, in line with other monarchs of England of the time, also claimed the title King of France, although he did not actually rule France.
Under James, the "Golden Age" of Elizabethan literature and drama continued, with writers such as William Shakespeare, John Donne, Ben Jonson, and Sir Francis Bacon contributing to a flourishing literary culture. James himself was a talented scholar, the author of works such as Daemonologie (1597), True Law of Free Monarchies (1598), and Basilikon Doron (1599). Sir Anthony Weldon claimed that James had been termed "the wisest fool in Christendom", an epithet associated with his character ever since.