Sir Robert Cotton, James VI and I and an English cenotaph for two Scottish princes

C Murray (Author)

Sir Robert Cotton, British Library, Cotton Collections, James VI, James I
Scotland; UK
early modern


For Sir Robert Cotton (1571–1631), collector, bibliophile and benefactor of the British Library’s
Cotton Collections, dynastic prestige was paramount. Through his ancestors, the Bruces of
Conington, he claimed descent from the ancient Scottish royal line and therefore kinship with his
new sovereign, King James VI and I. A distinguished antiquarian, his extensive engagement with his
own family history was coupled with a degree of self-interest and shrewd self-promotion. This article
examines how Cotton publicly displayed his links with the royal Stuarts as a means of securing
his own advancement and of increasing his influence within the royal household. In particular,
it considers how a cenotaph, which he erected in the parish church of All Saints in Conington,
Huntingdonshire, to his distant forbear, Prince Henry of Scotland (c 1115–52), may also represent
an oblique response to the politically destabilising death in 1612 of his own contemporary, Henry
Frederick, Prince of Wales.


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How to Cite
Murray, C. (2010). Sir Robert Cotton, James VI and I and an English cenotaph for two Scottish princes. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 139, 305-313. Retrieved from

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