When Measure for Measure was performed by Shakespeare’s theatre company, the King’s Men, at the court of James I on Saint Stephen’s day, 26 December 1604, the Basilikon Doron was well known. 1 It was the mirror of princes that in 1599 the then James VI of Scotland had dedicated to the education of his first-born son, Henry, so he could learn the art of governing the State from his father. The book, written first in Scots and then published in English four days after the death of the sovereign Elizabeth I, is a radical justification of absolute power through biblical exegesis. James Stuart prided himself on being an excellent reader of the sacred texts, so much so that a few years later – to fulfil his desiderata – he would have a new translation made of the Bible, the so-called King James Version (or Authorized Version), from 1611 to the present day still the official Bible of the Church of England. In tune with the cultural climate surrounding the dispute between the parliament, courts and sovereign on the matter of the production and interpretation of the law, the purpose of James I’s Bible was to reduce the subjects’ hermeneutical possibilities to a minimum. The Basilikon Doron (and the The Trew Law of Free Monarchies from 1598) fitted into the same context of the sovereign laying claim to the arcana imperii or State secrets, the monarch’s divine right, absolute power, the Salic law of succession to the throne, the indisputability of the sovereign’s choices, the mystery of State that is not the ‘Subiect for the tongue of a Lawyer’, 2 and the illegitimacy of rebellion, even against a tyrant. The divine right developed in analogy with private law, in particular with the feudal system’s law of succession – ‘[t]he right was hereditary as well as divine’ 3 – and set out that the sovereign was above the law, and that the only judge of the relationship between the law and the royal prerogative was the same sovereign. So, the person and property of the subjects, whether lay or religious, were at the monarch’s absolute disposition, and the divine right demanded unconditional obedience, even towards a tyrant, in which case, the monarch, however evil, would be no less divine: ‘he is sent by God as a punishment of the people for their sins and his tyranny must be met by nothing more than prayers, sighs, and tears’. 4