The King James Version (KJV) was born out of political compromise and royal patronage. Church life in 16th-century England was characterized by high and often violent tensions over vernacular translations of the ancient Latin version of the Bible known as the vulgate. Early translators such as William Tyndale and John Rogers were burned at the stake. When the Reformation gathered momentum after Queen Elizabeth came to the throne in 1558, the Puritans popularized the Geneva Bible, which went through 70 editions selling more than half a million copies. But when James succeeded Elizabeth, the new and scholarly king (called "the wisest fool in Christendom") identified footnotes in the Geneva Bible that he deemed to be subversive of royal authority.
At Hampton Court Palace in 1604, King James moved to end this subversion by convening a conference of established church bishops and moderate political Puritans. Keeping the latter on his side was one of James's priorities, although he was theologically opposed to their low church governance, as he showed by his comment, "No bishops, no King." Nevertheless James commissioned six committees drawn from both Puritan and Episcopalian scholars to translate a new English language version of the Bible dedicated to himself as "the principal mover and author" of the translation. So the KJV was conceived as a unifying production, endorsing the idea of a monarchical national church.