Financing the crown was, perhaps, the seminal question in the English reign of James
VI and I. Attempts to tap commercial wealth were a central feature of fiscal policy. The derivations
of crown finance from commerce are straightforward; for instance, customs duties or concessions the
crown held in monopolies and patents. The grandest project of James's reign, Alderman Cockayne's
project to export dyed and dressed cloth, embodied these commercial-fiscal connections in addition to the
goal of economic growth. The same points are exemplified by proposals to construct a fleet of fishing
vessels (busses) with which to confront Dutch mastery of the trade. This project also enticed policy-makers and provides a vehicle through which to examine the relationship between crown finance and
commerce, the revisionist approach to the structural failures of early Stuart government, and the politics
of crown finance. The first section will trace the development of ‘projects’ and the conceptualization
of crown finance as a project par excellence. The second section analyses specifically the busses projects.
The final section examines the interaction of busses and fiscal policy in the 1610s. The argument is
that the ultimate failure of finance was political rather than structural and the basis for this failure
lay in the operation of Jacobean kingship upon policy-making.