Many years ago, I heard someone say that the KJV came about because King James I wanted a version of the Bible that supported him getting a divorce. Nowadays, I can't help but wonder how true this is. Thus, I'm asking for the historical reasons the KJV came about.
Since one of the reasons for the English Reformation by King Henry VIII which lead to the creation of the Church of England was divorce, I doubt King James I would have needed a new translation.
From Wikipedia, it sounds like the main reasons for the commissioning of the KJV 70 years after the reformation were around translation errors believed to be in the existing English translations.
The newly crowned King James convened the Hampton Court Conference in 1604. That gathering proposed a new English version in response to the perceived problems of earlier translations as detected by the Puritan faction of the Church of England.
It sounds to me like what you had heard may have just been history getting crossed.
To begin with, that statement is logically flawed as the Bible does not condone divorce — KJV or not.
As far as your actual question, according to Wikipedia it seems like a new English version was proposed "[...] in response to the perceived problems of earlier translations as detected by the Puritan faction of the Church of England."
PS: There also seem to be a recent documentary on the subject, which I've been meaning to see. It seems to be available on Netflix. (GratefulDisciple: Netflix link is dead, documentary is currently available on YouTube, IMDB entry here)
The most popular Bible being used prior to the KJV was the Geneva Bible. Unfortunately for the crown, this Bible also contained footnotes of an opposing political nature. Thus the KJV was commissioned with the directive for minimal footnotes. The 1611 text is actually quite similar to the Geneva Bible.
In a time when you needed to know Latin to read the bible, it was actually King Henry who wanted a divorce and it was he who wanted to read with his own eyes what the bible said rather than take the words of priests and the pope as the gospel truth. It shouldn't come as a shock that a "king" would have a large enough ego to challenge the authority of other humans, despite their claim that their personal authority was handed down to them from God.
So translators were brought in to put it into the English language and (as someone stated in a previous reply) the words of Jesus did not justify divorce in Henry's circumstance. However, this is a very important testimony toward the accuracy of the translation and evidence that the translators were more willing to disappoint the King with bad news regarding his divorce than they were willing to anger God with a false translation of his Holy Book.
As the bible became a book that literate people could examine for themselves, it became the greatest topic of discussion in English literature. King James took up the task of completing a more thorough and complete translation of the old and new testament. A think tank of the most esteemed Latin to English translators shared their knowledge and reached an agreed-upon translation through on a consensus basis.
Then, poets were brought in to work with the translators to render it in the most eloquent form possible without compromising accuracy. I am among the many who feel that it is the highest achievement of the written English language. Despite what is often thought, the King James Bible is written in what is considered "modern English" and I feel that a literate person of average intelligence can comprehend it easily enough without the need for dumbing it down or catering to the vocabulary fashion trends of the day. I feel that "Zenith English" is a more appropriate description than "Modern English" because the English language, especially in literature, was more far more revered in the days of King James than in the present.
Also, intelligence and proper speech were considered desirable virtues among men, unlike in modern times when falsified stigmas that intelligence and proper speech are indicators of a male who lacks masculinity. So rather than reducing this great achievement in literature to fit your limitations in vocabulary, I suggest reading it as it is and I expect it will be rewarding to you like it was for me. More precisely, I suspect you will find it beneficial to your ability to express yourself with the written English word. I, after all, am a West Virginian with only a high school degree, would you have guessed? King James Bible folks, works for me!