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Temporarily Out of Stock Online Please check back later for updated availability. Overview This book is a reconstruction of the kingship and politics of the third Tudor king of England, Edward VI born , who reigned between from the age of nine until his death in The reign has often been interpreted as a period of political instability, mainly because of the king's age. This book explores how the reign was remarkably stable; and also how, during the reign of Elizabeth I the Edwardian idea of what it was to be a monarch--and many of the same men who had served Edward VI as councillors and courtiers--dominated Tudor politics.

Product Details Table of Contents. Table of Contents List of illustrations; Acknowledgements; Abbreviations and conventions; Introduction; 1. Stephen Gardiner was refused access to Henry during his last months.

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Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk , found himself accused of treason ; the day before the king's death his vast estates were seized, making them available for redistribution, and he spent the whole of Edward's reign in the Tower of London. Whatever the case, Henry's death was followed by a lavish hand-out of lands and honours to the new power group.

It entrusted the government of the realm during his son's minority to a Regency Council that would rule collectively, by majority decision, with "like and equal charge". Somerset's appointment was in keeping with historical precedent, [59] and his eligibility for the role was reinforced by his military successes in Scotland and France. In March , he secured letters patent from King Edward granting him the almost monarchical right to appoint members to the Privy Council himself and to consult them only when he wished. Somerset's takeover of power was smooth and efficient. He then found himself abruptly dismissed from the chancellorship on charges of selling off some of his offices to delegates.

Somerset faced less manageable opposition from his younger brother Thomas Seymour , who has been described as a "worm in the bud". He began smuggling pocket money to King Edward, telling him that Somerset held the purse strings too tight, making him a "beggarly king". That September, Catherine Parr died shortly after childbirth, and Thomas Seymour promptly resumed his attentions to Elizabeth by letter, planning to marry her.

Elizabeth was receptive, but, like Edward, unready to agree to anything unless permitted by the Council. King Edward, whom Seymour was accused of planning to marry to Lady Jane Grey , himself testified about the pocket money. Lack of clear evidence for treason ruled out a trial, so Seymour was condemned instead by an Act of Attainder and beheaded on 20 March Somerset's only undoubted skill was as a soldier, which he had proven on expeditions to Scotland and in the defence of Boulogne-sur-Mer in From the first, his main interest as Protector was the war against Scotland.

The Scots allied with France, who sent reinforcements for the defence of Edinburgh in During , England was subject to social unrest. After April , a series of armed revolts broke out, fuelled by various religious and agrarian grievances. The two most serious rebellions, which required major military intervention to put down, were in Devon and Cornwall and in Norfolk. The first, sometimes called the Prayer Book Rebellion , arose from the imposition of Protestantism, and the second, led by a tradesman called Robert Kett , mainly from the encroachment of landlords on common grazing ground.

The same justification for outbreaks of unrest was voiced throughout the country, not only in Norfolk and the west. The origin of the popular view of Somerset as sympathetic to the rebel cause lies partly in his series of sometimes liberal, often contradictory, proclamations, [82] and partly in the uncoordinated activities of the commissions he sent out in and to investigate grievances about loss of tillage, encroachment of large sheep flocks on common land , and similar issues.

Whatever the popular view of Somerset, the disastrous events of were taken as evidence of a colossal failure of government, and the Council laid the responsibility at the Protector's door.

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He issued a proclamation calling for assistance, took possession of the king's person, and withdrew for safety to the fortified Windsor Castle , where Edward wrote, "Me thinks I am in prison". On 11 October, the Council had Somerset arrested and brought the king to Richmond.

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Although Somerset was released from the Tower and restored to the Council, he was executed for felony in January after scheming to overthrow Dudley's regime. Historians contrast the efficiency of Somerset's takeover of power, in which they detect the organising skills of allies such as Paget, the "master of practices", with the subsequent ineptitude of his rule.

Until recent decades, Somerset's reputation with historians was high, in view of his many proclamations that appeared to back the common people against a rapacious landowning class. In contrast, Somerset's successor John Dudley , Earl of Warwick, made Duke of Northumberland in , was once regarded by historians merely as a grasping schemer who cynically elevated and enriched himself at the expense of the crown.

The Earl of Warwick's rival for leadership of the new regime was Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton , whose conservative supporters had allied with Dudley's followers to create a unanimous Council, which they, and observers such as the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V 's ambassador, expected to reverse Somerset's policy of religious reform. As a counter-move, Warwick convinced parliament to free Somerset, which it did on 14 January Warwick then had Southampton and his followers purged from the Council after winning the support of Council members in return for titles, and was made Lord President of the Council and great master of the king's household.

As Edward was growing up, he was able to understand more and more government business. However, his actual involvement in decisions has long been a matter of debate, and during the 20th century, historians have presented the whole gamut of possibilities, "balanc[ing] an articulate puppet against a mature, precocious, and essentially adult king", in the words of Stephen Alford.

Kingship and Politics in the Reign of Edward VI

Edward chose the members himself. The Duke of Northumberland's mode of operation was very different from Somerset's. Careful to make sure he always commanded a majority of councillors, he encouraged a working council and used it to legitimise his authority. Lacking Somerset's blood-relationship with the king, he added members to the Council from his own faction in order to control it.


He also added members of his family to the royal household. Warwick's war policies were more pragmatic than Somerset's, and they have earned him criticism for weakness. In , he signed a peace treaty with France that agreed to withdrawal from Boulogne and recalled all English garrisons from Scotland. To forestall future rebellions, he kept permanent representatives of the crown in the localities, including lords lieutenant , who commanded military forces and reported back to central government.

Working with William Paulet and Walter Mildmay , Warwick tackled the disastrous state of the kingdom's finances. By , confidence in the coinage was restored, prices fell, and trade at last improved. Though a full economic recovery was not achieved until Elizabeth's reign, its origins lay in the Duke of Northumberland's policies. In the matter of religion, the regime of Northumberland followed the same policy as that of Somerset, supporting an increasingly vigorous programme of reform. The man Edward trusted most, Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, introduced a series of religious reforms that revolutionised the English church from one that—while rejecting papal supremacy—remained essentially Catholic, to one that was institutionally Protestant.

The confiscation of church property that had begun under Henry VIII resumed under Edward—notably with the dissolution of the chantries —to the great monetary advantage of the crown and the new owners of the seized property. The religious convictions of both Somerset and Northumberland have proved elusive for historians, who are divided on the sincerity of their Protestantism.

The English Reformation advanced under pressure from two directions: from the traditionalists on the one hand and the zealots on the other, who led incidents of iconoclasm image-smashing and complained that reform did not go far enough. Reformed doctrines were made official, such as justification by faith alone and communion for laity as well as clergy in both kinds , of bread and wine. After , the Reformation advanced further, with the approval and encouragement of Edward, who began to exert more personal influence in his role as Supreme Head of the church. In February , Edward VI became ill, and by June, after several improvements and relapses, he was in a hopeless condition.

For lakke of issu [masle inserted above the line, but afterwards crossed out] of my body [to the issu masle above the line cumming of thissu femal, as i have after declared inserted, but crossed out]. To the L Franceses heires masles, [For lakke of erased] [if she have any inserted] such issu [befor my death inserted] to the L' Janes [and her inserted] heires masles, To the L Katerins heires masles, To the L Maries heires masles, To the heires masles of the daughters wich she shal haue hereafter.

Then to the L Margets heires masles. For lakke of such issu, To th'eires masles of the L Janes daughters. To th'eires masles of the L Katerins daughters, and so forth til yow come to the L Margets [daughters inserted] heires masles. If after my death theire masle be entred into 18 yere old, then he to have the hole rule and gouernauce therof. But if he be under 18, then his mother to be gouuernres til he entre 18 yere old, But to doe nothing w'out th'auise and agremet inserted of 6 parcel of a counsel to be pointed by my last will to the nombre of If the mother die befor th'eire entre into 18 the realme to be gouuerned by the cousel Prouided that after he be 14 yere al great matters of importaunce be opened to him.

If i died w'out issu, and there were none heire masle, then the L Fraunces to be reget altered to gouuernres. For lakke of her, the her eldest daughters,4 and for lakke of them the L Marget to be gouuernres after as is aforsaid, til sume heire masle be borne, and then the mother of that child to be gouuernres. And if during the rule of the gouuernres ther die 4 of the counsel, then shal she by her letters cal an asseble of the counsel w'in on month folowing and chose 4 more, wherin she shal haue thre uoices.

But after her death the 16 shal chose emong themselfes til th'eire come to 18 erased 14 yeare olde, and then he by ther aduice shal chose them" In his document Edward provided, in case of "lack of issue of my body", for the succession of male heirs only, that is, Jane Grey's mother's male heirs, Jane's, or her sisters'. Yet Edward conceded Jane's right only as an exception to male rule, demanded by reality, an example not to be followed if Jane or her sisters had only daughters.

In early June, Edward personally supervised the drafting of a clean version of his devise by lawyers, to which he lent his signature "in six several places. It was now common knowledge that Edward was dying, and foreign diplomats suspected that some scheme to debar Mary was under way. France found the prospect of the emperor's cousin on the English throne disagreeable and engaged in secret talks with Northumberland, indicating support.

Edward VI in a Nutshell

For centuries, the attempt to alter the succession was mostly seen as a one-man-plot by the Duke of Northumberland. Edward became ill during January with a fever and cough that gradually worsened. The imperial ambassador , Jean Scheyfve , reported that "he suffers a good deal when the fever is upon him, especially from a difficulty in drawing his breath, which is due to the compression of the organs on the right side".

By 7 May he was "much amended", and the royal doctors had no doubt of his recovery. A few days later the king was watching the ships on the Thames, sitting at his window. To his tutor John Cheke he whispered, "I am glad to die". Edward made his final appearance in public on 1 July, when he showed himself at his window in Greenwich Palace, horrifying those who saw him by his "thin and wasted" condition.

During the next two days, large crowds arrived hoping to see the king again, but on 3 July, they were told that the weather was too chilly for him to appear. According to John Foxe 's legendary account of his death, his last words were: "I am faint; Lord have mercy upon me, and take my spirit". The procession was led by "a grett company of chylderyn in ther surples" and watched by Londoners "wepyng and lamenting"; the funeral chariot, draped in cloth of gold, was topped by an effigy of Edward, with crown, sceptre, and garter.