Edward VI

Portrait_of_Edward_VI_of_England

Edward VI,

1547-1553

Born:

12 October 1537, son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, at Hampton Court Palace

Crowned:

20 February 1547 at Westminster Abbey, London

Died:

6 July 1553 at Greenwich Palace

Buried:

Westminster Abbey

Succeeded by:

Lady Jane Grey (cousin, unsuccessfully); then Mary I (older sister, successfully)

ejoicing at Edward’s birth was muted by his mother’s death, twelve days later. His father, concerned for his only son’s security and health, organized a household for him far from court.

Edward was a cheerful but independent child (at age 4, he told a physician “Go away, fool”). He never experienced a family environment until his father’s marriage to Katherine Parr, and then infrequently. He was, however, far from isolated and had several close friends with whom he danced, read and played cards.

As he matured, Edward was tutored by the greatest and most Protestant of scholars, including John Cheke and Roger Ascham. Other young noblemen joined him in the classroom for an intense education in classics, history, ethics, logic, Greek, political theory, rhetorical argument, French, mathematics, astronomy and, of course, theology and scripture.

A Protestant court was formed around young Edward. Mass became illegal, the Book of Common Prayer was introduced, and all statues and paintings were removed from churches. Edward himself became a zealous supporter of reform.

Edward’s minority government was headed by his uncle, Edward Seymour. His other Seymour uncle – ambitious, roguish and undisciplined Thomas – was executed for treason (with young Edward’s signature). Uncle Edward then fell from power and was himself executed.

The new protector, John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, concluded peace with Scotland and France, curtailed spending and streamlined the administration. Northumberland’s power came from his acknowledgment of Edward’s growing abilities. When Edward died at age 15 from tuberculosis, he was just on the verge of asserting his royal authority.

Northumberland encouraged Edward to change the succession laid down by his father. He named the strongly Protestant Jane Grey as his heir. (She was, just coincidentally, newly married to Northumberland’s son.) Henry VIII’s daughter Mary prevailed, however, and succeeded to the throne.

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