King Edward VI was the son of Henry VIII and his third wife Jane Seymour. Henry VIII died while Edward was still a child. Since Edward was a minor, a council of 16 was empowered to govern until the King came of age. After Henry’s death, Edward’s uncle, Edward Seymour was elevated to be Lord Protector and governor of the King’s person. Seymour was made Duke of Somerset.
Edward was kept away from the court as a child to keep him from catching some disease.
Edward was fond of his stepmother, Catherine Parr whom Henry the 8th married when Edward was only 6.
Edward's education began at the age of 6. His chief tutor was Richard Cox who had been educated at King's College Cambridge. Dr John Checke of St John's College Cambridge was assigned as an additional tutor. Edward was taught the classics, grammar, math, languages, theology, philosophy and the sciences. He was assigned a whipping boy, who took Edward's punishments.
Edward VI was a religious radical. He repealed the Henrician treason and heretical laws in 1547. This made England a haven for all those accused of heresy from the continent. Edward inherited a huge deficit from Henry’s rule which caused inflation.
Thomas Cranmer was Archbishop of Canterbury during Edward's reign and changed the doctrine, ritual and law of the English church.
Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset did not rule England with a stern hand as a result there was much corruption. Landlords began enclosure of their lands and evicted tenants. The enclosure of the lands was due to the demand for wool in Europe markets. It was more profitable to raise sheep and enclose them on the lands that were once farmed by tenants who paid rent to the landowners. The landlords raised the rents. When the tenants could not pay the rent, they were evicted. Then the lands were enclosed, so the sheep could run free with only a dog to tend to them. These sheep were pedigree sheep that produced excellent wool. Enclosure kept other sheep from breeding with the pedigree sheep therefore keeping the wool pure and the price high.
The Lord Protector's brother, Thomas Seymour, spoke out against enclosure. He gained many enemies among his peers who profited from enclosure. Bishop Latimer spoke out against the landlords and the merchants. Laws were enacted to prevent enclosure. Latimer was later executed by Mary 1 for heresy.
John Dudley, Earl of Warwick took power and had Edward Seymour executed for treason. Dudley was given the title, Duke of Northumberland. Dudley gave Edward VI the power of the privy purse. The Duke of Northumberland intended for England to stay Protestant. They knew if Mary took power after Edward, England would revert to Catholicism. If England had reverted to Catholicism, their lands that were once Church lands would revert back to the Church. There would also be many executions.
Northumberland confiscated lands and estates of Chantry priests. Chantry priests prayed for the souls of those lost in purgatory (Catholic belief). Bishops were put in the tower and replaced at half the salary.
Edward VI last words was, "Oh lord, save they chosen people of England, defend his realm from papistry and maintain they true religion"
Hugh Latimer Preaching Before King Edward VI at Westminster in 1547, from "Acts and Monuments"
Portrait of Edward VI King of England, Aged About 14 from "Memoirs of the Court of Queen Elizabeth"
King Edward VI Granting a Charter to the Barber-Surgeons of London
Edward VI died at age 16 of consumption (tuberculosis)
related subject: Medieval Castles in England