The King Child: King Edward VI

BORN: October 12, 1537

London, England

DIED: July 6, 1553 (aged 15)

London, England

TITLE OFFICE: King, England (1547-1553)

HOUSE / DYNASTY: House of Tudor

FAMILY: Father – King Henry VIII                  Mother – Jane Seymour

He may have ruled for just six years but, as Ralph Houlbrooke explains, Edward VI found ample time to steer England towards Protestantism…

He was crowned on 20 February at the age of nine.

Edward was King Henry VIII’s only legitimate son; his mother, Henry’s third wife, Jane Seymour, died 12 days after his birth.

Henry had ended his marriages to Katharine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn when they failed at the most important queenly duty, each woman bearing a healthy princess but no surviving prince. Jane Seymour, the king’s third wife, was luckier.

She ensured the king’s lasting affection when she gave birth to Edward, but she died 12 days after of puerperal sepsis.

The infant prince was the only male Tudor heir of his generation; he had two sisters and Henry VIII’s sisters Mary and Margaret had several daughters. If Edward died, the throne would pass to a woman and the Tudor dynasty would end.

 

Accordingly, King Henry did all he could to protect his son’s health; the infant prince lived in safe seclusion until his father wed Katharine Parr.

Henry’s last wife became a beloved mother to Edward and he adopted the zealous Protestantism which she championed.

King Edward VI in England as a child

Health wise

Edward has traditionally been viewed as a frail child who was never in good health, some recent authorities have maintained that until several years before his death, he was a robust, athletically inclined youth, though his health status gave a fright whether died noticing he was very lean and though their are various theories to his death Based on his health but it’s safe to say his health was not much stable-having a sick youth.

Education

His tutors found him to be intellectually gifted, a precocious student of Greek, Latin, French, Spanish as it was regarded to be extensive, not just only learning languages at age six. In addition scriptures and philosophy, liberal sciences, geometry, and learning to play several musical instruments.

Edward would also show a particular aptitude towards monetary affairs. It would appear as his education continued with his sister Elizabeth’s own tutor, that an amount of competitiveness emerged between Edward and his sister Elizabeth and her own academic prowess.

Henry had decreed that during Edward’s minority the government was to be run by a council of regency,  as he did not want the Tudor dynasty to stop with a female coming to throne.

Being king he was not beaten, his friend had to be beaten as a form of correction. It was believed so..

Whipping Child: As both grew up and spend quite a lot of time together, a friendship or affectionate tie often developed between the young slave child and the young master. The slave boy or girl had to undergo the physical punishment and the young master had to watch.

Edward VI and his Whipping Boy” by Walter Sydney Stacey from his 1882 oil painting.

His sister Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth 1, but as such as the family history of the monarch is known, very little about King Edward VI is known about his short reign. Dying at the age of 15 due to sickness.

Legacy

Amdist political and expensive war.

It was during Edward’s reign that Protestantism was established for the first time in England with reforms that included the abolition of clerical celibacy and the Mass, and the imposition of compulsory services in English.

Within his six years of reign, the Church transferred from an essentially Catholic liturgy and structure to one that is usually identified as Protestant. In particular, the introduction of the Book of Common Prayer, the Ordinal of 1550, and Cranmer’s Forty-two Articles formed the basis for English Church practices that continue to this day, but this could not go internationally as he wanted.

Devise Succession

When his sickness was discovered to be terminal, he and his Council drew up a “Devise for the Succession”, to prevent the country’s return to Catholicism. As was Mary’s religion he devised a way for his first cousin to take over the throne Jane Grey who was 16 .

This was not just based  on religious grounds but also on those of legitimacy and male inheritance, which also applied to Elizabeth based on his fathers believe that they were illegitimate.

He altered the process of succession that his father had written  for Jane to take over after his death and her sisters but in a way the proclamation will not go forth if they have female daughters but Jane’s reign on the throne due to proclamation lasted for 9 days and Mary succeded the throne.

Though Edward’s reign was short, ruling at age Nine and dying Feb 1553 at 15. It’s easy for his legacy and rule not to be remembered because it was short and advised by regency council but for his young leadership prospect and looking back in history as that of King Josiah he is a careful study of personality for this month and is celebrated as such. The lost king.

Further reading: “The Tudors: The Complete Story of England’s Most Notorious Dynasty” by G.J. Meyer, “Edward VI: The Lost King of England” by Chris Skidmore, “Edward VI” by Jennifer Loach, entry on King Edward VI in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography written by Dale Hoak

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