Wednesday, October 13, 2010

On This Day in Tudor History

On October 12, 1537, Edward VI was born to Henry VIII and his third wife, Jane Seymour. Edward was the third monarch of the Tudor dynasty and England's first ruler who was raised as a Protestant.

Edward became King of England and Ireland on 28 January 1547 and was crowned on 20 February at the age of nine. The realm was governed by a Regency Council, because he never reached maturity. The Council was led by his uncle, Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, and then by John Dudley, 1st Earl of Warwick, who later became Duke of Northumberland.

Edward's reign was marked by economic problems and social unrest that, in 1549, erupted into riot and rebellion. 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, celebration of mass and other services in English. The architect of these reforms was Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, whose Book of Common Prayer is still used today.

Edward fell ill in January 1553, and when he realized it was terminal, he and his Council drew up a "Devise for the Succession" to prevent the country being returned to Catholicism. Edward named his cousin, Lady Jane Grey, as his heir and excluded his half sisters, Mary and Elizabeth. However, this was disputed following Edward's death and Jane was only queen for nine days before Edward's half-sister, Mary, was proclaimed Queen. She proceeded to reverse many of Edward's Protestant reforms and turn England Catholic again.

Edward became ill in January 1553 with a fever and cough that gradually worsened. He made his final appearance in public on July 1, when he showed himself at his window in Greenwich Palace, horrifying those who saw him by his "thin and wasted" condition.

Edward died at the age of 15 at Greenwich Palace on July 6, 1553. He was buried in Henry VII Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey on August 8, 1553, with reformed rites performed by Thomas Cranmer. At the same time, Queen Mary attended a mass for his soul in the Tower, where Jane Grey was, by then, a prisoner.

The cause of Edward VI's death is not certain. As with many royal deaths in the 16th century, rumours of poisoning abounded, but no evidence has been found to support these. The Duke of Northumberland, whose unpopularity was underlined by the events that followed Edward's death, was widely believed to have ordered the imagined poisoning. The surgeon who opened Edward's chest after his death found that "the disease whereof his majesty died was the disease of the lungs". The Venetian ambassador reported that Edward had died of consumption—in other words, tuberculosis—a diagnosis accepted by many historians.

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1 comment:

  1. I agree with the other postings and will reiterate that Hampton Court is an absolute MUST! If you love Tudor history, this simply can't be missed.