Edward VI of England Biography

(King of England and Ireland from 1547 to 1553)

Birthday: October 12, 1537 (Libra)

Born In: London, England

Edward VI served as the king of England for six years from 1547 until his death in 1553. The only son of King Henry VIII from his third wife Jane Seymour, Edward’s accession as the king of England was indisputable right from the time of his birth, surpassing his half-sisters Mary and Elizabeth. The death of King Henry VIII led Edward to take up the coveted throne at the tender age of nine. As he was too young to reign, a Regency Council was set up to act on his behalf until he reached the age of maturity. The Council was first led by his uncle Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, and later by John Dudley, 1st Earl of Warwick and Duke of Northumberland. Though King Edward himself did not reign, much of the policies assumed during these six years were approved by him. It was under King Edward VI’s reign that Protestantism was established, transferring the Church from the Roman Catholic liturgy. Also, his reign led to the introduction of the Book of Common Prayer, the Ordinal of 1550, and Cranmer's Forty-two Articles, which have formed the basis for English Church practices to date. Intellectually bright and talented, Edward VI’s health had constantly been a matter of concern. In 1553, he died from tuberculosis.

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Quick Facts

British Celebrities Born In October

Also Known As: Edward VI

Died At Age: 15

Family:

father: Henry VIII of England

mother: Jane Seymour

siblings: Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, Elizabeth I of England, Henry, Henry FitzRoy, Mary I of England

Born Country: England

Emperors & Kings British Male

Died on: July 6, 1553

place of death: London, England

City: London, England

Founder/Co-Founder: Sherborne School, Christ's Hospital, Shrewsbury School, King Edward's School, Birmingham, King Edward's School, Witley, Bedford School, King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon, Queen Elizabeth's Community College

  • 1

    What was Edward VI's role in the English Reformation?

    Edward VI played a significant role in promoting Protestantism in England during his reign. He implemented religious reforms that moved the country away from Catholic practices towards a more Protestant faith.
  • 2

    How did Edward VI's health impact his reign?

    Edward VI suffered from poor health throughout his life, which ultimately led to his premature death at the age of 15. His ill health also affected his ability to govern effectively, as he was often too weak to actively participate in politics.

  • 3

    What was the significance of Edward VI's Book of Common Prayer?

    Edward VI's introduction of the Book of Common Prayer in 1549, was a key part of his religious reforms. It provided a standardized liturgy for the Church of England, reflecting the Protestant beliefs that Edward sought to establish in the country.

  • 4

    What was the outcome of Edward VI's efforts to name Lady Jane Grey as his successor?

    Edward VI attempted to name Lady Jane Grey, his cousin, as his successor in an effort to ensure Protestant rule in England. However, his plans were quickly overturned after his death, leading to the ascension of Mary I to the throne.
  • 5

    How did Edward VI's reign impact the future of England's monarchy?

    Edward VI's short reign had a lasting impact on the future of England's monarchy by solidifying Protestantism as the dominant religion in the country. His religious reforms laid the foundation for the Elizabethan Settlement under his sister, Queen Elizabeth I.
Childhood & Early Life

Edward VI was born on October 12, 1537, in Hampton Court Palace, Middlesex, to King Henry VIII and his third wife Jane Seymour. At the time of his birth, he became the undisputed heir to the throne, surpassing his two stepsisters, Mary and Elizabeth I.

Edward was christened on October 15 and was proclaimed with the title Duke of Cornwall and Earl of Chester. Sadly, his mother passed away a week after his christening due to postnatal complications.

Following Jane Seymour’s death, Edward was put under the care of several mistresses. He received his education under the tutelage of Richard Cox and John Cheke. Other than academic studies, young Edward developed musical skills as well.

From an early age, Edward was fascinated with military arts. He was often spotted sporting a gold dagger with a jeweled hilt, just like the one worn by his father King Henry VIII.

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Accession & Reign

Upon his father’s death on January 28, 1547, the nine-year-old Edward became the heir apparent to the throne. He was anointed and crowned as the king of England on February 20, 1547, at Westminster Abbey.

In accordance with Henry VIII’s will, King Edward had a Council of Regency to fall back on. The Council comprised 16 executors and 12 assistants to the executors, who would rule on his behalf.

King Henry VIII had not mentioned the appointment of a Protector in his will. However, the members of the Regency collaterally appointed King Edward’s uncle Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford as the Lord Protector of the Realm, Governor of the King’s Person, and Duke of Somerset.

Somerset’s military success in Scotland and France further reinforced his appointment as the Protector. In March 1547, he also secured from King Edward the monarchical rights to appoint members to the Privy Council.

The only hitch in Somerset’s autocratic rule was his younger brother Thomas Seymour who was hell-bent on acquiring power. However, due to the latter’s involvement with Lady Elizabeth, he was beheaded in 1549.

A competent military campaigner, Somerset could not add to his initial military success after his appointment as the Protector. He failed in his military pursuits against Scotland as his conquests became increasingly unrealistic. He had to withdraw from Scotland following a French attack in 1549.

Along with Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer Seymour was intent on converting England into a Protestant state. For the same, he even issued an English Prayer Book in 1549 under the ‘Act of Uniformity,’ forcing English people to follow it. The new Prayer Book excluded aspects of Roman Catholic practices and allowed the marriage of the clergy.

It was the imposition of the Prayer Book that led to rebellion in Cornwall and Devon in the summer of 1549. Furthermore, the upheaval instigated Kett’s rebellion against land enclosures in Norfolk. Adding to the turmoil was the French declaration of war on England.

Though militarily proficient, Seymour was too liberal to deal with Kett’s rebellion. It was John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, who intervened and suppressed the Norfolk rebellion.

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The events of 1549 marked a colossal failure of the government and Seymour, being the Protector, was held responsible for the same. Isolated by the Council, he was arrested in October 1549. Though Seymour was eventually released and re-admitted to the Council in 1552, he was executed on charges of felony.

In 1550, Seymour was succeeded by Dudley as the leader of the Council. Dudley was made Duke of Northumberland in 1551. Unlike Seymour, Dudley set up a working council, which he primarily used to legitimize his actions. Most of the members of the council were people from his faction; this enabled him to gain complete control over the Council.

Unlike Seymour’s policies, Dudley’s war policies earned him much criticism for being weak. He signed a peace treaty with France, upon realizing the lack of funds to support the cost of war. Tempted by quick profit, Dudley debased the coinage, which was eventually restored by Thomas Gresham.

Following King Edward’s illness in 1553, succession became a major cause of concern. According to the ‘Succession Act,’ Mary was the next rightful heir to the throne. However, King Edward opposed it by making a will, in which he passed over the claim to the throne from his half-sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, to his first cousin Lady Jane Grey. Jane Grey was married to Dudley’s younger son.

Major Works

Edward's reign saw radical progress in the Reformation. In his six years of supremacy, the Church transferred from an essentially Roman Catholic liturgy to a structure that was based on Protestantism. Also, it was under him that the Book of Common Prayer, the Ordinal of 1550, and Cranmer's Forty-two Articles were introduced.

Personal Life & Legacy

In 1543, Edward was betrothed to Mary, Queen of Scots. The betrothal was arranged by his father King Henry VIII, as a measure to keep up peace between England and Scotland after signing the ‘Treaty of Greenwich,’ which abandoned the alliance between Scotland and France. However, with the Scots repudiating the treaty, the betrothal was rejected.

In 1551, King Edward was betrothed to Elisabeth of Valois, daughter of King Henry II.

In January 1553, King Edward became sick with fever and cough which only worsened with time. He made his final public appearance on July 1, 1553.

On July 6, 1553, he breathed his last at Greenwich Palace. He was only 15 years old at the time of his death. On August 8, his body was buried in Henry VII Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey with the last rites performed by Thomas Cranmer, his confidante. Historians believe that tuberculosis led to his untimely death.

As per his will, he was succeeded by Lady Jane Grey, his cousin, and wife of the younger son of Duke of Northumberland. However, Jane’s reign lasted only nine days, after which Mary ascended the throne as the rightful heir.

Facts About Edward VI of England
Edward VI was known for his love of learning and intellectual pursuits, often spending hours studying and reading in multiple languages.
Despite his young age, Edward VI showed remarkable maturity and a strong sense of duty as he took his role as king seriously, actively participating in the governance of England.
Edward VI was a devout Protestant and played a significant role in advancing the English Reformation during his reign, promoting Protestant beliefs and practices.
As a patron of the arts, Edward VI was a supporter of music and literature, fostering a cultural renaissance in England during his reign.
Edward VI had a keen interest in science and technology, often engaging with leading thinkers of his time and promoting advancements in fields such as medicine and navigation.

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