Edward VI of England Biography

Edward VI served as the King of England, from 1547 until his death in 1553. Check out this biography to learn in details about his life, his works as a king and timeline

Quick Facts

Birthday: October 12, 1537

Nationality: British

Famous: Emperors & Kings British Male

Died At Age: 15

Sun Sign: Libra

Also Known As: Eduard al VI-lea

Born in: Hampton Court Palace

Famous as: King of England

Died on: July 6, 1553

place of death: Palace of Placentia

Cause of Death: Tuberculosis

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

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King 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 next King of England was obvious 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. Since he was extremely young to reign in real, 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 after his approval. 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 has formed the basis for English Church practices till date. Intellectually bright and talented, his health had constantly been a matter of contention. In 1553, he died from tuberculosis.

Childhood & Early Life
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.
  • Conferring to Henry VIII’s will, King Edward had a Council of Regency to fall back on, comprising of 16 executors and 12 assistants to 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 for power. However, due to the latter’s involvement with Lady Elizabeth, he was beheaded in 1549.
  • A competent military campaigner, Somerset’s initially successes did not go any further after his appointment as the Protector. Contrastingly, he failed in the 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 Crammer, Seymour was intent on converting England into a Protestant state. For the same, he even issued an English Prayer Book in 1549 under an Act of Uniformity which enforced English people to follow it. The new Prayer Book excluded aspects of Roman Catholic practices and in turn 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 the Kett’s rebellion. It was John Dudley, Earl of Warwick who came in and supressed the Norfolk rebellion.
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  • The events of 1549 marked a colossal failure of the government and Seymour was held responsible for the same, being a Protector. Isolated by the Council, he was arrested in October 1549. Though Seymour was eventually released and re-admitted into 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, Dudley’s war policies earned him much criticism for being weak and puny. 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 the expert Thomas Gresham
  • Following King Edward’s illness in 1553, succession became a major point of contention. According to the Succession’s 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 who in turn had married 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, all of which form the basis of the English Church practices till date.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • In 1543, Edward was first betrothed to Mary, Queen of Scots by his father, King Henry VIII, as a measure to seal peace between England and Scotland after signing of the Treaty of Greenwich which abandoned the alliance between Scotland and France. However, with Scots repudiating the treaty, the betrothal was also rejected.
  • In 1551, King Edward was betrothed to Elisabeth of Valois, daughter of King Henry II.
  • In January 1553, King Edward became increasingly 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 then. On August 8, he was buried in Henry VII Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey with the last rites performed by Thomas Crammer, his confidante. Historians believe that contraction of tuberculosis led to his untimely death.
  • As per his will, he was succeeded by Lady Jane Grey, his cousin and wife of younger son of Duke of Northumberland. However, Jane’s reign lasted for only thirteen days after which Mary ascended the throne as the rightful heir.
  • This King of England kept a journal of his reign wherein he wrote a detailed overview of his time in power.

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Edward VI of England

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