I tend to feel a little sorry for Edward, the son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour. He never knew his mother and his father died when he was only nine years old. And although he was king of England and Ireland, he never actually ruled in his own right: he died when he was only 15 years old. And I don’t know that he holds as much interest for as many people as most of the other players in the Tudor period.
So let’s look at the basics of Edward VI‘s life first: although I wouldn’t normally use Wikipedia as a knowledgeable source, this version is quite comprehensive and well sourced.
I found the entry in Encyclopaedia Britannica very interesting, particularly when they talk about Edward actually being quite athletic until he became unwell with the disease that would cause his death in 1553. I don’t know about you, but I had always been led to believe that he was a sickly child from the start. This entry also maintains, as is commonly thought, that Edward was convinced by Northumberland to leave both of his half sisters out of the succession and to place Northumberland’s daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey, on the throne on his death. This cannot be in the name of Protestantism: Elizabeth was Protestant.
Another surprising piece of information I found was on the English Monarchs site: it maintains that Edward VI had poor eyesight! And , although he made a full recovery, he apparently had quartan fever when he was four years old.
All sources talk about the influence of Edward Seymour, his maternal uncle. He was appointed regent on Henry’s death and so had control of Edward, giving him great influence over the realm. His other maternal uncle, Thomas Seymour, married his step-mother, Catherine Parr, after his father died. This created a lot of conflict and drama for the young King Edward.
Edward VI is best known, however, for cementing Protestantism as the faith of England (under the name of The Church of England). He was the first monarch raised as a protestant so he was very staunch in his beliefs. An intelligent boy, Edward was extremely interested in religion and determined that the protestant belief system stayed. He was supported in this by the Seymours.
But perhaps the most useful insight into the life and times of Edward VI comes from History Extra. This article I found to be the most rounded and informative of the lot! entitled ‘Who was the Real Edward VI?‘, it looks at his education, the conflicts and the private life of the young king. If you read nothing else, you have to read this one!
Sadly, Edward VI died of tuberculosis at the tender age of 15. Who knows what type of monarch or man he may have turned out to be?