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King Edward VI
Edward Tudor.jpg
Biographical Information
Real Name: Edward Tudor
Title: Edward VI of England
Reign: 28 January 1547 – 6 July 1553
Coronation: 20 February 1547
Predecessor: King Henry VIII
Successor: Mary Tudor
Lady Jane Grey‏‎ (disputed)
Born: 12 October 1537
Death: 6 July 1553
Age: 15
Religion: The Church of England
House: House of Tudor
Gender: Male Male.png
Height: 5'6
Originally From: Hampton Court Palace, England
Parents: King Henry VIII (Father)

Jane Seymour (Mother)

Family: Queen Mary Tudor (Half-Sister)
Queen Elizabeth (Half-Sister)

Henry Fitzroy (Half-Brother)
King Philip (Brother-in-law)
King James V (Cousin)
Queen Mary (Second-Cousin)
James Stuart (Second-Cousin)
Lady Jane Grey‏‎ (Second-Cousin)

COD: Tumour
Burial: Westminster Abbey, London England
TV Character Information
Signature: Edward Tudor signature.png
First appearance: Season Three
Portrays: Edward Tudor

Edward Tudor (Edward VI) (12 October 1537 – 6 July 1553) was King of England and Ireland from 28 January 1547 until his death. He was crowned on 20 February at the age of nine. The son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, Edward was the third monarch of the Tudor dynasty and England's first monarch raised as a Protestant. During Edward's reign, the realm was governed by a Regency Council because he never reached his majority. The Council was first led by his uncle Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, (1547–1549), and then by John Dudley, 1st Earl of Warwick, from 1551 Duke of Northumberland.

Edward's reign was marked by economic problems and social unrest that, in 1549, erupted into riot and rebellion. An expensive war with Scotland, at first successful, ended with military withdrawal from Scotland as well as Boulogne-sur-Mer in exchange for peace. The transformation of the Church into a recognizably Protestant body also occurred under Edward, who took great interest in religious matters. Although his father, Henry VIII, had severed the link between the Church of England and Rome, Henry VIII had never permitted the renunciation of Catholic doctrine or ceremony. 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. The architect of these reforms was Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, whose Book of Common Prayer is still used.

In February 1553, at age 15, Edward fell ill. When his sickness was discovered to be terminal, he and his Council drew up a "Devise for the Succession", attempting to prevent the country's return to Catholicism. Edward named his first cousin once removed, Lady Jane Grey, as his heir and excluded his half-sisters, Mary and Elizabeth. However, this decision was disputed following Edward's death, and Jane was deposed by Mary within 13 days. As queen, Mary reversed Edward's Protestant reforms, which nonetheless became the basis of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement of 1559.

Early Life

Edward was the son of King Henry VIII by his third wife, Jane Seymour. Throughout the realm, the people greeted the birth of a male heir, "whom we hungered for so long", with joy and relief. Queen Jane, appearing to recover quickly from the birth, sent out personally signed letters announcing the birth of her son. Edward was christened on 15 October, with his half-sisters, the 21-year-old Lady Mary as godmother and the 4-year-old Lady Elizabeth carrying the chrisom. His mother, however, fell ill on 23 October from presumed postnatal complications, and died the following night.

Edward was a healthy baby who suckled strongly from the outset. His father was delighted with him; in May 1538, Henry was observed "dallying with him in his arms ... and so holding him in a window to the sight and great comfort of the people". That September, the Lord Chancellor, reported Edward's rapid growth and other accounts describe him as a tall and merry child. At the age of four, he fell ill with a life-threatening "quartan fever", but, despite occasional illnesses and poor eyesight, he enjoyed generally good health until the last six months of his life.

Until the age of six, Edward was brought up, as he put it "among the women". Henry demanded exacting standards of security and cleanliness in his son's household, stressing that Edward was "this whole realm's most precious jewel". Visitors described the prince, who was lavishly provided with toys and comforts, including his own troupe of minstrels, as a contented child.

From the age of six, Edward began his formal education under Richard Cox and John Cheke, concentrating, as he recalled himself, on "learning of tongues, of the scripture, of philosophy, and all liberal sciences"; He received tuition from Elizabeth's tutor, Roger Ascham, and Jean Belmain, learning French, Spanish and Italian. In addition, he is known to have studied geometry and learned to play musical instruments, including the lute and the virginals. Edward's religious education is assumed to have favoured the reforming agenda.

Both Edward's sisters were attentive to their brother and often visited him – on one occasion, Elizabeth gave him a shirt "of her own working". Edward "took special content" in Mary's company, though he disapproved of her taste for foreign dances; "I love you most", he wrote to her in 1546. In 1543, Henry invited his children to spend Christmas with him, signalling his reconciliation with his daughters, whom he had previously illegitimised and disinherited. The following spring, he restored them to their place in the succession with a Third Succession Act, which also provided for a regency council during Edward's minority. This unaccustomed family harmony may have owed much to the influence of Henry's new wife Catherine Parr,of whom Edward soon became fond. He called her his "most dear mother" and in September 1546, wrote to her: "I received so many benefits from you that my mind can hardly grasp them."

Other children were brought to play with Edward, including the granddaughter of Edward's chamberlain, Sir William Sidney, who in adulthood recalled the prince as "a marvelous sweet child, of very mild and generous condition". Edward was educated with sons of nobles, and Barnaby Fitzpatrick, son of an Irish peer, became a close and lasting friend. Edward was more devoted to his schoolwork than his classmates and seems to have outshone them, motivated to do his "duty" and compete with his sister Elizabeth's academic prowess. Like his father, Edward was fascinated by military arts, and many of his portraits show him wearing a gold dagger with a jeweled hilt, in imitation of Henry.


On 1 July 1543, Henry VIII signed the Treaty of Greenwich with the Scots, sealing the peace with Edward's betrothal to the seven-month-old Mary, Queen of Scots. The Scots were in a weak bargaining position after their defeat at The Battle of Solway Moss the previous November, and Henry, seeking to unite the two realms, stipulated that Mary be handed over to him to be brought up in England. When the Scots repudiated the treaty in December 1543 and renewed their alliance with France, Henry was enraged. In April 1544, he ordered Edward's uncle, Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, to invade Scotland and Seymour responded with the most savage campaign ever launched by the English against the Scots. The war, which continued into Edward's reign, has become known as "The Rough Wooing".

The nine-year-old Edward wrote to his father and stepmother on 10 January 1547 thanking them for his new year's gift. By 28 January 1547, Henry VIII was dead. Those close to the throne, agreed to delay the announcement of the king's death until arrangements had been made for a smooth succession. Edward was brought to Enfield, where Lady Elizabeth was living. He and Elizabeth were then told of the death of their father and heard a reading of the will. The new king was taken to The Tower of London, for safe keeping. The following day, the nobles of the realm made their obeisance to Edward at the Tower, and Seymour was announced as Protector. Henry VIII was buried at Windsor on 16 February, in the same tomb as Jane Seymour, as he'd wished.

Edward VI was crowned at Westminster Abbey four days later on Sunday 20 February. On the eve of the coronation, Edward progressed on horseback from the Tower to the Palace of Westminster through thronging crowds and pageants, many based on the pageants for a previous boy king, Henry VI. After the service, Edward presided at a banquet in Westminster Hall, where he dined with his crown on his head.

As King Edward's uncle, Thomas Seymour demanded the governorship of the king's person and a greater share of power. Somerset tried to buy his brother off with a barony, an appointment to the Lord Admiralship, and a seat on the Privy Council—but Thomas was bent on scheming for power. He began smuggling pocket money to King Edward, telling him that Somerset held the purse strings too tight, making him a "beggarly king". In the Spring of 1547, using Edward's support to circumvent Somerset's opposition, Thomas Seymour secretly married Henry VIII's widow Catherine Parr, whose Protestant household included the 11-year-old Lady Jane Grey and the 13-year-old Lady Elizabeth.

In summer 1548, a pregnant Catherine Parr discovered Thomas Seymour embracing Lady Elizabeth. As a result, Elizabeth was removed from Catherine Parr's household and transferred to Sir Anthony Denny's. That September, Catherine Parr died in childbirth, and Thomas Seymour promptly resumed his attentions to Elizabeth by letter, planning to marry her. Elizabeth was receptive, but, like Edward, unready to agree to anything unless permitted by the Council. In January 1549, the Council had Thomas Seymour arrested on various charges, including embezzlement at the Bristol mint. King Edward, whom Seymour was accused of planning to marry to Lady Jane Grey, himself testified about the pocket money. Lack of clear evidence for treason ruled out a trial, so Seymour was condemned instead by an Act of Attainder and beheaded on 20 March 1549.

After a crushing victory at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh in September 1547, The Scots allied with France, who sent reinforcements for the defence of Edinburgh in 1548, while Mary, Queen of Scots, was removed to France, where she was betrothed to the dauphin, Prince Francis. The cost of maintaining the Protector's massive armies and his permanent garrisons in Scotland also placed an unsustainable burden on the royal finances. A French attack on Boulogne in August 1549 at last forced Somerset to begin a withdrawal from Scotland.


In February 1553, Edward VI became ill, and by June was in a hopeless condition. The king's death and the succession of his Catholic half-sister Mary Tudor would jeopardise the English Reformation, and Edward's Council and officers had many reasons to fear it. Edward himself opposed Mary's succession, not only on religious grounds but also on those of legitimacy and male inheritance, which also applied to Princess Elizabeth. He composed a draft document, headed "My devise for the succession", in which he undertook to change the succession, most probably inspired by his father Henry VIII's precedent. He passed over the claims of his half-sisters and, at last, settled the Crown on his first cousin once removed, the 16-year-old Lady Jane Grey, who on 25 May 1553 had married Lord Guilford Dudley from the House of Dudley

In his document Edward provided, in case of "lack of issue of my body", for the succession of male heirs only, that is, Jane Grey's mother's male heirs, Jane's or her sisters'. As his death approached and possibly persuaded by Northumberland, he altered the wording so that Jane and her sisters themselves should be able to succeed. Yet Edward conceded Jane's right only as an exception to male rule, demanded by reality, an example not to be followed if Jane or her sisters had only daughters. In the final document both Mary and Elizabeth were excluded because of bastardy, since both had been declared bastards under Henry VIII and never made legitimate again, this reason could be advanced for both sisters. The provisions to alter the succession directly contravened Henry VIII's Third Succession Act of 1543 and have been described as bizarre and illogical.

Lady Jane Grey, who was proclaimed queen four days after Edward's death In early June, Edward personally supervised the drafting of a clean version of his devise by lawyers, to which he lent his signature "in six several places." Then, on 15 June he summoned high ranking judges to his sickbed, commanding them on their allegiance "with sharp words and angry countenance" to prepare his devise as letters patent and announced that he would have these passed in parliament. His next measure was to have leading councillors and lawyers sign a bond in his presence, in which they agreed faithfully to perform Edward's will after his death. 21 June, the devise was signed by over a hundred notables, many of them later alleged that they had been bullied into doing so.

It was now common knowledge that Edward was dying, and foreign diplomats suspected that some scheme to debar Mary was under way. The diplomats were certain that the overwhelming majority of the English people backed Mary, but nevertheless believed that Queen Jane would be successfully established.

Edward became ill during January 1553 with a fever and cough that gradually worsened as his organs shut down. Edward felt well enough in early April to take the air in the park at Westminster and to move to Greenwich, but by the end of the month he had weakened again. After getting even sicker, his legs became so swollen that he had to lie on his back, and he lost the strength to resist the disease. To his tutor he whispered, "I am glad to die".

Edward made his final appearance in public on 1 July, when he showed himself at his window in Greenwich Palace, horrifying those who saw him by his "thin and wasted" Edward died at the age of 15 at Greenwich Palace at 8pm on 6 July 1553. According to John Foxe's, his last words were: "I am faint; Lord have mercy upon me, and take my spirit". He was buried in the Henry VII Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey on 8 August 1553. Edward's burial place was unmarked until as late as 1966, when an inscribed stone was laid in the chapel floor by Christ's Hospital school. The inscription read: "In Memory Of King Edward VI Buried In This Chapel This Stone Was Placed Here By Christ's Hospital In Thanksgiving For Their Founder 7 October 1966".

The cause of Edward VI's death is not certain. As with many royal deaths in the 16th century.


Lady Mary was last seen by Edward in February, and was kept informed about the state of her brother's health. Aware of Edward's imminent death, she left Hunsdon House, near London, and sped to her estates around Kenninghall in Norfolk, where she could count on the support of her tenants. Northumberland delayed the announcement of theThe Tower of London on 10 July. On the same day, she was proclaimed Queen in the streets of London, to murmurings of discontent. The Privy Council received a message from Mary asserting her "right and title" to the throne and commanding that the Council proclaim her queen, as she had already proclaimed herself. The Council replied that Jane was Queen by Edward's authority and that Mary, by contrast, was illegitimate.

Northumberland soon realised that he had miscalculated drastically, not least in failing to secure Mary's person before Edward's death. Although many of those who rallied to Mary were conservatives hoping for the defeat of Protestantism, her supporters also included many for whom her lawful claim to the throne overrode religious considerations. On 14 July Northumberland marched out of London with three thousand men, reaching Cambridge the next day; meanwhile, Mary rallied her forces at Framlingham Castle in Suffolk, gathering an army of nearly twenty thousand by 19 July.

It now dawned on the Privy Council that it had made a terrible mistake. On 19 July the Council publicly proclaimed Mary as Queen; Jane's nine-day reign came to an end. Northumberland proclaimed Mary himself—as he had been commanded to do by a letter from the Council was beheaded on 22 August, shortly after renouncing Protestantism. His recantation dismayed his daughter-in-law, Jane, who followed him to the scaffold on 12 February 1554, after her father's involvement in Wyatt's rebellion.


Family Tree

King Henry Tudor VII
Elizabeth of York
Arthur Tudor
Catherine of Aragon
King Henry Tudor VIII
Anne Boleyn
Mary Tudor
Margaret Tudor
Mary Tudor
Elizabeth Tudor
Frances Grey
King James Stuart
Lady Lennox
Lady Jane Grey
James Stuart
Mary Stuart
Lord Darnley

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