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Saturday, 13 December 2014

Edward VI of England

Edward VI was the son of Henry VIII of England and Jane Seymour. The birth of Edward on October 12, 1537 was difficult, and his mother died 12 days after his entry into this world.

Prince Edward in 1539, by Hans Holbein the Younger

He became king when Henry VIII died on January 28, 1547. The first Protestant ruler of the age of 9, because he was so young, the realm was governed by a Regency Council.

Edward VI was crowned at Westminster Abbey on February 20, 1547.  As Edward was only nine years old at the time, the coronation ceremony was reduced from 12 to 7 hours long. The boy king’s golden throne also had to be boosted with two cushions.

At the coronation service, Archbishop Cranmer affirmed the royal supremacy and called Edward a second Josiah, urging him to continue the reformation of the Church of England, "the tyranny of the Bishops of Rome banished from your subjects, and images removed."

Edward as Prince of Wales, 1546. 

Edward VI  had two regents. For the first two-and-a-half years of his reign, the boy king's uncle, Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset,  was Lord Protector and advised and guided Edward. Somerset was replaced by John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland.

Henry VIII had allowed Edward to be educated by convinced Protestant tutors in sympathy to his sixth wife, Catherine Parr's Protestant inclinations. As a result the boy king was a staunch Protestant.

King Edward, was said to have read twelve chapters of scripture daily and enjoyed sermons, and was commemorated by John Foxe as a "godly imp."

Edward's reign is mainly remembered for the changes made to the Church of England while he was king. His Archbishop, Thomas Cranmer, wrote the Book of Common Prayer in English rather than Latin, so the. common person could now understand what was being said. They were intended to be the basis for worship throughout the Anglican Church.

Edward's Act of Uniformity enforced the use of the Book of Common Prayer and outlawed the Mass. Priests did not have to dress in the bright clothing associated with the Catholic Church and they were also allowed to marry.

Edward had a long pointed face with fine features, dark eyes and a small full mouth.

Edward VI forbade the cult of saints and destroyed images and idols in churches. Under his rule the English Reformation blossomed.

Edward had never been a healthy boy and he died on July 6, 1553 of tuberculosis when he was 15 and a half years old.

After the death of Edward VI, the powerful Duke of Northumberland plotted to exclude the rightful successor to the throne, the king’s Catholic sister Mary. Edward's cousin the devout 15-year-old Protestant Lady Jane Grey was installed instead but she was executed nine days later.

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