Born: 12th October 1537, Hampton Court Palace
Son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour
Reigned: 1547- 1553
Died: 6th July 1553, Greenwich Palace
Buried: 8th August 1553, Westminster Abbey
The only legitimate son of Henry VIII, Edward automatically became his rightful heir from birth. His life began tragically with his mother, Jane Seymour’s death when he was only 12 days old. Edward’s heartbroken father was comforted by finally having the son he had yearned for.
Becoming King as a minor was a challenge for Edward and the nation. Henry died in January 1547 when Edward only nine-years-old. A regency council was formed to rule on his behalf until Edward came of age. However, Edward’s maternal uncle, the Duke of Somerset who was power-hungry made himself protector and took the opportunity to manipulate the situation to his advantage. Along with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, a strongly protestant Church of England was formed with a new English Prayer Book relased in 1549.
The introduction of this new prayer book greatly upset ardent Catholics and discontent began brewing in Devon and Cornwall. Full-scale rebellion followed around the cournty and Somerset was unable to quashy the largest of the rebellions, Kett’s, in Norfolk. This subsequently led to his arrest and execusion. He was replaced in all but name by the Duke of Northumberland whom imposed stricter religious changes to the church, including removing alters for tables and statues and iconography were removed. This was made law under the Act of Uniformity in 1552.
Edward’s role as King had been minimal owing to his age and sadly in early 1553 his health was in decline. Northumberland took advantage of this by forcing Edward to declare his daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey, Edward’s distant cousin as his heir. He did this, making an emendment to his will to incline Jane.
Edward died in July 1553 at the age of 15. He had not fully ruled for himself and the drastic religious changes made to the counrty were unlikely to have been his decision. upon his death, Lady Jane Grey became Queen for all of nine days before she was overthrown by the rightful heir, Mary.
Edward was buried in Henry VII Lady Chapel in Westminster Abbey.