King Edward VI: His Life and Character
 By Sir Clements Robert Markham


It was a wintry morning. Edward and his sister Elizabeth were just sitting down to their studies at the manor house of Hertford, when two horsemen  galloped up to the door. These were the Earl of Hertford and Sir Anthony Browne, Master of the Horse. Both children were taken to Enfield that afternoon. Next day they were told that their father was dead, and Edward proceeded to the Tower with his uncle. He was knighted by the Earl of Hertford, and proclaimed King by the heralds at Westminster on January 31, 1547. His age was nine years, two months, and twenty days. The ruthless executioner was dead, and for a time his executions, or any imitations of them, were dead and buried. The young King's accession brought mercy in its train. Edward's aged godfather, the Duke of Norfolk, was saved by a hair's breadth.

Edward's first act was to write a Latin letter to his sister Elizabeth, lamenting their separation.[1]

On the day that the King was proclaimed, the executors were summoned to meet in the Council Chamber at the Tower. Thence they adjourned to the King’s presence, doing homage, and forming themselves into his Privy Council of twenty-eight members. They were to meet again next day, Hertford and Paget actively canvassing during the interval. On February 1st the Council met, and Paget proposed that Hertford should be Protector of the realm and Governor of the King's person during his minority. Wriothesley, the Chancellor, strongly opposed the measure as contrary to the late King’s will. It was probably illegal without the consent of Parliament. But the rest of the Council agreed. Shortly afterwards the Protector usurped still greater powers with approval of only a portion of the Councilors.

Paget then proceeded to inform the Council of what he said was the intentions of the late King respecting promotions and creations in the peerage.

In accordance with his announcement the Protector Hertford was made Duke of Somerset, Lord High Treasurer, and Earl Marshal. John Dudley Viscount Lisle received the title of Earl of Warwick in consequence of his descent from the Beauchamps Earls of Warwick, and was appointed Lord Great Chamberlain. Wriothesley, the Chancellor, was created Earl of Southampton. Parr became Marquis of Northampton, and Paulet, Earl of Wiltshire. Rich and Sheffield were created Barons. Sir Thomas Seymour became Lord Seymour of Sudeley and Lord High Admiral, and was given the castle and estate of Sudeley in Gloucestershire, which was crown property. The late King had given him Holt in Cheshire, and a large house near Temple Bar, which was called Seymour Place.

Wriothesley had been the only Councilor who protested against the Protectorate. Soon afterwards, on the excuse that he had committed some trifling informality, Somerset deprived him of the Chancellorship, which was given to Rich, and expelled him from the Council. He was allowed to resume his seat in the following year.

Edward was at the royal lodgings in the Tower for three weeks while arrangements were made for the coronation. The young King, on the auspicious occasion, created forty Knights of the Bath, and fifty-five Knights of the Carpet.[2] The former included five of  his old playmates, Henry Brandon Duke of Suffolk, his brother Charles, Edward Seymour, Lord Talbot, and Lord Maltravers.

On February 19 King Edward rode through the City to Westminster ' in most royal and goodly wise.' Sir Christopher Barker,[3] Garter King of Arms, arranged the pageant. In the picture of the procession3 Garter is riding with the Lord Mayor, between the Protector Somerset and the Emperor's Ambassador. There were various shows and diversions on the road. At the Conduit, in Chepe, Valentine and Orson were exhibited. Further on were Sapience and the seven liberal sciences, who made several goodly speeches. Next the play of Jason was shown and other diverting exhibitions. On reaching St. Paul's an Aragonese was seen to descend from the roof by a rope which was made fast to an anchor by the Dean's gate. At last the Palace of Westminsterl was reached, and the tired boy was got to bed in preparation for the great ceremony of the morrow.

Edward VI was the legal and rightful King of England by Act of Parliament. He had no other right. Since his time all our sovereigns have reigned by the same title and no other, whatever they may have pretended. Yet Edward had Plantagenet blood in his veins and was of legitimate royal descent through his mother.

On February 20, 1547, the little nine year old King went in procession to Westminster Abbey to be crowned. A stage or platform had been erected in front of the high altar. The Archbishop of Canterbury showed the King to the people at the four corners of the stage, saying:

'Sirs: Here I present King Edward, rightful and undoubted inheritor by the laws of God and man to the royal dignity and crown imperial of this realm, whose consecration,  inunction, and coronation is appointed by all the nobles and peers of this land to be this day. Will ye serve at this time and give your good wills and assents to the same consecration, inunction, and coronation as by your duty and allegiance ye are bound to do?'

The people shouted, 'Yea! Yea!  Yea! King Edward! King Edward! King Edward!'

The Archbishop, with the Bishops of London and Winchester, then led the King to the high altar. Then the King, after prayer, offered a pall and 24:1 in gold, which was delivered to him by the Lord Great Chamberlain. The little boy then fell groveling before the altar, while the Archbishop said over him the collect 'Deus humilium.' He then rose and went to his chair before the altar.

The Archbishop then proceeded to administer the oaths. 'Will you grant to the people of England the laws and liberties of this realm?' The King replied, 'I grant and promise.' 'You shall keep to the Church and people holy peace and concord.' He answered, 'I shall keep.' 'You shall make to be done, to the best of your strength and power, equal and rightful justice in all your dooms and judgments with mercy and truth.' He answered, 'I  shall do.' 'Do you grant to make no laws but such as be to the good of the commonwealth, and that the same shall be made by consent of the people?'  He said, 'I grant and promise.'

Then the King was led to the altar where he made a solemn oath upon the sacrament to observe the premises, in these words: 'The things which I have before promised I shall observe and keep, so God help me.'
The King again groveled before the high altar, while the Archbishop, kneeling by his side, began the 'Veni Creator Spiritus.' Then he said the ‘invocamus ' over the King.

The King was next set in the chair again, and, after a short rest, he was unclothed by the Lord Chamberlain to his coat of crimson satin, which, and also his shirt, was opened before and behind, on the shoulders and elbows, to be anointed. During the anointing Herbert and Denny held a pall over him. Kneeling, the Archbishop anointed the King in the palms of the hands, saying ' Unguo manus,' with the collect 'Respice Omnipotens Deus';  then on breast, back, elbows, and head, making the sign of the cross and saying 'Ungatur caput'; 'ungantur scapulae.' All the time the choir was singing 'Ungebant regem,' and the psalm 'Domine in virtute tua laetabitur Hex.' When the anointing was finished, Dr. Benson, the Dean of Westminster, who had formerly been the Abbot, came forward to dry all the places with wool.

The Archbishop then put on the King's hands a pair of linen gloves, a white tabard shaped like a dalmatic, and on his head a coif. Then the King took a sword and offered it to God, laying it on the altar, and taking it off again, to be redeemed from the Dean for 100 shillings and borne naked before the King.

Next followed the crowning, Edward, seated on the throne, was crowned by the Archbishop with the crown of St. Edward; all the peers and bishops doing homage, holding up their hands and saying:

'I become your liege man of life and limb and of earthly worship and faith and truth. I shall bear  with you to live and die against all manner of folks, as I am bound by my allegiance and by the laws and statutes of this realm, so help me God and  Allhallows.' Then each kissed the King's left cheek; and on their knees, holding up their hands, they said: 'We offer to sustain you and your crown with our lives and lands and goods against all the world. God save King Edward!'

This concluded the solemn ceremony of the coronation. The King heard high mass and departed crowned, in procession to the Palace of Westminster.

The coronation was followed by a feast in Westminster Hall, when the Champion, Sir R. Dymoke, threw down his glove. It was a long trying ordeal for a boy of nine years and a few months. On the following days there were jousts against all comers, and Lord Sudeley gave a grand entertainment to the competitors at Seymour Place.

After the coronation Edward returned to his studies with his tutors and young Barnaby. There was a change in his life notwithstanding. The royal household was kept up, with its numerous officers, henchmen or pages and attendants. The King's homes were now the palaces of Westminster, Hampton Court, Windsor, Greenwich, and Sheen. His favorite residence was in the country, at Oatlands in Surrey.

The Protector Somerset and his Duchess made the boy's life very uncomfortable. He was stinted in money, made to say for what he wanted it, and given half the sum he asked for. He was under constant espionage, and his Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber were adherents of Somerset, elderly intriguers who were not companions in any sense. The Chief Gentleman was Somerset's brother-in-law, Sir Michael Stanhope, who wore a medal suspended round his neck by a blue ribbon as a badge of office. The others were Sir John Thynne, the Steward of Somerset's household, Sir Richard Blount, Sir Henry Gage, Sir Maurice Berkeley. The termagant Duchess caused much trouble in the household. Among other disturbances she had a quarrel with the wife of Edward's tutor, and brought false accusations against Sir Thomas Smith. She and the Protector, who was completely under her influence,  prevented Edward from seeing the few relations he cared for, his favorite uncle, Thomas Lord Sudeley, his kind stepmother, the Queen Dowager, and  his sister Elizabeth, who was living with them. It was a great pleasure to young Edward when he heard of the marriage of Lord Sudeley with Catherine Parr, and he wrote them a letter with warm congratulations. But the Duchess hated them, because she had been foiled in an attempt to take precedence of the Queen Dowager. The Protector kept from Catherine the jewels left her by the late King, seized her favorite manor of Fausterne, and offended her in other vexatious ways. There can be little doubt that the malice of the Duchess is to be seen in these petty annoyances.  Edward's love for his relatives increased her hatred. The young King was exposed to much annoyance and discomfort, and certainly had every reason to dislike his elder uncle and his aunt-in-law.


Creations before 1547
Sir T. Howard (Duke of Norfolk).
Sir F. Talbot (Earl of Shrewsbury)
Sir E. Seymour (Earl of Hertford)
Sir J. Dudley (Viscount Lisle)
Sir H. Fitzalan (Earl of Arundel)
Sir Wm. Parr (Baron Parr of Kendal)
Sir Wm. Paulet (Baron St. John of Basing)
Sir Wm. Kingston (Constable of the Tower)
Sir Anthony Browne (Master of the Horse)
Sir T. Cheyney (Lord Warden of Cinque Ports)
Sir John Gage (Constable of the Tower)
Sir Anthony Wingfield (Captain of the Guard)
Sir Anthony St. Leger (Lord Deputy, Ireland)
Sir T. Wriothesley (Chancellor)

Creations by Edward VI
Sir Henry Grey (Marquis of Dorset).
Sir Thomas Seymour (of Sudeley)
Sir E. Stanley (Earl of Derby)
Sir F. Hastings (Earl of Huntingdon)
Sir H. Nevill (Earl of Westmorland)
Sir G. Brooke (Baron Cobham)
Sir T. West (Lord De la Warr)
Sir E. Fiennes (Lord Clinton)
Sir T. Darcy (Lord Darcy of Chich)
King Henry II of France.
Sir Wm. Paget (Lord Paget)
Sir Wm. Herbert (created Earl of Pembroke)
Sir Andrew Dudley, alias Sutton (Dudley's brother)


Sir Henry Brandon (Duke of Suffolk)
Sir Charles Brandon (Lord Charles)
Sir John Vere (Earl of Oxford)
Sir T. Butler (Earl of Ormonde)
Sir H. Fitzalan (Lord Maltravers)
Sir G. Talbot (Lord Talbot)
Sir E. Stanley (Lord Strange)
Sir Wm. Somerset (son of Earl of Worcester)
Sir Edward Seymour (Hertford's son)
Sir Gregory Cromwell (Lord Cromwell)
Sir John Grey (brother of Marquis of Dorset)
Sir F. Hastings (Earl of Huntingdon)
Sir H. Scrope
Sir T. Windsor (Lord Windsor)
Sir F. Russell (son of Lord Eussell)
Sir Anthony Browne of Cowdray
Sir E. Devereux (Lord Ferrers of Chartley)
Sir Henry Seymour (the King's uncle)
Sir John Gates (Chancellor of the Duchy)
Sir Anthony Cooke (one of the King's tutors)
Sir A. Umpton
Sir Valentine Knightley
Sir G. Norton
Sir Eobert Lytton (of Knebworth)
Sir George Vernon of the Peak
Sir J. Porte of Derbyshire
Sir T. Josselyn
Sir Edmund Molyneux
Sir Christopher Barker (Garter)
Sir James Holies of Notts
Sir William Babthorpe
Sir T. Brudenell
Sir T. Nevill of the Holt
Sir Angelo Marini (an Italian)
Sir J. Holcroft
Sir John Cuyt
Sir H. Tyrrell
Sir Wm. Sharrington (Mint Master)
Sir Wimond Carew
Sir Wm. Sneath


Sir Anthony Aunger
Sir Thomas Gravener
Sir Thomas Nevill
Sir John A. Eyce
Sir Thomas Grey
Sir Thomas Newman
Sir Barneston
Sir John Greville
Sir John Norton
Sir Thomas Bell
Sir Eice Gryffyth
Sir William Pickering
Sir Eoger Blewit
Sir Eoger Guilford
Sir George Pierpoint
Sir Urien Brereton
Sir Thomas Guilford
Sir William Bainaford
Sir George Brochet
Sir Thomas Hanmer
Sir John Eadcliff
Sir John Butler
Sir George Harper
Sir Edward Eogers
Sir John Butter
Sir Anthony Heveningham
Sir John Salisbury
Sir Philip Calthorp
Sir Thomas Hollers
Sir John Savage
Sir John Gary
Sir William Hollers
Sir Walter Savage
Sir Eichard Cotton
Sir John Horsey
Sir John Skelton
Sir Maurice Denis
 Sir John Horsey
Sir John Spring
Sir Harry Doyley
Sir Francis Inglefield.
Sir Humphrey Stafford
Sir Drury
Sir Thomas Kemp
Sir William Stanley
Sir Thomas Dyer
Sir Eobert Langley
Sir John Vaughan
Sir Thomas Fitzherbert
Sir Eowland Martin
Sir John Wentworth
Sir John Godsalve
Sir John Mason
Sir John Windham
Sir Thomas Wroth


The Protector Somerset must be credited with good intentions, and with dislike of the atrocious legislation of his late master. But his head was turned by his elevation, he showed a lamentable want of tact or judgment, treating the Council with disrespect, and seldom consulting them as a body. He ruled by a Committee of the Council of his own selection, consisting of Cranmer, the two time-servers Paulet and Parr, North and Wingfield. As a politician he was vacillating, as an administrator incapable.

The Protector's first political act was to make war on Scotland to enforce a betrothal between Edward and his cousin Mary. Thanks to his generals, Dudley Earl of Warwick and Lord Grey de Wilton, and to a timely charge by Sir Ralph Sadleir, the Protector won a complete victory at the battle of Musselburgh (or Pinkie of Commons, one for rebuilding tenements, another for maintaining tillage, and a third against regrating and forestalling markets. They were all rejected; but the matter was taken up by Somerset. He appointed a Commission modeled on that of Wolsey, and John Hales was one of the six Commissioners for the midland counties. They were to inquire into all changes since the death of King Richard III in 1485. But it was too late for peaceful measures to be of any use; especially without the consent of the Council. The enclosers were determined, and the people were exasperated. Somerset unwisely added fuel to the fire by declaring that the covetousness of the gentry had given the people occasion to rise,  and that it was better they should be fighting than perish for lack of living. This was an impossible position for the ruler of a country to take up, and Somerset's fall was inevitable. His rule lasted for two years and a little over eight months.


The execution of one of young Edward's uncles by the other is a very wretched story.

After the death of Henry VIII his widow lived in the jointure house at Chelsea, which was built in 1536. It had a large garden at the back. Here Thomas Lord Seymour of Sudeley used to pay her frequent visits. He was Lord High Admiral with much business to transact, and had a large house near Temple Bar, known as Seymour Place. The Princess Elizabeth was then living with the Queen Dowager.

Sudeley renewed his protestations of love for Catherine Parr, and persuaded her to marry him secretly in May 1547. The marriage was not made known until the end of June. The Somersets were furious, and the Protector commenced a system of vexatious and irritating annoyances, urged on by the  malice of his wife. Sudeley took Catherine's part and was very angry. He was also much aggrieved at being deprived of all authority in the government of his nephew, and even prevented from seeing him. He considered that if his brother was Protector of the realm he ought to be Governor  of the King's person.

Sudeley had many friends, and a few enemies. He was kind and considerate to the members of his household, who were devoted to him, notably Nicholas Throgmorton and John Harington. But, as Elizabeth said, though he had much wit, he had no judgment. He romped with that young lady to such an extent that Queen Catherine was obliged to send her away. He was also occupied with more serious affairs. He was as ambitious as his brother, and was resolved to enforce what he considered his right; besides resenting his exclusion from the society of his nephew. The Somersets intended to marry the King to one of their daughters. Sudeley was determined that this arrangement should not take effect. He selected Lady Jane Grey as the future Queen, and persuaded the Marquis of Dorset, by paying him 1000, to grant the ward hip of Jane to himself and the Queen Dowager. The little maiden was born at Bradgate in October 1.537, being exactly the same age as the King. At ten years of age she came to live with Catherine Parr, to whom she became much attached. She went with the Queen to Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire, and Catherine's little daughter was born there on August 24, 1548. The mother died of fever on the following September 5. Sudeley was absent, and little Lady Jane arranged about the funeral and was  the chief mourner.

Sudeley mourned for the loss of his wife, but was much pleased at the birth of a daughter. His mother, old Lady Seymour, took charge of Sudeley’s household, and John Harington was sent to Bradgate to obtain the consent of Jane's parents that she should still remain under his wardship. The consent was obtained, and Jane continued in Sudeley's household at Hanworth, or Seymour Place, until his arrest.

King Edward was no more disposed to submit to being forbidden intercourse with his favorite uncle than was that uncle himself. But, in his wretched position, his communications were necessarily secret. His young heart had yearned to his stepmother, and when she died he turned for affection to his uncle Thomas. A page of Edward's Privy Chamber, named John Fowler, managed to convey messages on little scraps of paper. The Somersets kept him destitute of money, which he often wanted, to reward or pay for services. His needs in this respect were supplied by Sudeley as soon as they were made known. Always injudicious, Sudeley advised his nephew to take upon himself to rule, and prepared a draft for him to sign, addressed to the Parliament and complaining of his treatment by the Protector. But Edward, who had more sense in his little finger than both his uncles put together in their whole bodies, at once saw the impropriety, and declined to sign the draft.

Sudeley proceeded to form a party both within and outside the Council, with a view to advocating his plans, or rights as he held them to be, if necessary, by force. While so engaged he was summoned before the Council and refused to attend. Soon afterwards he was arrested by Somerset's order and sent to the Tower. Somerset's party in the Council was busily engaged in getting up a case. They examined many witnesses, and questioned the Princess Elizabeth, her servants, the Marquises of Northampton and of Dorset, the Earl of Rutland, and many others, even the King himself. Edward answered them quite straightforwardly, for he and his uncle had done nothing of which they need be ashamed.

At last the enemies of Sudeley on the Council concocted an indictment consisting of thirty-three charges. They may be divided into four groups.  First, there are three irrelevant charges; second, eight relating to his communications with the King; third, twelve concerning his intrigues to form a party; and fourth, ten having reference to his conduct in his office of Admiral. The three charges in the first group were, that he married the late Queen privately and too soon after Henry's death, and that he wanted to marry the Lady Elizabeth, charges which involved neither treason nor criminality of any kind.

The charges relating to the Bang may be summed up as follows: (1) He went about to subvert the position of the Protector by indirect means; (2) got  the King to side with him by bribing his attendants; (3) drafted a letter for the King to sign with a view to causing dissension in Parliament; (4)  continued his purpose of putting disliking into the King's head; (5) tried to persuade him to take the management of his own affairs; (6) intended  to take the King's person into his own hands ; (7) told the King that if he lacked anything he should have it from him ; (8) and promised the  King's marriage.

These charges not only did not involve treason, but are evidence of devotion to the King's service. One of them is repeated twice, to spin out the charges - (1) and (4).

The charges relating to Sudeley's intrigues to form a party antagonistic to his brother are twelve in number. He is accused of: (1) speaking to  divers of the Council to take his side ; (2) saying that he would make the blackest Parliament that ever was in England; (3) laboring to induce  noblemen and others to go into their counties and make themselves strong; (4) setting noblemen to countervail other noblemen who would hinder him;  (5) advising certain men to win the favor of land yeomen who might raise men; (6) making his party stronger by gaining over stewards of noblemen's  lands; (7) retaining many young gentlemen and noblemen above the number allowed by law; (8) saying that he could raise adherents to the number of  10,000; (9) saying that he could get money to pay them for a month ; (10) disclosing secrets and arguing against the decisions of the Council; (11)  storing provisions at Holt; (12) and a refusing to come to the Council for examination when sent for.

These charges do not amount to treason. Somerset was not the King; indeed, the legality of his position was doubtful. The frivolity of some of the charges shows the shifts to which Somerset was put in getting up a case.

The most serious charges were the ten referring to Sudeley's administration of the Admiral's office: (1) He was accused of neglecting his King's  service; (2) of getting the Sicily Islands into his hands, and trying to get Lundy ; (3) of supporting Sir W. Sharrington knowing that he had  committed treason (4) of telling the Protector that Sharrington[4] owed him a large sum; (5) of extorting sums of money from merchant vessels; (6) of distributing goods of merchants to his friends  and servants; (7) of discouraging the capture of pirates ; (8) of letting pirates go free ; (9) of ordering goods not to be restored when the  Council had ordered their restitution; and (10) of encouraging wrecking. These charges look as if they were got up on the evidence of suborned witnesses. If they had been proved, some of them would have been serious. They would involve Sudeley's dismissal from the office of Admiral and a heavy fine, but not attainder and death.

Somerset's party in the Council came to the Tower to hear Sudeley's answers. He properly refused to be examined by enemies, reserving his defense until he was arraigned before a proper tribunal. Afterwards, fearing that his silence might injure his nephew, he replied to the charges having reference to his intercourse with the King. He said that the facts were true, but that the intentions were innocent. This is exactly what King Edward had said.

Sudeley's brother would not let him have a fair trial. He resolved to get him condemned without trial; and resorted to the odious methods by Bill of Attainder, one of the worst instruments used by Henry VIII in his judicial murders. The charges were put before both Houses with such evidence as Somerset and his friends had got together for the prosecution, but no defense was heard. The method was disliked, and there were speeches against it, especially in the Commons. But the bill was got through, and Sudeley was at the mercy of his brother.

The Protector could only get half the Council, including himself, to sign the warrant for execution. The other half did not sign. Lord Seymour of Sudeley was beheaded on Tower Hill on March 20, 1549. The Nemesis would come in six months.

An attempt has been made to free the Protector from responsibility by throwing it upon the Council. It is quite futile. Somerset alone gained by the death of his brother. He must have thought that he profited largely, for Sudeley was quite intractable and would always have been a thorn in Somerset’s side. It was not a gain to anyone else. Some of the Protector's friends in the Council may have gratified a private grudge; others may have been willing to help Somerset to kill his brother; a few may have believed the evidence, and held it to involve treason. But they did not gain anything. Somerset did. He was then in full power, and could have pardoned without hindrance; for he would have been supported by over half the Council, and by many friends of Sudeley in both Houses. He alone must bear the whole responsibility.

It must have been shocking, even in those days, to see the fratricide dragging his brother from the home of their aged mother, to slaughter him for his own ends. It is true that Somerset's character generally inclined him to leniency and moderation. But he was capable of shameful acts of injustice at the instigation of his wife. Such was the disinherison of his eldest son: and in the death of his brother we see the cloven foot under the petticoat of the vindictive Duchess.

The execution of his favorite uncle must have turned King Edward's dislike for the Somersets into a much stronger feeling.

Lady Jane Grey returned to her parents at Bradgate to resume her studies with Dr. Aylmer. The poor little infant of the Queen Dowager was stripped of all her valuables by the grasping Duchess, and sent, without any adequate provision, to Grimthorpe, to be taken charge of by the Duchess of Suffolk, on whom she had no claim. Her selfish uncle Northampton refused the charge.

Old Latimer preached a very cruel and unfeeling sermon about Lord Sudeley's end, probably dictated by resentment at his ministrations being rejected. It is not creditable to the preacher, who had never been in a position to know Sudeley intimately. We have a far more reliable estimate of the ill-fated nobleman's character from one of the devoted members of his household. If there was a plain-spoken and thoroughly honest-minded man in those days it was John Harington. Certainly no one had better opportunities of forming a judgment. He wrote these lines to place under a portrait of Lord Sudeley, with the approval of Queen Elizabeth.

Of person rare, stronge lymbes and manly shape.
By nature framed to serve by sea or lande,
In friendshippe firme in good state or ill-hap,
In peace headwise, in war skill great, bold hande,
On horse, on foote, in peryl or in playe
None could excell, though manie did assaye.
A subject true to Kynge, a servante great.
Friend to God's truth, and foe to Eome's deceit.
Sumptuous abroad for honour of the lande.
Temp'rate at home, yet kept great state with staye,
And noble house that fed more mouths with meat
Than some advanc'd on higher steps to stand.
Yet against nature, reason, and just laws,
His blood was spilt, guiltless, without just cause.[5]


The Protector's proceedings respecting the enclosures were too late. The insurrections broke out in several counties before he had expressed his approval of rebellion. In the spring of 1549 there were risings in Norfolk, in the midland counties to resist the enclosure proceedings, and in Devonshire for the restoration of the old religion. The people leveled the hedges, filled up the ditches, tore down the palings, and drove the deer. Warwick's park was ploughed up, and others were treated in the same way. All this was laid to Somerset's charge, and the great majority of the Council felt strong resentment against him. They took the matter into their own hands, and proceeded to put down the insurrections ruthlessly.

Lord Grey de Wilton and Herbert went to the midland counties and crushed the rising, hanging from their own steeples several of the clergy who had encouraged it. The two generals then went to help Russell in Devonshire, where there was great slaughter of the common people. Russell killed his prisoners and committed great cruelties, for which he received a rebuke from the Protector. The rebellion in Norfolk was more formidable, and was led by Robert Ket, a man of ability. The Council had brought over a troop of Italian horse under Malatesta, and a body of German Lanzknechts; and the incapable Northampton was sent against Ket, with Malatesta, and troops led by Lords Sheffield and Wentworth, Sadleir, Southwell, and Denny of the Council, Sir Gilbert Dethick (Norroy), Sir John Gates, Sir Thomas Paston, Sir Henry Bedingfield, Sir John Cutts, Sir William Waldegrave, Sir  John Cornwallis and others, altogether 1500 men. Northampton was defeated and put to flight by Robert Ket at Norwich, Cutts and Cornwallis being taken prisoners, and Lord Sheffield being among the slain.

The Earl of Warwick was on his way to Scotland, where the English garrisons were hard pressed. He was hastily recalled to retrieve Northampton’s disaster, and the Lanzknechts were sent to reinforce him. Altogether he mustered 8400 men. Warwick was accompanied by his gallant young sons, the eldest surviving Viscount Lisle, aged twenty, and his younger brothers Ambrose and Robert. There too were Lord Willoughby of Parham, Lord Grey of  Powys, Sir Marmaduke Constable, Sir Thomas Tresham, Sir Thomas Palmer, and Sir Edmund Knivett. Warwick was the ablest commander of his day; and in a very short time the rebels were defeated and scattered, and complete order restored.

Meanwhile the Protector's rule was becoming more and more ruinous to the country. He lost all the fortified places in Scotland, in September he had blundered into a war with France, in August 1549 he lost Ambleteuse and two other forts near Boulogne. Wars and losses abroad, insurrections at home, high prices and much poverty. The country was on the road to ruin.

Warwick returned from Norfolk on September 14. His town house was then at Ely Place. Russell and Herbert were on their way from Devonshire. These were the three ablest men on the Council. In the previous year one of the old nobility, the Earl of Shrewsbury, had been added to it. Somerset went with the King to Hampton Court on the 18th. The Protector had with him Archbishop Cranmer, Paget, the two Secretaries, Sir Thomas Smith and Petre,  his brother-in-law, Sir Michael Stanhope, Sir John Thynne, who managed his estates, and William Cecil, his private secretary.[6] In consequence of the gravity of the situation and the state of the country, the members of Council then in London, and some others, met at Ely Place. Many of them had been enraged at Somerset’s conduct respecting the enclosures. He had assumed powers beyond what had been conferred by the Council, and had acted in important matters without consulting it. He, therefore, was responsible for the condition of the country. But if, with their eyes open, they continued to retain such a helmsman, the responsibility would become theirs. Warwick, Southampton, Shrewsbury, Rich, the Chancellor, Wiltshire, Southwell, Peckham, Wotton assembled, soon afterwards joined by Sussex, Wentworth, Chief Justice Montagu, and Sir Ralph Sadleir. Much depended on the view taken by Herbert and Russell, who were on their way back at the head of their troops, after quelling the Devonshire rising.

The members assembled at Ely House unanimously agreed that Somerset's removal from the protectorate was inevitable. They addressed a letter to him proposing his resignation.

Somerset was taken completely by surprise. On October 4 he sent Secretary Petre to London as his envoy. Petre saw which was the winning side and did not return. Then Somerset lost his head. He began scattering leaflets abusing the Council, and ordered the King's subjects to come armed to Hampton Court to defend him. He sent couriers to Herbert and Russell summoning them to his aid. They replied from Wilton hoping to effect reconciliation, but naturally they were on the side of the rest of the Council. Somerset next resolved upon a flight to Windsor with the King. It  was a castle he might defend. This was in the night of October 6.

Somerset forced young Edward, who was in bed with a bad cough and cold, to start at 1 o'clock, riding through a cold autumn night to Windsor, where nothing was prepared for him. The boy must have seen that his uncle's first thought was for himself. The ride probably caused permanent injury to his health. Next day he was worse. On the 9th Warwick wrote to Edward's two sisters:

'The Protector has now taken His Majesty to Windsor late in  the night, in such sort as many declare that he maketh no great store of him. But God, we trust, will help us to deliver His Majesty out of his cruel and greedy hands.'

Somerset's resistance altered the kindly feeling of the Council at first entertained towards him. Sir Philip Hoby, the diplomatist, arrived at Windsor on the 7th with a letter signed.[7]   On the 8th Herbert and Russell declared for the Council. Next day Hoby returned with letters signed by thirteen of the Council[8] to the King, Cranmer, and Paget, accusing the Protector. Cranmer and Paget were told that they must either conform or share Somerset's fate. They deserted the Protector and submitted. Cecil appears to have foreseen the storm and to have provided for his own safety. Honest Sir Thomas Smith alone remained staunch. His conduct was bold and generous. When all the others deserted the fallen statesman, he remained loyal to the end: Among the faithless faithful only he.

On October 12 Sir Anthony Wingfield arrived at Windsor with full powers from the Council. He arrested Somerset and confined him in one of the Norman towers. Next day other members of the Council arrived. Edward's cold was worse. He welcomed them as deliverers. He had been taken from his own friends, and hurried away without any consideration for the state of his health. 'Methinks I am in prison,' he said to them. 'Here be no galleries nor gardens to walk in.' Warwick presented himself to the King, humbly on his knees. He 'explained the order and occasion of their doings,' and the King accepted the explanations in the most gracious manner.

The Duke of Somerset was brought through London as a prisoner, with his mortal enemy Southampton at his side. Sir Thomas Smith, Sir John Thynne,  Richard Paladye, the clerk of Somerset's works, his servants Whalley and Wolf, were committed with him, as well as Cecil, for a short time, to save  appearances. Paladye, Whalley, and Wolf were released on payment of a fine.

Somerset humbly confessed to all the accusations. He was released on February 6, 1550, on payment of a fine of 10,000, a fraction of his church  plunder. At first he had to live at Sion or Sheen, and not to go more than four miles from the house. But on the 18th he received a free pardon. On April 10th Somerset was restored to his seat on the Council. On May 14th he was made a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber. On the 27th his property was restored to him. On May 10, 1551, Somerset was made Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire and Berkshire.

The Council had no desire to bear hardly on the Duke. On the contrary their wish was evidently to make his position honorable, and such as was proper for the King's uncle. Least of all did Warwick refrain from showing cordiality and a desire for reconciliation. It would not have been possible to show this more clearly than by arranging a marriage between his handsome and accomplished eldest surviving son, Viscount Lisle, and Somerset’s daughter, Lady Anne Seymour.

If Somerset had remained satisfied, and he probably would have done so, but for his intriguing ambitious Duchess, all would have been well.


John Dudley, Baron de Somerie, Viscount Lisle, Earl of Warwick, and Duke of Northumberland, was a man of mark. He guided the destinies of England for three years and eight months. It was the happiest period of King Edward's short life, and an advancing time for the country. The work done was destroyed by Mary for a time, but only for a time. Yet hitherto historians have dealt out nothing but abuse to this remarkable and very able man.  He may have committed many faults in the last three years of his life. He was brought up in a bad school. He was as rapacious as Somerset. But, as has truly been said of the Emperor Tiberius, a man does not live to the verge of old age in high repute, and then suddenly become a monster without a redeeming virtue. This is the picture history draws of John Dudley. It conveys a false impression.

It will be worthwhile to glance at Dudley's origin. The Suttons were Lords of Sutton on the Trent, near Tuxford in Nottinghamshire. Roland de Sutton married one of the co-heiresses of the great family of Lexington in the time of Henry III, and had two sons, Robert and William de Sutton.  Robert was ancestor of the Barons Lexington. William's great-grandson, Sir John Sutton, married Margaret, daughter and heiress of Roger de Somerie, whose wife Hawis was heiress of Gervase de Paganel, Lord of Dudley Castle in Staffordshire. The son, succeeding to Dudley Castle, was summoned to Parliament in 1342 as the first Baron Sutton of Dudley.

The fourth Lord Dudley had two sons, Edmund and John. Edmund continued the line of Lords Dudley. John adopted the name of Dudley instead of Sutton.  John Dudley was settled at Atherington in Sussex. Here his son was born, and named Edmund after his uncle Lord Dudley. Edmund Dudley was on the Privy Council of Henry VII., negotiator of the treaty of Boulogne in 1492, and Speaker of one of the usurper's parliaments. He was a lawyer and diplomatist of ability, but was unpopular as the chief adviser in Henry's pettifogging and unjust methods of raising money. Upwards of 4,500,000 are said to have been amassed for the son to dissipate in wasteful extravagance. Dudley's death has already been discussed.

Edmund Dudley married Elizabeth, representative of the Viscounts Lisle. It is an interesting descent. In 1347 Gerard de Insula left a son, Warine Lord Isle, whose heiress married Lord Berkeley. Their daughter married Richard Beauchamp, fifth Earl of Warwick, and their heiress Margaret was the wife of the great Earl of Shrewsbury. The Earl's second son, John Talbot, was created Viscount Lisle of Kingston Lisle, in Berkshire, in the year 1451. His heiress, Elizabeth Talbot, married Sir Edward Grey, son of Edward Grey Lord Ferrers of Groby, descended through the Mowbrays from Edward I, and through the Ferrers from the great families of Clifford, Beauchamp, and Clare.

It may be mentioned that Sir Edward Grey. Viscount Lisle, was a brother of Sir J. Grey, who married Elizabeth Woodville, and uncle of the Marquis of Dorset, so that the Greys and Dudleys were cousins.

Sir Edward Grey, Viscount Lisle, had by Elizabeth Talbot an only child Elizabeth, the wife of Edmund Dudley, and inheritor of an illustrious descent. On her husband's death she was left with four little children, the eldest not eight years old, John, Andrew, Jerome, and a daughter, afterwards married to Lord Stourton. Lady Dudley, the widowed heiress of Viscount Lisle, married Arthur Plantagenet, one of the illegitimate sons of Edward IV., who was created Viscount Lisle in her right in 1523. He was many years Captain of Calais, and was likely to be a good step-father to the orphans.

John Dudley the eldest had a kind and vigilant guardian in Sir Edward Guilford, whose daughter he afterwards married. Guilford, by petition, obtained a special Act in favor of the Dudley children for the repeal of their father's unjust attainder.

Born in 1504, John Dudley was brought up to the profession of arms. He was in the French campaign of 1524, and was knighted by the Duke of Suffolk in his twentieth year. In 1528 he attended Cardinal Wolsey when he went on an embassy to France, and in 1530 he received the appointment of Master of the Armoury in the Tower. In 1540 Dudley was Master of the Horse to Anne of Cleves, and in the following year we find him a challenger at jousts against all comers.

The Seymours rose to greatness through their sister, Dudley through his own merits. With nearly twenty years of experience in courts and camps, he had won golden opinions and considerable influence. He made a study of the art of war, especially on the naval side, and Henry VIII, a good judge as regards administrative details, entertained a high opinion of his abilities. On the death of his step-father, Sir John Dudley was created Viscount Lisle in 1543, and advanced to the important dignity of Lord High Admiral. His age was then thirty-nine.

Lord Lisle's first service as Admiral was to convey an army from the Thames to the Scottish coast, and to land it at Leith. Next he took the command at Boulogne in 1545, and beat off the French forces by a bold and well-planned sally.

The French designed a great invasion of England in March 1545. There were assembled at Havre 250 ships and a large army. The country was in danger, and it was upon Lord Lisle that Henry relied. He was appointed General of all the forces by sea; and hoisted his flag on board the great ship of 1000 tons, named the Harry Grace a Dieu. Hired merchant ships, well-armed, were fitted out, those from the west country commanded by Carews,  Chichesters, and Clintons. Henry VIII, himself came to Portsmouth to be within consulting distance while the fleet was at Spithead.

The French were reported off the back of the Isle of Wight, and on July 18 their fleet anchored off Bembridge. The operations under Lisle’s direction, which followed, are of peculiar interest because a scheme for naval tactics was then first conceived. The French had squadrons of galleys from the Mediterranean, which attacked the English fleet at anchor at Spithead during a dead calm. But a breeze sprang up, and the fortune of the day was changed. Lisle, taught by this lesson, promptly fitted out a number of oared craft, galleys specially designed, to form the wings of his line of battle. His sailing fleet was in three squadrons: the first consisting of eight ships under Sir Peter Carew with his flag of St. George  at the fore; the second under Lisle's immediate command, with his flag at the main of the Great Harry, consisted of twelve ships; and the third was  composed of smaller armed merchantmen.

There was a disaster at Spithead. A fine ship of 600 tons, the Mary Rose, commanded by Sir George Carew, had been imprudently heeled over with her lower ports open. The water came in by them, and in a moment she capsized and sank.

Lord Lisle had been carefully considering how to force the French fleet at Bembridge to an action. Having matured his plan, he submitted it to Henry at Portsmouth. It came into his mind when a fresh breeze was blowing at Spithead from the west. He consulted the pilots whether, if the wind continued steady and increased to 'a course and a bonnet off,[9] the French could ride it out where they were at anchor. The pilots thought that they could. Lisle's next point was if the French ships saw the English fleet make sail and stand towards them, would they abide at anchor. The pilots considered that if they did they were lost. They, therefore, thought that the French, in that case, would get under way and abide the attack under small sail; but they must make a good offing to clear the Owers.

Lisle's views coincided with those of the pilots, and the plan would have brought the French to action. But there was delay owing to the necessity for consulting the King. Lisle wrote to him from his flagship on July 21, 1545, and Henry gave his consent. But the French had received warning from a spy, and made off. Lisle put to sea with his fleet. Baffled by light winds and calms, it was not until August 15 that he came in sight of the enemy off Shoreham. The Admiral was in great hopes of a decisive action. The French fleet was to windward, so he anchored his ships as a challenge to the enemy. But the French Admiral D'Aunebault declined battle, and fled to Havre. All Lisle's maneuvers were bold and judicious, showing a seamanlike instinct, and he was instrumental in saving England from a French invasion. Peace was signed on June 7, 1546.

Lord Lisle was a member of the Privy Council and one of the executors, and he was created Earl of Warwick in consequence of his descent from the Beauchamps, Earls of Warwick.

During Somerset's protectorate the Earl of Warwick did valuable service. As Lieutenant General he contributed largely to the victory at Musselburgh, and he put down the insurrection in Norfolk. His naval and other services have been told in some detail, because the general idea of Dudley appears  to be that he was an unscrupulous intriguer, as cunning as he was cruel, whose object was to bring poor innocent Somerset to the block. His life did not cover fifty years, and up to his forty-seventh year he was known as a very able and zealous public servant, a successful commander, and an admiral far above the average of those days. Men do not entirely change their natures at the age of forty-seven.

Dudley was married, in about the year 1530, to Jane, the daughter of his guardian, Sir Edward Guilford. He was blessed with a large family. He lost his eldest son Henry at Boulogne, in a sortie. John, the second, was 'a youth of great hope, and excellently well seen in the art military: one of the mirrors of his age for religion, learning, and military affairs.' The others were Ambrose, Robert, Guilford, and Henry; Charles and Thomas died young. His daughters were Temperance, who never married; Margaret, who died young; Catherine, who married the Earl of Huntingdon, but died  childless in 1595; and Mary, the wife of Sir Henry and mother of Sir Philip Sydney.[10] Dudley was a devoted husband, and a most affectionate father.  Canon Dixon, who has gone closer to those times than anyone living, thus sums up the character of Dudley:

'John Dudley was the ablest man of his time; a consummate soldier, a keen politician, a skillful administrator. Bold, sensitive, magnanimous. At  Norwich he bound his officers to conquer or die by the knightly ceremony of kissing one another's swords. He stopped further resistance and slaughter by riding alone into the ranks of the enemy and pledging his word for their lives. He was lenient after victory. He spared the life of Somerset as long as he could. He was a great man.'


John Dudley, Viscount Lisle, 1549 Earl of Warwick, 1551 Duke of Northumberland; married Jane, daughter of Sir Edward, sister and heiress of Sir  Henry Guilford.

  • I. Sir Henry, slain at Boulogne 1544.
  • II. John (after 1551 called Earl of Warwick), married Anne Seymour. 'A young man of great hope, and excellently well seen in the art military. One of the mirrors of his age for religion, learning, and military affairs." He was King Edwards Master of the Horse. He died in prison a few weeks after the execution of his father; childless. Sentenced to death.
  • III. Ambrose, sentenced to death during the Marian terror. In 1562 Queen Elizabeth made him Earl of Warwick. He first married Anne Whorwood, secondly Elizabeth Talboys, but both died before 1562; thirdly, Anne, daughter of F. Russell, Earl of Bedford; childless.
  • IV. Eobert, Gentleman of the Privy Chamber to Edward VI. He first married Amy Robsart in 1551. Sentenced to death with his brothers. 1564 created Earl of Leicester. He married secondly Douglas Howard, widow of Lord Sheffield, and had a son, the famous Sir Eobert Dudley.[11] He married thirdly Lettice, daughter of Sir Francis Knollys, the Queen's cousin, widow of the first Earl of Essex. He died September 4, 1588.
  • V. Charles, died young.
  • VI. Thomas, died young.
  • VII. Guilford, born 1535. Married in May 1553 to Lady Jane Grey. Slaughtered in the Marian terror February 1554.
  • VIII. Henry, married to Margaret, heiress of Thomas Lord Audley, Baron of Walden. He was slain at St. Quentin in 1558. His widow married the Duke  of Norfolk.
  • IX. Temperance, never married.
  • X. Margaret, died young.
  • XL Catherine, married Henry Hastings Earl of Huntingdon; childless. She died 1595.
  • XII. Mary, married to Sir Henry Sydney, faithful friend and Gentleman of the Chamber to Edward VI. Lord Deputy of Ireland under Queen Elizabeth,  and K.G. Died 1586. His children were: (1) Sir Philip Sydney, mortally wounded at Zutphen, 1586; (2) Mary, Countess of Pembroke; (3) Eobert, created Viscount Lisle, and 1618 Earl of Leicester. He died 1626, leaving (1) Mary, married to Sir Eobert Wroth; (2) the second Earl of Leicester,  married Lady Dorothy Percy, and had (1) Philip third Earl of Leicester; (2) Henry Earl of Eomney; (3) Algernon Sydney, the Patriot, judicially  murdered 1683; (4) Dorothy Countess of Sunderland, 'Sacharissa.'


On the abolition of the protectorate the Privy Council resumed its legal position as a council of regency with its members administering the various departments of State, and general questions of policy being decided at the Council Board. Somerset ceased to be a member, and four retired, Sir Thomas Smith, Denny, Southwell, and Peckham. The Earl of Southampton died. Arundel and Paget were out for some time, but were eventually restored to their seats.

It was wisely decided that an attempt should be made to have more interests represented on the Council, and especially that the old nobility ought no longer to be left out. Besides Arundel and Shrewsbury, the Marquis of Dorset, the Earls of Westmorland and Huntingdon, Viscount Hereford, and Barons Clinton, Cobham, and Darcy took their seats at the Board. The other new members were Sir John Gates, Sir Robert Bowes, Dr. Goodrich, Bishop  of Ely, who became Lord Chancellor in succession to Lord Rich, the diplomatists Sir Philip Hoby and Sir John Mason, and Sir William Cecil, Petre's  new colleague as Secretary of State. The whole number was increased to thirty-five.

There were promotions and creations in the peerage. John Dudley Earl of Warwick became Duke of Northumberland,[12] and Henry Grey Marquis of Dorset was made Duke of Suffolk. Paulet Earl of Wiltshire was promoted to be Marquis of Winchester. Russell was made Earl of Bedford, and Herbert Earl of Pembroke. Paget was Lord Paget of Beaudesert, Darcy Lord Darcy of Chich, Willoughby became Lord Willoughby of Parham, and Lord Ferrers of Chartley received the Viscounty of Hereford. William Cecil, the new Secretary, Dr.  Cheke, the King's Tutor, Henry Sydney, one of the Chief Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber, received the honor of knighthood.

One of the first proceedings of the Council was to repay themselves for their expenses during the insurrections, a very discreditable and unpatriotic claim to press; with the country on the verge of ruin.

Yet there was a great change for the better. The King was well served by his departmental officials, admirably by his very able diplomatists, with zeal and diligence by his secretaries, with laborious care and enthusiasm by his divines, not so well by his judges. There must necessarily be a guiding head to form the general policy and steer the ship of State; and Northumberland was by far the ablest man on the Council. He was much too wise to seek the title of Protector or any ostensible pre-eminence over his colleagues. His influence gained him real power. He was supported steadily by Pembroke, Shrewsbury, Bedford, Winchester, Suffolk, and Northampton, and the others followed. The policy of the Council in general questions was the policy of Northumberland. Arundel and Paget for a time offered an ineffective opposition. But the master mind was Northumberland’s, and for three years and eight months the gallant admiral steered the country as he had commanded the fleet, ably and resolutely according to his lights.

The first need of the country, in the ruined and defenseless condition to which the Protector's misrule had reduced it, was peace. Northumberland made the first overtures through an Italian, who offered his services, named Antonio Guidotti. Negotiations were opened, and peace was signed on March 24, 1550. Boulogne was a useless encumbrance, and by the former treaty it was to be restored in eight years from 1546. Only half the time had elapsed. It was now agreed to restore it at once, on payment by the French of 40,000 crowns. Hostages were appointed on each side, until the terms of the treaty were fulfilled. This gave occasion for the feting of Frenchmen in London, and of Englishmen in Paris. The latter included the eldest sons of Dudley, Somerset, Shrewsbury, and Bedford. Sir John Mason, a time-server with enlightened views respecting free trade, went as ambassador  to the Court of Henry II.[13] He was succeeded in 1551 by Sir William Pickering, who is described  as an able statesman, a ripe scholar, an elegant courtier, and an uncommonly handsome man 'of tall stature and dignified presence.'

The French ambassadors for the ratification of the treaty, Chastillon, Mortier, and Buchatel, were lodged at Durham House, and were cordially entertained by King Edward, as will appear more fully in its place. Afterwards a stately embassy went to Paris to invest Henry II. with the Garter.  The Marquis of Northampton was the ambassador, attended by other English nobles, Chancellor Goodrich being the orator. A few months later Edward VI was invested with the order of St. Michael.

This peace represented a wise and far-seeing policy. An entente cordiale with France was a fixed idea with Edward VI, as it was with our wisest sovereigns, Queen Elizabeth and the Protector Oliver, and as it is with Edward VII.

The government of the Council was strong and firm, though sometimes tyrannical. There was no vacillation. The laws had to be obeyed. Northumberland had adopted the policy of establishing a Protestant Church. He had no strong religious convictions, and when his own end came, and he needed religion, he turned to that of his youth. He acted entirely from the point of view of a statesman, and took the course which appeared best for the country. With his eyes open lie finally broke with Mary, the Emperor, and Spain, and cultivated the French alliance. Seeing young Edward so full of life and energy, though delicate, he never seems to have brought the boy's death into his calculations until it was too late.

In 1552 the Parliament authorized the new Prayer Book and passed an Act of Uniformity. There were also Acts for the relief of the poor, for fasts and holidays, against simony and usury, and for the suppression of Henry's unnecessary bishopric of Westminster. The Council saw that the laws were enforced. If the Bishops would not obey they were sent to prison. Gardiner of Winchester found himself in the Tower, Bonner of London was sent to the Marshalsea. Their sees were made vacant and ruled by Dr. Ponet and kind-hearted Ridley, who allowed Bonner's aged mother to remain in the bishop’s palace. Tunstall of Durham and Day of Chichester were also proceeded against and imprisoned. King Edward interfered in favor of Dr. Day, the friend of his tutor. Somerset had caused an inventory of church plate to be made. The Council went further, and appointed Commissioners to  seize the plate and valuables in all churches. It was a monstrous act of pillage. The chantries were also appropriated for the King's use; yet, apart from these high-handed measures, the good work of the Reformation was making progress.

The fortifications and the navy had been alike neglected. Northumberland at once proceeded to take steps to remedy the evil, and the young King, who had studied the subject, took a special interest in the repairs and plans. A survey of the works at Calais and Guisnes led to designs which were sanctioned for improving the haven, and repairing the fortified line. Edward gives the details in his Journal. The works at Berwick also received attention.

The navy was placed in the efficient hands of Lord Clinton. Ships were ordered to be refitted and commissioned to keep the narrow seas and put down piracy. Charles V. became an enemy of the English Government, threatening reprisals if his Cousin Mary's mass priests were molested. He prepared a squadron of ships under a commander, called Scipperus in Edward's Journal, to watch the eastern coasts. But England now had a very able admiral at the head of affairs, as well as an efficient admiral in command of the navy. They were quite able to deal with Scipperus. All the ships in Gillingham Water were commissioned, rigged, provided with ordnance, and made ready for sea. Another smaller squadron was sent after pirates.

It was intended to devote the 40,000 crowns paid by the French to the forts and the navy. But the financial situation was most serious. The evil inheritance of a debased currency left by Henry's misgovernment was causing ruin and distress, and no one had as yet proposed an efficient remedy.  In 1545 the precious metal had been reduced by Henry VIII to the lowest degree of fineness that ever disgraced the English Mint. Gold should be of twenty-three carats. It was reduced to twenty carats. The tyrant was deliberately cheating his people by welshing. His successors found an enormous quantity of base gold and silver in circulation, and its redemption seemed impossible. Of course prices rose enormously, and there was much distress. The executors continued the methods of their former master. The alloy was even increased and money was borrowed. They issued 40,000£ in coin with three-quarters alloy. The only remedy was to call it all in, and re-coin. At last the Council resolved to resume the coining of money at a pure tandard, and Henry's system of peculation was not again resorted to. Young Edward took a very special interest in the restoration of the currency, and studied the subject with care.

The Council carefully provided for their own security. In a new Treason Act the offence was against the Council during the minority, as well as against the King; but, on the other hand, not only was no one to be attainted without two witnesses, but the witnesses were to be brought face to face with the accused.  The Council also raised 900 men for their own protection, which was called a gendarmerie. In a few more years, in October 1555, the young King would reach his majority. Alas! for the disappointment of such bright hopes.

THE COUNCIL, 1549-1553

Dr. Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury. (Tudor and new nobility.)
Dr. Tunstall, Bishop of Durham.
Dr. Goodrich, Bishop of Ely, Lord Chancellor.(Signed the Letters Patent for Jane to be Queen.)
Montagu, Chief Justice.
Bromley, Judge.  (Sat on Somerset's trial)
John Dudley, Viscount Lisle, Earl of Warwick, Duke of Northumberland,
William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, Master of the Horse, E.G
Russell, Earl of Bedford, Lord Privy Seal. 
Grey, Marquis of Dorset, Duke of Suffolk, K.G.   
Paulet, Marquis of Winchester, Lord High Treasurer, KG.
Parr, Marquis of Northampton, Lord Chamberlain, K.G.S
Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel, K.G.
Nevill, Earl of Westmorland, E.G.
Hastings, Earl of Huntingdon, E.G.
Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, E.G.
Fiennes, Baron Clinton, Lord High Admiral, E.G.
Paget, Lord Paget of Beaudesert, E.G.
Brooke, Lord Cobham, E.G.
Darcy, Lord Darcy of Chich, Chamberlain of the Household, E.G.
Ferrers, Lord Ferrers of Chartley, Viscount Hereford.1 Sir Anthony Wingfield (died 1552), Controller of the Household, E.G.
Sir Edward North (Court of Augmentations).1 s Sir John Baker, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Speaker.  
Sir Anthony Browne, E.G.
Sir John Gage, Constable of the Tower, E.G.   
Sir Ralph Sadleir, Master of the Wardrobe.
 Sir John Mason, Secretary for the French tongue.
Sir Thomas Cheyney, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, E.G.
Sir Philip Hoby, Diplomatist.
Lord Rich, former Chancellor, superseded by Dr. Goodrich
Sir John Gates, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
Sir Eobert Bowes (representing the City), Master of the Bolls
Dr. Wotton, Dean of Canterbury, Diplomatist.
Sir William Petre, and Sir William Cecil,  Secretaries of State.
William Thomas,2 Clerk of the Council.



The fall of Somerset made a great change in the young King's position. Apart from his studies with Dr. Cheke, which he enjoyed, he had led a wretched life during the last two years. Prevented from intercourse with those who were nearest and dearest to him, stinted as regards money, under constant espionage by the terrible Duchess, cross-examined with the object of getting up charges against his favorite uncle, seeing that uncle condemned and executed, forced, when very ill, to leave his bed and ride through a cold autumn night, and feeling, as he told the Council, as if he was a prisoner, young Edward must have rejoiced when the ' protection ' came to an end.

When the Council resumed their proper functions Edward was first allowed to feel that he was the King. Treated with respect and deference, his wishes were consulted with regard to the household appointments. His tutor was knighted, his beloved friend Barnaby, though still very young, was sworn as a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber. Edward now felt that he was a King with responsibilities, and that attention would be paid to his wishes. He was in his thirteenth year. It was natural that the man who was chiefly instrumental in making this great change should win the young King’s affection and trust. This may have been Northumberland's object. There was certainly wisdom in the course he took.

Among older men, the Marquis of Winchester, Lord Darcy of Chich, Sir Thomas Wroth, the King's cousin's husband, Sir E. Rogers, his mother's cousin, Lord Wentworth, were specially appointed to be in attendance. There can be no doubt that Edward was consulted in the selection of these officials, and that at least three were nominated by him.

King Edward entered upon various duties, not the least important being the reception and entertainment of distinguished visitors. His many engaging qualities made him an ideal prince in the performance of these duties. His first guests were the French ambassadors. On July 19, 1550, they supped with His Majesty, who afterwards took them to see a dozen courses run. On the 20th he took them out hunting with his hounds, and then to some target practice, where they saw him shoot, and all his guards shoot together. M. de Chastillon dined with the King, heard his Majesty play on the lute, and afterwards supped with him. On the 27th Edward again took the ambassadors out hunting, and on the 28th he took them to see some coursing in Hyde Park, and entertained them at dinner there. On another day Edward amused them with sports at Hampton Court, and on the river, where there were displays of wild fire thrown out of boats, and many other pretty conceits. The ambassadors had invested the King with the Order of St. Michael on July 17, and in return the King had entertained them right royally.

Edward's next experience in the regal reception of a visitor was when Mary of Guise, the widow of his cousin, James V, having a safe-conduct to pass through England to Scotland, landed at Portsmouth to see the young King. Edward ordered her to be welcomed with royal hospitality. She was received at Sir Richard Cotton's house, next at Cowdray by Sir Anthony Browne, where the gentlemen of Sussex met her, and next at Guildford, where she was received by the gentlemen of Surrey. The Queen Dowager of Scotland journeyed thence to Hampton Court. At two and a half miles from the palace a splendid cavalcade awaited her, consisting of members of Council, gentlemen of the Privy Chamber, and 120 gentlemen of the county. At the palace gate were the Countess of Pembroke and sixty other ladies, who conducted her to her apartments.

During that night, and all the next day, Edward entertained Mary of Guise with dancing and pastimes. On the second day she was taken over the palace and grounds, and saw some coursing of deer.

On November 2 Mary of Guise was taken to the lodgings provided for her in London, in the Bishop's Palace, when she was received by the Earls of Warwick and Wiltshire, eldest sons of Northumberland and Winchester.

On the 4th was Edward's grand reception of the Scottish Queen Dowager at the palace of Westminster. A gorgeous cavalcade escorted her, including the Duchess of Richmond, Edward's cousins Frances and Margaret, Lady Jane Grey, the Countesses of Arundel, Bedford, Huntingdon, and Rutland, and about a hundred others. The Duke of Northumberland and Earl of Pembroke awaited her at the gate, and the King, surrounded by his Council, met her  in the hall and conducted her to the presence chamber, guards lining the walls on both sides. A state dinner followed. The queen dined with Edward, on his left hand, under the same cloth of estate. Behind her dined Edward's two cousins, Frances and Margaret.[14] Behind the King sat the French Ambassador. There were two cupboards, one loaded with gold plate four stages high, another full of massy silver in six stages. After dinner there was some music. Then the King conducted his guest to the hall in the same order, and she departed.  Next day the Lord Steward, the Lord Treasurer, and the Lord Privy Seal waited upon her to deliver a diamond ring and two palfreys as tokens from the King.

On the 6th Mary of Guise left London in great state. Her escort consisted of the Duke of Northumberland with a band of 100 men, forty in black velvet and white sleeves, and sixty in cloth; of the Earl of Pembroke with his band of fifty men, of the Earl of Wiltshire with fifty men of his father’s band, all the pensioners and men at arms, the King's cousin Margaret, the Duchesses of Northumberland and Richmond. They brought the Queen by Cheapside and Cornhill to Shoreditch. There she was met by one hundred gentlemen of Middlesex, and so she was conveyed to Scotland, being met at  each boundary by an escort of the gentlemen of the county.

The courtesy and regal bearing of young Edward on these occasions aroused general admiration and a feeling of loyalty, with fond hopes for the future. All seemed full of promise.

But this year 1551 was a sad one for the King. He had to mourn the loss of two dear friends and companions. Their mother was the Duchess of Suffolk, Lady Willoughby d'Eresby in her own right. Though her mother was a Spaniard, and the life-long friend of Catherine of Aragon, the Duchess was an ardent Protestant. She was a lady of infinite wit, a friend of young Edward, and a friend and frequent correspondent of Sir William Cecil.  She was devoted to her two sons, Henry Brandon Duke of Suffolk and Lord Charles Brandon. When they went to Cambridge she lived there to be near them, and became a friend of the learned Bucer. Before the coronation King Edward had created his two Brandon playfellows Knights of the Bath. The elder is described as having a calm, gentle, and reflective mind, while the younger was of a bold and martial spirit. One would have been Edward’s Minister; the other would have commanded his armies. They had just written funeral orations on the death of their old friend Bucer. The Duke was fifteen, and his brother Charles fourteen.

In 1551 the sweating sickness broke out at Cambridge. The Duchess was ill in London. The two boys, with a young friend named George Stanley, were hurried off to a village called Kingston about five miles from Cambridge. A few hours after their arrival young Stanley died. The Brandon boys were then sent to Bugden, a house belonging to the Bishop of Lincoln. They were received by their cousin, Lady Margaret Nevill. They supped with her on the evening of their arrival. The young Duke said 'Where shall we sup to-morrow evening?' 'With me, I trust,' Lady Margaret replied. He answered, ‘No, never shall we sup again together.' The Duchess hurried to Bugden, and five hours afterwards both boys were struck down with the fatal sickness. They were in separate rooms. At the moment the Duke expired, Charles said 'My brother is dead.' He followed the same night, July 16, 1551.

Overwhelmed with grief, the Duchess retired to Grimthorpe, her seat in Lincolnshire, whence she wrote a resigned letter to Cecil dated September 1551. In course of time she married a very old friend, and a friend of her boys, Mr. Richard Bertie. Persecuted by Mary, the Duchess and her husband escaped abroad, and she became the mother of Peregrine Lord Willoughby, Elizabeth's diplomatist and general.

Mr. Bertie wrote some Latin verses on the deaths of Henry and Charles Brandon, which Lady Georgina Bertie thus rendered into English:

Oh ye I who lately struck the mournful chord
Of funeral woe, and Bucer's loss deplored,
Who shed the precious balm of youthful tears
O'er him whose hoary head was crowned with years.
Are ye all silent now? And can it be
That both are thus cut off, by fate's decree!
Yet blind necessity has not struck the blow
That laid the blossoms of our hopes so low.
Though short to us, their lives for them too long
Who changed an earthly for a heavenly song,
And left th' endearments of a mother's love
For sweeter commune still in realms above.
Oh! in those glorious courts where sorrows cease,
Souls of the pure and blest, forever rest in peace.


Edward's religious education had been most carefully conducted. He had been taught all that was pure and good in the Catholic worship of his ancestors, while he was impressed with the urgent need for rooting out the more recent errors and corrupt practices in what he was taught to call ‘papistry.' The seed fell on good ground, and the young King was un-feignedly devout, and anxious in all ways to forward the cause of Gospel truth.

Among his councilors he saw little to encourage him. They were engaged in pillage, destruction, and self-seeking. Church property, when confiscated, belonged to the State, to be used for State purposes. But it was appropriated by the unprincipled statesmen forming the Council. One line in the King's Journal sums up the character of their proceedings:

'Covent Garden and Long Acre were given to the Earl of Bedford, June 10, 1552.'

It is true that there were honest and saintly men among the clergy. The Archbishop of Canterbury, though weak and vacillating, was a fervent seeker after truth, and a true lover of his country. He promoted the dissemination of Gospel truth, and revised editions of the Bible were published by Grafton, from 1539 to 1553.[15]  Good old Cranmer was hard at work completing the Book of Common Prayer. He had learned assistance, but it was mainly his own production, and his hand is apparent throughout. Cranmer gave our Liturgy that spiritual life and beauty which have secured the love and reverence of all future generations. His alterations were only made when it was absolutely necessary. He had a loving tenderness and care for all that was really Catholic in the old forms. He strove only to uproot the tares. Many of the prayers were very beautiful translations from the Breviary. The First Prayer Book of King Edward was completed in 1548.

Cranmer earnestly desired that all the Protestant communities should agree, and he sought help and advice from abroad, which was perhaps a mistake.  Learned divines were invited to come to England.

Martin Bucer was born at Strassburg in 1491 was a Dominican monk and studied at Heidelberg. He was convinced that the Church needed reform, and became a disciple of Luther and a strong opponent of popery. He came to England at Cranmer's invitation, and was chosen Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, where he died in February 1550.

Peter Martyr was born at Florence, his family name being Vermigli. He studied Greek at Padua, became an Austin Canon and a celebrated preacher.  Having mastered Hebrew as well as Greek, he held the appointments of Abbot of Spoleto and Principal of the College of St. Peter at Naples. Biblical studies convinced him of the errors of popery, and in 1542 he went to Switzerland, and declared himself a Protestant; afterwards filling the theological chair at Strassburg. Accepting an invitation to come to England, Peter Martyr was made Professor of Divinity at Oxford, and a Canon of Christ Church.

John Alasco or Laski was a Polish nobleman, born in the castle of Laski in 1499. His uncle was the Primate of Poland, and he was educated in the Archiepiscopal Palace at Cracow. He was with his uncle at the Lateran Council, and took his degree at Bologna. In 1523 he was at Basle where he met Erasmus, and lived for a year in his house. He was Bishop of Vesprin and Archdeacon of Warsaw; but in 1538 he embraced the Protestant religion and became pastor of a congregation at Emden. Alasco was a reformer of the extreme Swiss school. At Cranmer's invitation he came to London in 1550, and was superintendent of a congregation of foreign Protestants, organized on the Presbyterian model. Alasco took Hooper's view about vestments. He visited Bucer at Cambridge, and had great influence at the Court of Edward VI. The church of Austin Friars in London was granted to his congregation in July 1550.

Cranmer was prevailed upon by these foreign divines, and by the more advanced Protestants among his own countrymen, to undertake the revision of the Prayer Book of 1548. Oil in confirmation, extreme unction, and prayers for the dead were set aside, and some other alterations were made. The second Prayer Book of King Edward was established by Act of Parliament in January 1552 and the Articles of Religion in the following year. We owe it to Cranmer that our Church remained a true branch of the Catholic Church ; that all that was good in the ancient traditions was retained; and  that tolerance and forbearance distinguish the Anglican Church from all sectarian dissenters. All who love our beautiful liturgy must revere the name of Cranmer. It is his imperishable monument.

The Calvinists and Presbyterians were as cruel and intolerant as the Papists, though all their claws are now cut. The Anglican Church is nearest, among all the modern forms of Christianity, to the divine original.

Young Edward took a keen interest in the religious work of Cranmer, and was a close student of divinity. We have from his pen a compilation on idolatry from the Scriptures, written in French, now preserved in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge. He also wrote his views on the  papacy,[16] and on faith.

During Lent of each year special sermons were preached before the King on Sundays. Some were by Ridley, the excellent and kind-hearted Bishop of London. Another preacher was honest old Hugh Latimer. A pulpit was set up in the King's privy garden at Westminster, and the whole Court attended.  Latimer always said the Lord's Prayer before the sermon, to inculcate it into the memories of the people. His sermons were plain and very  practical. He was absolutely fearless, and he denounced the evils around him without regard to rank or position. What he thought and believed he said, and flattery from such a man was impossible. We may, therefore, accept what old Latimer says of Edward as what he was convinced to be the truth.

'Blessed be the land, saith the Word of God, where the King is noble. What people are they that say, "the King is but a child "? Have not we a noble King! Was there ever King so noble? so godly, brought up with such noble counsel, such excellent and well learned schoolmasters? I will tell you this. I speak it even as I think. His Majesty hath more godly wit and understanding, more learning and knowledge at this age than twenty of his  progenitors, that I could name, had at any time of their lives.'

Latimer gave excellent and patriotic advice, especially that all boys and men should be taught the art of shooting. 'It is a gift of God,' he urged,

'that He hath given us to excel all other nations. Withal it hath been God's instrument whereby He hath given us many victories against our enemies. I desire ye, my Lords, even as ye love the honor and glory of God, and intend to remove His indignation, let there be sent forth some  proclamation, some sharp proclamation to the Justices of Peace, for they do not their duty. Charge them, upon their allegiance, that this singular benefit of God may be practiced. In my time my poor father was as diligent to teach me to shoot, as to learn any other thing, and so I think other men did their children.'

Latimer also boldly preached against corruption among judges and officials. The proof of his persuasive eloquence is in the result. He urged corrupt officials to make restitution, declaring that bribes were taken, that the King was robbed, and that the guilty ones would go to the devil if his denunciations were not attended to. The guilty listeners were conscience-smitten. One came privately to Latimer after the sermon and paid him £340. Latimer gave it to the Council. Next year the same man brought £183. Latimer refused to betray him; but he continued to preach against bribery and corruption. He next denounced the Mint, and this induced Sharrington, Master of the Mint at Bristol, to make restitution. The old man was a true and faithful servant of his Master and a stirring preacher of His word.[17] 

Edward had only one occasion for showing his hatred of cruelty, and his determination not to countenance religious persecution. Joan Boucher persisted in some heretical opinion, and the Council wanted to burn her. The King positively refused his consent. They sent Cranmer to him, and, after long resistance, he only yielded to the Archbishop's importunities because he was a minor, throwing all the blame before God on his advisers.

This was not Edward's way of extirpating false doctrine. He desired that a good catechism should be prepared for the instruction of the rising generation at schools and colleges. His old tutor, Dr. Cox, had been transferred from the Deanery of Christ Church to that of Westminster in 1549.  Through him the King became acquainted with the headmaster of Westminster School, Dr. Alexander Nowell, who was 'very famous for religion and learning,' and introduced the reading of Terence among the Westminster boys. Nowell was also a good angler, fishing in the river near his living of Much Hadham. The headmaster composed a catechism, which Edward said 'was made by a certain pious and learned man, and presented to me.'

He ordered it to be taught in all schools.

King Edward wished all ancient rules to be modified so as to be in conformity with the reformed religion, including the statutes of the Order of  the Garter. Ashmole tells us that 'he went about to alter and reform such things in the statutes as seemed inconsistent with the religion he had  established.[18] Annual chapters were held  on April 23, generally at Greenwich, and Committees of Revision were appointed. Several drafts were prepared, Edward himself taking great interest  in the matter. He composed a draft of the revised statutes in Latin,1 and on March 17, 1553, the new statutes were published.

There was a committee of learned divines and lawyers to codify the ecclesiastical laws. The young King also took great interest in the promotion of  education. Although he did not found and endow twenty schools in different parts of the country, as Strype supposed, yet some schools were founded  in his reign : one at Coventry by John Hales. Christ's Hospital, St. Thomas's Hospital, St. Bartholomew's Hospital were endowed, and the palace of  Bridewell[19] was given up as a home for  the reform of vagrants and disorderly persons.

A great advance was certainly made in religion, education, and charity during this young King's short but memorable reign.[20]

Under Mary: five Bishops burnt, six deprived, four escaped abroad, & nine complied. 

[1] Strype, Eccl. Mem. II. Pt. ii. p. 510
[2] Now called Knights Bachelors
[3] The picture of  Edward VI.'s procession through the City was at Cowdray. It was burnt in 1793; but previously the Society of Antiquaries had caused an engraving to  be taken from it, which was published in 1797
[4] Sharrington was pardoned by the Council; so, on their own showing, this was  a venial offence.
[5] Written by John Harington in 1567. Nuga Antigua, ii. p. 327
[6] Cecil's  grandfather was David Cecil, a water bailiff to Henry VIII. His father, Richard, was a yeoman of the wardrobe. William entered the household of the Duke of Somerset, and was present at the battle of Musselburgh. He became the Protector's private secretary. Cecil thought of his own safety first, the interests of his master a bad second, and his country third. But he cared for all, was a man of great ability and vast industry, and a most  valuable public servant. At St. John's, Cambridge, he became the warm friend of Dr. Oheke. After Somerset's fall Cecil was made a Member of Council and Secretary of State. He bowed to the storm under Mary to become Elizabeth's famous Minister
[7] Warwick, Rich, Wiltshire, Northampton, Arundel, Shrewsbury, Cheyney, North, Gage, Sadleir, Southwell,  and Petre signed the letter of October 7th by twelve members of the Councill on the same day, returning with replies from Cranmer and Paget.
[8] All these signed the letter of October 9 except Warwick, and Baker and Montagu in addition
[9] Equivalent to a double-reef topsail breeze
[10] The ancient title of Lisle passed through the Dudleys,  Sydneys, and Shelleys to the present Lord de Lisle and Dudley
[11] Unjustly kept out  of the earldom of Leicester by James I. and his corrupt Judges. Robbed of Kenilworth. He was a great navigator. Lived at Florence
[12] Percy Earl of Northumberland  was then under attainder
[13] Henry II. of France succeeded his father, Francis I., in 1547. Henry was born at St. Germains on March 31, 1518. In  October 1543 he married Catherine de Medicis, and had five sons and three daughters. King Edward VI. was godfather to the third surviving son,  afterwards Henry III., born in 1551. Henry II. was killed by accident in 1559
[14] Duchess of Suffolk and Countess  of Cumberland
[15] In Edward's first Parliament Communion in both kinds for the laity was enacted (November 4, 1547). The first  Prayer Book •was printed in June 1548
[16] Thirty-seven leaves, with quotations from Scripture in the margins. Begun December 13, 1547; finished March 14, 1548
[17] Latimer's seven Lenten sermons, preached before the King in  1549, were published in 1549. There have since been many editions, the latest by the Parker Society, 1844
[18] Catechixmus brevis Christiana disciplines summam continent. a Ashmole'a Order of the Garter, p. 194
[19] There is a portrait of King Edward on his throne granting the charter of his palace of Bridewell to the citizens of London. Sir  George Barne, the Lord Mayor, is kneeling to receive the charter. Dr. Goodrich, Bishop of Ely and Lord Chancellor, is on the King's right; Sir Robert Bowes, Master of the llolls, and the Earl of Pembroke on the left. The picture was engraved by Vertue in 1750
[20] Many letters, which must have been of great interest, passed between young Edward and Oranmer. Richard Morice, the Archbishop's secretary, preserved them; but his house was rifled during the Marian terror, and the letters were destroyed. Only two were preserved, which are given by Fox

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