Edward VI• Remember that though Edward was a child he was expected to become King in his own right and in fact would have done so had he lived another four months.• G. R. Elton described him as ‘easily swayed by cunning men, he exercise such little influence’. However, more recent historians like Jennifer Loach argue that Edward needs to be viewed as more than a boy-king.• Edward’s diary – written from the age of 12 – reflects his position as a monarch who though young was very well informed about the day to day business of government• However, this chronicle must be viewed with caution because it is likely that it was not intended as a private document and therefore may have been written with an audience in mind.
Edward’s upbringing• Like his father he spent his early years largely in the company of women.• Only Catherine Parr had any relationship with him.• Henry saw him infrequently and Edward’s tutors reported to the king’s ministers rather than the father himself• He had a large retinue along with a personal protection detail (8 men)• He was not permitted to engage in hunting, jousting etc
Edward’s personality• His own chronicle points to a cold, distrustful and times vindictive individual – he had little contact with his sisters and few close friends• Edward was a serious, studious child with only glimpses of the natural enthusiasm of youth• He was well-educated with knowledge of history, geography and the scriptures – he was also expected to read Greek and Roman classics. In addition he was expected to learn six languages• His education was a reflection of the times. His humanist teachers schooled him in statecraft and government as well as religion, the economy and knowledge of the main members of the nobility and gentry (down to their religious beliefs)• The myth that Edward was always a sickly child emerged from his early death but beyond typical childhood illnesses Edward’s health was generally good. He rode and enjoyed outdoor pursuits (albeit as a spectator)
Edward’s GovernmentNeeds to be seen as two periods of time:• 1547-1549 with Somerset as Lord Protector• 1550-1553 with Northumberland as Lord President of the CouncilEdward Seymour - Earl of Hertford (1537) andlater Duke of Somerset (1547)John Dudley – Earl of Warwick (1547) and laterDuke of Northumberland (1551)
Edward’s first government• Somerset ignored Henry VIII’s intentions to create a regency council to rule and had himself declared Lord Protector• During Somerset’s years Edward had little direct involvement with government (he was only 12 when Somerset fell from power) but he still had influence.• When Somerset retreated to Windsor Castle in 1549 as power slipped from his grasp, he took Edward with him. Support from the young king could have restored his authority but Edward chose to abandon him, complaining of the cold conditions in the castle.• Edward actively damaged his uncle’s position, claiming Somerset had threatened riots were he to lose his position. Somerset could not defend himself against such accusations - the word of the king could not be questioned. The result was his swift fall from power• Somerset had been strict with his nephew and failed to establish a relationship with Edward - Edward complained about a lack of pocket money.
Edward’s second government• After 1549 Edward assumed a much more significant role in government.• By 1551 Edward was attending some privy council meetings and was preparing memoranda for those meetings• Edward’s had a thorough understanding of politics. He was beginning to take the lead in some matters and had opinions on most others.• This level of awareness was reflected in the council’s decision to bring forward Edward’s maturity to his 16th birthday.• Northumberland consulted Edward and ensured that he was more involved in government. (not Lord Protector)• However, Edward was allowed no role in foreign policy and Northumberland made sure that the privy council contained men who shared his views.• Despite being able to manipulate those surrounding the king, Northumberland was also constrained by Edward’s opinions – the government’s ongoing commitment to Protestantism was as much Edward’s doing as Northumberland’s, if not more so and Edward himself was heavily involved in the decision to choose Lady Jane Grey as his successor.
Comparing Somerset and NorthumberlandSOMERSET’S POLICIES: NORTHUMBERLAND’S POLICIES:• Continue military action in Scotland to • End expensive and unsuccessful war with break apart Scottish-French alliance France and improve relationsCostly - £600,000 spent with little or no return. Reaction to increasing hostility from Charles VMary still went to France to marry the dauphin• Pursue cautious religious policy – • Advance the Protestant faith in line with the weakening Catholicism and introducing aims of Cranmer and the reform faction moderate Protestantism More decisive statement of national beliefsEnquiry into sale of church lands 1552-3 new legislation, new prayer book andTreason Act repealed Act of Six Articles statement of national faith all drew heavily onAct of Uniformity (but not till 1649) ideas of European reformersaccompanied by new prayer book [amibiguous] • Resolve economic problems and restore• Deal with social and economic problems government finances. through enclosures. Abandoned challenge to enclosures.Chose not to tackle problem of inflation Tried to revive royal finances (with Sir Thomasbecause it would have meant tax cuts which Gresham) cut government spending and morewould have reduced revenue for Scottish war. efficient system of collecting government debtsSet up commission to look into enclosures – Attempts to restore value of currencypromised change but failed to deliver which 1552 Poor Law - greater responsibility on parishescause more discontent. to care for deserving poor
In summary• Edward may have started out being awed by his uncle and lacking involvement in government but by the end of his six year reign he was confident and assertive and had used Somerset’s fall to increase his own involvement in government.• He was well-trained, well-educated and well- suited to his role.• W.K. Jordan, in his biography of Edward said “Few monarchs in history have been as well equipped for their task as was Edward VI”
Opposition in Edward’s ReignOpposition to Somerset – why were people opposed to him?• Poor leadership – high-handed management, lack ofdelegation, bypassing the council etc•Mishandling of foreign policy – failed Scottish campaign andFrench declaration of war in 1549•Favouritism – key positions packed with own men.•Money-making and extravagance – accumulated revenuethrough fees, salaries, offices and lands. Added £5000 to hisincome. Spent a fortune on lavish building projects•Social policy – unpopular views on social justice upsetaristocracy and contributed to Western and Kett’s rebellions in1549•Religious policies – opposed by Catholics like Arundel andSouthampton
The Year of the Many-headed MonsterHow much threat did Edward face in 1549?The Western and Kett’s rebellions were the twomajor rebellions of 1549 but the year saw manyminor rebellions as wellThe rebellions of 1549 played a major role in thedownfall of SomersetThe rebellions did not pose as much danger as theymight have – there was an absence of significantinvolvement on the parts of the nobility and gentry
The extent of the threat• In some cases, notably Norfolk, Devon and Cornwall, the local gentry failed to deal with the uprisings and the central government had to intervene.• Raising troops was expensive and difficult. This was normally done through the local militia but the government was reluctant to use the peasants. Russell in the southwest had to bring in troops from distant counties and the government also paid foreign mercenaries.• Somerset was forced to bring troops back from the garrisons in the north (intended to deal with Scotland) to assist in the crisis.
The extent of the threat• Coordination between rebels was limited to local areas – Devon and Cornwall joined forces and Kett gained some support from small groups from Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire – but there was no cross-regional cooperation. This would have been much more dangerous for the government.• The rebellions were not directed at the government or the monarch.• There was not attempt to march on London.• The government was always in control of its forces and was never in danger.• There was a significant lack of leadership from nobles or gentry.
Mary I• Unlike Henry VIII and Edward VI, Mary I’s accession to the throne was not unchallenged.• Edward and Northumberland had tried to keep Mary off the throne. Mary had to gather a force to enable her to take the throne.• Albeit temporarily, the Tudor line was broken and Mary’s in the same way that Mary’s accession had not been automatic, nor was it fully secure.• While Mary had gained the support of many noble families, there was some uncertainty about her suitability to rule – Mary was not only a women, but a 37 year old unmarried women.
How would Mary’s background affect her rule?• Mary was the daughter of Catherine of Aragon• She had been bastardised by the Act of Succession in 1534 (although Henry restored her to the succession in 1543)• She was prevented from having any contact with her mother between 1531 and Catherine’s death in 1536• She had been brought up as a devout Catholic and represented the best hope of those who hoped to see the restoration of Catholicism in England.• Mary spent years resisting the oath of Supremacy only relenting in 1536 under the threat of execution.• Mary had briefly been betrothed to Charles V but even after 1536, when she was once again allowed to attend court, Henry VIII made no real efforts to secure a marriage for Mary.• During Edward’s reign she had openly flouted the prohibitions on Catholic ceremonies, putting her safety at risk to the point that the Emperor’s ambassador in England organised an escape route for her.
Mary’s experiences informed her aims at the beginning of her reignMary wanted to:• Convince the Privy Council of her right to be Queen (effectively restore her legitimacy)• Restore Catholicism• Marry and have children• Increase her securityIn the initial stages she also wanted to make the decision onhow to deal with Northumberland and his supporters. Shealso wanted to choose her own privy councillors.• Mary also needed to take care of her health which had been poor during the difficult years prior to her accession.
How secure was Mary’s reign?• Support for Mary was a consequence of general acceptance of her position as the legitimate heir (N’ land went against Henry VIII’s will when he changed the succession)• Mary was a Tudor and the dynasty was still relatively popular.• Does not mean that Mary’s support was a result of her personal popularity.• Historians often view Mary in a rather negative light – this may in part be a result of comparisons with her more successful sister (made more striking as a result of Elizabethan propaganda) – however there are also contemporary accounts that are unsympathetic to Mary.• Mary was in the unenviable position of being the first woman to be crowned queen. The last female ruler of England had been unable to keep control of the throne.• While there were sections of society who greeted Mary as the spearhead of a catholic revival, there were an equal number who were fiercely opposed to such a restoration.• Mary’s policies caused significant tension in the country at a time when poor harvests and epidemics increased public discontent.
Opposition to MaryMary faced opposition as a result of her religious, anddynastic policies.• Mary’s decision to marry Philip of Spain was one of the main causes of Wyatt’s rebellion – there was real concern at the prospect of a foreign husband who might undermine England’s interests• There were also those who took part in the rebellion who were partly motivated by a desire to avoid a Catholic restoration.• In addition, it can be argued that economic tensions were also involved. Kent, the starting point of the rebellion, had been undergoing an economic slump.• There was also an element of local political instability.
Mary’s Reaction• 90 rebels were executed including Wyatt who became a martyr.• Lady Jane Grey and her husband were executed – the rebellion provided the excuse Mary needed.• Princess Elizabeth survived only because there was no evidence that she was involved with Wyatt and the rebels.