6 July 1553 – The “boy king” Edward VI dies
Posted By Claire on July 6, 2016
On the evening of 6th July 1553, fifteen-year-old King Edward VI, son of King Henry VIII and Queen Jane Seymour, died at Greenwich Palace in the arms of Sir Henry Sidney, his friend and Chief Gentleman of the King’s Privy Chamber.
In his “Devise for the Succession”, Edward had chosen Lady Jane Grey, his cousin Frances Brandon’s daughter, as his heir but her reign was very shortlived as Mary I fought for the crown and was proclaimed queen on 19th July 1553.
Click here to read more about King Edward VI’s death.
The July edition of Tudor Life Magazine is an Edward VI special and you can read a sample and find out about joining the Tudor Society at www.tudorsociety.com/july-tudor-life-magazine-taster/
9 thoughts on “6 July 1553 – The “boy king” Edward VI dies”
Boy kings seldom grow into good kings, and in England, never…..Edward III was already an adolescent of 15 when his father was deposed, not a child, but Henry III, Richard II, Henry VI,
grew up to be weak, and really bad monarchs in many ways. Edward V is a whole other ball game.
So, as sad as his early demise was, it may be that ultimately it was better for England. If the Catholics had it rough under Elizabeth, it would have been far worse under Edward.
Poor Edward did suffer so, and this boy whose birth was such a delight to his father and the whole realm of England, whose accession to the throne would surely have meant peace and stability was destined never to happen, he was mollycoddled by his nurses as he was his fathers long awaited precious heir, the heir who had cost his father three marriages and he was born healthy and everything was fine,
as he grew up he showed an aptitude for learning and he appeared to have inherited his fathers autocratic manner, he was aware he was the heir to the kingdom of England and was a very important little boy, though he to fell a victim to the age in which he lived and became seriously ill with what appears to be tuberculosis, he never fulfilled his destiny and of which his father had such great hopes for, he could well have been a great ruler and the persecution of the Protestants under Mary may never have happened, he could have had a family himself and thus the Tudor dynasty would have continued, it seems to me that the Tudors were unlucky in that respect, Henry V11 had won the crown and his wife had given him a fine family, he thought the Tudors would have founded generations of rulers yet it was short lived, the Plantagenets whose crown he had usurped had ruled England for centuries and Henry V11 no doubt thought the Tudors would do the same yet it was destined to die out in the reign if his granddaughter Elizabeth, she was the healthiest of all his children yet she to was blighted by poor health suffering from irregular menstruatuon, migraines and palpitations of the heart, she died at seventy yet that was not very old even in those days, and it is not known to this day what she died of.
In his portrait I can see the likeness to his half sister Elizabeth, they have both inherited their fathers long hooked nose and Tudor colouring.
Edward was strong willed and showed promise of being a strong ruler. He was 15 when he died and possibly not far from taking at least some personal control of the government by declaring his majority. His journal shows a remarkable mind that was able to wrestle with the theological issues behind the reformation and laid out his own ideas for reform. His reformation was not led by others in his teenage years, but the 1551 reforms, which were more radical are outlined in this journal, handwriting by the young king. We cannot get a sense of his true potential or how radical his reign would have been, but I think it would have been a good one. I see great potential in Edward that some young King’s of the past did not have, I think he was a visionary. I also believe that he would have been fair. He was a Protestant but there is little evidence that he was an extremist. I also believe that with a great political union he would have made a splash on the diplomatic world also. He did not have the insanity of Henry iii or Henry vi. He may even have been a champion and hero like Edward iii but without wasting money on French wars.
I think that too Bandit Queen I think he would have made a fair just king.
In my opinion, I am not so sure Edward would have made such a great king. He was, as Christine said, mollycoddled by his nurses and never had much of a childhood. There are several accounts of him showing traits similar to that of his late fathers behavior in the last years of his life, of severe temper tantrums. For example, there is an account of Edward, in a fit of anger, ripping apart a hunting hawk with his bare hands.
His personal journal shows him to be unfeeling and cold. He describes the death of his Uncle Tom Seymour, beheaded, as nonchalantly as if he were discussing the weather. Though I accept a bereaved childhood plays a part in his teenage character, nevertheless, a cold and unfeeling child would most likely grow up into a cold and unfeeling king.
It’s true he was known for being quite emotionless and I to have heard the awful story of the poor hawk, I think Edward remains a bit of an enigma and it is interesting to contemplate how he would have turned out had he not been stricken down so young, Edward 1st was a King his subjects feared, he has been described as cold and ruthless and had a single minded ambition – to subdue Scotland, I can see Edward possessing that same single minded ness, in his religion he was a fanatic and in fact chastised his elder sister Mary for continuing to celebrate mass, his rebuke was so harsh he reduced her to tears and she was twice his age, I don’t think he would have endured any disobedience from his subjects and Catholicism would have been well and truly stamped out.
I don’t think we can really know how Edward would have evolved as King, but he did have his own mind and he had formed his own reformation. Every Tudor was brilliant and well educated but there was something cold about Edward. However, it was sad that a young man of promise should die so young although before he was not a sickly child, despite the myths. He named his cousin, Lady Jane Dudley as his successor on the grounds his older sister Mary was female, Catholic and as far as he was concerned, illegitimate, even though Henry had restored her legally to the succession and she was next in line, and his sister, Elizabeth, because she was also illegitimate. He had only accepted Jane because she was legitimate and Protestant and there was no time for her to have sons. All seven acceptable candidates were female. He wrote his Devise and the Council reluctantly agreed as did the judges but it was only backed by Letters Patent and not Parliament so never lawfully confirmed.
RIP Edward VI our unknown King.
Today is also the Coronation of King Richard iii and his wife, Anne Neville, daughter of the late Earl of Warwick, Richard Neville the Kingmaker. It was a grand affair, far grander than that of Henry Tudor and it was welcomed. Richard didn’t take the crown by force or imprison his nephews. He was in fact, according to every authentic contemporary source, offered the crown by the three estates of the realm and he genuinely believed his brothers children tp be illegitimate. He had been shown evidence of this and it was investigated. Up to that point he had not plotted to take the crown, no evidence existed to show this. Edward V was voted to be housed Royally in the Tower which was the main Royal palace and Richard confirmed by Parliament to be Lord Protector of England. He was responsible for the Realm even above the King. His younger brother eventually joined him and together they played and prepared for life to come. Richard remained the only legitimate male heir when they were proved to be illegitimate and therefore his coronation and his succession were legitimate and lawful and confirmed by consent.
Although the two Princes officially vanished from history, it is very likely that many people knew their fate. They continued to live in more suitable luxurious quarters until at least late September 1483 and probably for some time afterwards. They were moved to more secure locations and here we now have a mystery. The truth is nobody knows what happened to them but many historians have a variety of theories. There is currently the Lost Princes Project which aims to look at every lost document in private and public archives to resolve this mystery. Some people say they were killed by Richard iii, which is based on rumours and William Shakespeare. The history of Thomas More which wrote of this is full of errors and even More said he could be wrong. Other documents say it was the Duke of Buckingham and even Margaret Beaufort was a candidate for their alleged murder. They may have died of just about anything or lived. They may have gone abroad and one returned as Richard of England, or Perkin Warbeck or they may have lived until old age. The two sets of bones that claim to be there bodies in Westminster Abbey have not been examined since 1933 and they were not conclusively identified at that time, let alone which sex they are. They were not given a time or age of death and their continued mystery is very suspicious and the crown probably have something to hide. Whatever the truth we don’t know it and probably never will.
Richard was a controversial figure but he was no child killer despite myth which continues today. He could be ruthless and he believed in both swift and equal justice. His laws did well for England and his contemporaries praised him. Yes, he was found with scoliosis but he was not a hunchback and it didn’t stop him being a great horseman and warrior. He was keen to help ordinary people and he wasn’t either unpopular or a tyrant. A minority of the gentlemen of the South joined a quickly put down rebellion, after which there were very few executed. His death on Bosworth was as much to do with his own bravery as the betrayal of an opportunist sitting on the fence. He was a decent King and it is a pity he was not around longer to have left a bigger legacy.
God bless King Richard! God bless Queen Anne!!