Thomas was arrested in early , attainted and executed for treason two months later. In June a rebellion broke out in Sampford Courtenay in Devon after a group of churchgoers forced their local priest to conduct mass in the style of the old religion, as opposed to in the way sanctioned in the Book of Common Prayer. The rising spread to other areas and the city of Exeter in Cornwall was besieged by rebels. It is believed that the Western Rising was caused by primarily religious matters, though certain social and economic factors most certainly contributed to unrest in the area and helped the rebels recruit more men.
Somerset, who was no novice when it came to military matters, was alarmed, but acted swiftly by sending an army to the region. At Exeter, the siege was lifted and through a series of small skirmishes, the rising was soon subdued. The final blow for the rebels came after their loss at the Battle of Sampford Courtenay, ironically where the rebellion had begun. Another rising soon broke out in Norfolk and other areas of East Anglia. This rising, under the nominal leadership of one Robert Kett, a local tanner, was based mainly on disputes over the usage of common land and the practice of enclosure, which eliminated the usage of common land for mowing and grazing purposes.
The rebels were particularly adamant when it came to men of upper classes using common land because these men had their own land to make use of and common land was reserved for those of humbler means. In an attempt to consolidate his power, the duke took possession of the king and kept him as a virtual prisoner in Windsor, gaining him even more enemies. Both Reformists and Conservatives alike wanted Somerset removed from power and the duke therefore had no choice but to surrender.
King Edward VI Tudor Monarchs Facts, Information & Pictures
He was arrested on several trumped up charges involving the usurpation of royal authority and imprisoned in the tower. Though Somerset would soon be released, and was even restored to his place in the Privy Council, he would never again possess the power that he once held.
Dudley became the head of the royal council, was upgraded in the nobility to Duke of Northumberland and, for the remainder of the reign, would be the de facto protector of the realm. England under Northumberland was hardly any different from that under Somerset. The kingdom continued to struggle financially and Protestantism became even more deeply rooted. Zealous Protestants such as Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley and, of course, Archbishop Cranmer were given free rein to do as they pleased and many Protestant exiles from the continent were welcomed into the kingdom.
Even the young king was beginning to show that he was loyal to the new faith. This became evident when he became angry with his eldest sister, Mary, when she requested to be able to hear the traditional Catholic mass. Northumberland, himself a Reformist, did nothing to stop the spread of Protestantism though he was widely hated amongst Conservatives , but received fairly little in the way of opposition to what was, for all intensive purposes, his regime. Somerset made a small attempt to return to power but was arrested, yet again, on trumped up charges of treason and executed in January In early , the king developed a cold of sorts, which developed into a more serious illness.
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Over the following months, Edward steadily declined and, by the late spring of that year, it became clear that he was going to die. To this day it is not known as to what Edward was suffering from, but many historians in conjunction with doctors have concluded that he developed an infection in his lungs which, lacking any effective form of treatment at the time, progressed into septicemia and renal failure. Edward, who was still only fifteen at the time of his death, had no heirs and, according to the Succession Act of , he was to be succeeded by his sister Mary.
Northumberland and the other leading Protestants at court including the king himself had no intention of allowing Mary, a devout Catholic, to take the throne and destroy all the progress they had made for the Protestant cause. Therefore, Edward drew up a will in which he disinherited both Mary and his other sister, Elizabeth though the latter was a Protestant , in favor of the descendants of his aunt Mary, the younger sister of Henry VIII. Edward VI died on July 6, after a reign of just six years. Her reign, however, would be a very short one. Assessment and Analysis.
Being that he lived for such a short period of time, the life and reign of Edward VI is destined to be told through the men who ruled in his name: Somerset, Northumberland and Archbishop Cranmer. Along with the title came an income of pds a year, a vast sum in those days. When his brother made it clear he would not share ultimate authority, Seymour began to plot against him. He also secured the guardianship of Jane Grey, telling her parents he would arrange her marriage to the young king. Since Somerset was strict with his nephew and kept him constantly short of money, the king was grateful for the gifts.
However, this is wrong — as is the view that Edward VI was a sickly king, always delicate of health. In fact, until the last eighteen months of his life, Edward was quite healthy and gave every intention of living many years. He was slender and had fair coloring but also enjoyed activity and took a keen — and passionate — interest in learning and religion.
He treated the king as he treated his children — with firmness, discipline, and a strict regimen.
Seymour and Dudley spoke to the young king as a king, pretending to defer to his naturally superior wisdom. For a while, though, Somerset kept near-absolute control over the council.
He became popular with the poor — and unpopular with his fellow nobles — by promoting reform of agricultural laws creating fixed rents and the abolition of enclosures and he attempted to reform the judicial system in favor of equality for all. In fact, he established a court of pleas at his own home in London. To this perception of arrogance and class-betrayal was added a spiritual weakness — Somerset would not allow anyone to be tortured or burned over religious matters.
This tolerance was unexpected and unwelcome by his peers. But along with idealistic plans for social reform, Somerset was also grasping and greedy. The combination of such traits was considered hypocritical and inconsistent. They pointed to his London residence, Somerset House, built at the exorbinant cost of pds; there were other homes, too, equally grand and all designed to emphasize his stature as Lord Protector.
In just ten years, they had become the pre-eminent family in the land and he may have been insecure about such a rapid rise. In any case, he was encouraged in such spending by his wife.
King Edward VI Tudor Monarchs Facts & Biography
The sheer intimidating force of his personality had awed everyone — and Somerset lacked that bravura, a natural ability to inspire and lead. Instead, he was forced to shout and insult his peers into action, at one time driving a man to tears. Meanwhile, his brother was proving an embarrassment. Edward wanted more pocket money, less severe tutors, more time for leisure pursuits — he wanted to be treated as king and not a child.
Fowler, paid by Seymour, was happy to pass these complaints on. Such statements only encouraged Seymour. Edward was naturally cautious and asked his tutor, John Cheke, for guidance. Cheke was a learned man obsessed with otherwordly concerns but he also understood the intrigues of the Tudor court. His advice was for Edward to not sign and distance himself from both uncles. Seymour was furious. When Katharine died on 5 September after a difficult childbirth, one important link to his nephew disappeared. After all, Edward had been genuinely fond of Katharine.
But after her death, Seymour became even more openly ambitious and insulting to his brother. There were rumors that he wanted to marry his former ward Jane Grey but Seymour found this laughable. He had more ambitious plans — once again, he intended to woo Princess Elizabeth. It may have been that Katharine Parr exerted a calming influence upon her husband and, once she died, he became more obvious and unrestrained in his plans. Somerset tried to be conciliatory but Seymour had none of it. He began to gather support at least nominally from other nobles who were dissatisfied with Somerset for less personal reasons.
As Lord High Admiral, a post he had heretofore neglected, Seymour was able to control the English navy. He openly asked people for support in case of a coup. In other words, he was completely indiscreet. But Elizabeth was cautious and less than thrilled; she retired to the country and stayed far away from London. Furthermore, Russell cautioned, King Edward would view a match with Elizabeth very suspiciously — after all, it smacked of ambition and the next step would be his own death. Then, Seymour and Elizabeth would rule. He was also embezzling vast sums in a complicated scheme with the vice-treasurer of the Bristol mint.
Once again, this is discussed in the Elizabeth I pages as well. The vice-treasurer was a man called Sir William Sharington. Sharington had taken advantage of the general laxity and chaos the new reign to clip and debase the coinage produced at Bristol. He doctored the account books to cover the operation but rumors spread of his crimes. It was inevitable — after all, others worked at the mint and Sharington was using the money to refurbish his house in a very lavish manner.
He planned to use the proceeds to finance his coup to take over the government. Furthermore, he as using his position as Lord High Admiral to encourage piracy rather than protect against it, as was his duty , allowing the pirates safe passage in exchange for shares of their booty. He also charged ships a toll to pass from England to Ireland on official government business.
But at the end of , everyone knew of his plans.