How successfully was England governed during Edward’s reign?

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Catriona Ashley Miller
How successfully was England
governed during Edward's reign?
How well suited were Somerset and Northumberland to
What was Somerset like?
Stubbornly committed to particular policies
Man of action
Obsessed by problem of Scotland
Obsessive gambler
Mildly radical Protestant
Autocratic ruler ­ arrogant/rude/difficult to work with
Accumulated wealth and jewels
Not well-educated or bookish
Spent lavishly ­ built Somerset House at cost of £10,000
Somerset's rise to power
Born Edward Seymour c.1506
Brother of Jane Seymour therefore political rise dates to marriage 1536
March 1537 became member of PCo
Became EoHertford after birth of E
During 1540s had experience of diplomacy and battlefield in Scot/France
31st Jan 1547 PCo elected Somerset as Protector ­ ruled with virtual royal authority
4th February 1547 given sovereign authority until E = 18
16th February 1547 became DoSomerset
October 1549 dismissed from offices and imprisoned
April 1550 released an returned to PCo
Jan 1552 tried and executed
What was Northumberland like?
Skilled politician
Not pious man
Suffered from illness/depression
Effective at delegating responsibility
Ambitious for power
Northumberland's rise to power
Born John Dudley 1504
Son of Edmund Dudley ­ executed by H8 as scapegoat for H7's financial policy

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Brought up by Sir Edward Guildford ­ Dudley married his daughter and was treated like a son
Received various court posts under H8 incl.…read more

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Poor leadership - DoS had alienated many through high-handed leadership. Reluctant to
delegate, by-passed Council, ruled from `the Protector's Palace'
Mishandling of foreign policy - failed campaign in Scot, Aug 1549 Fr declared war - Council
disappointed as saw FA as v important
Favouritism - DoS put own men in key positions therefore controlled K (eg.…read more

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2nd Dec Council had Prot.…read more

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What policy should was danger of provoking RCs into rebellion. E's RC sister Mary posed
govt. adopt towards particularly difficult problem ­ remained resolutely determined to retain
Reformation? faith and supported by some of leading figures at court and by HRE CV.
Therefore moves towards RCism would ease foreign situation. Remaining
neutral would dissatisfy radicals on both sides.
Social Order Growing concern about poverty because of social injustice and seen as
How should govt. deal threat to order.…read more

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Social Policy under Somerset and Northumberland
Vagrancy Act
Number of poor in 16th century England was undoubtedly increasing, and becoming more mobile in
response to rapid expansion of key towns e.g. London. Traditional for govts to clamp down on poor
because of heightened fear of disorder arising from large numbers of poor. 1547 Vagrancy Act was
unpopular law involving `a savage attack on vagrants looking for work' (Heard).…read more

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Economic and financial policy under Somerset and Northumberland
Henry VIII's financial legacy
H had left son in deep financial trouble:
Debasement ­ 1544 H8 had begun large-scale debasement of coinage ­ tempting but
short-sighted way for govt to raise money. Raised £363,000 under H8 and £1,270,684 by
1551.At home led to extremely high inflation levels, loss of confidence in currency, economic
disruption.…read more

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continued. Commissions estab to inquire into state of finances and Winchester enforced stricter
accounting methods. Emergency household fund (privy coffer) was estab. N faced difficulty of
needing to keep tight grip on finances at same time as rewarding supporters with grants /
advantageous sales of land ­ ordinary income not increased. Expenditure pruned, but not realistic in
mid 16th century for K to `live of his own'.
Debts were reduced 1550-53 £300,000 to £180,000.…read more

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Grey). Methods aroused intense
opposition and at downfall 19 of
Council accused him of `malice and evil
government ... pride, covetousness and
extreme ambition'.
Use of the S effectively by-passed the PCo. N extended use and importance of PCo.
Privy Council that he called frequently His political `genius' (D. Hoak) was to see
Council convened at Somerset House and that his political survival (during 1549-50)
group of household servants and continued political dominance (after
nicknamed the `new council'.…read more

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S and N both tradit 16th century aristocrats, military men who had succeeded in politics due to their
ambition and astute handling of circumstances in which they found themselves.
S more ideologically motivated, allowing genuinely held social and religious beliefs to influence govt
policy. But both these areas of policy took backseat to stubbornly held desire to subdue Scots. S
overstretched himself through war with Scot and anti-enclosure policies.…read more


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