Edward VI - Somerset

  • Created by: emilyfgx
  • Created on: 05-01-17 10:53


  • Edward VI = minor when Henry VIII died
  • Henry set up Privy Council of 16 trusted advisors - regency council
  • Edward Seymour took charge of council
  • 1 February 1547 - Seymour announced head of Privy Council
  • End of Feb 1547 - Seymour given title Lord Protector
  • Seymour made Duke of Somerset
  • Protestant
  • Complicated religious scenario and financial/economic problems
  • Henry VIII deliberately left Bishop Stephen Gardiner from the regency council
  • William Paget had plotted with Somerset to gain control of England
  • Set up commission to investigate enclosure
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Religious Policy

  • Somerset = Protestant
  • Abolished medieval laws against heresy and allowed the printing of scripture in English
  • Introduced Protestant changes which Cromwell and Cranmer had wanted:
    • The Act of Six Articles was repealed
    • 1549 - Clerical marriage was permitted
    • 1549 Book of Common Prayer was imposed, translated into English by Cranmer (rather than latin)
    • 1549 - Act of Uniformity - English prayer book = compulsory in all churches; Latin Mass was to be abolished
    • Chantries abolished
      • Chapels set up for priests to say prayers for souls for dead; full of costly treasures
      • Money frm sale of treasuries in dissolved chantries = used to found number of King Edward VI Grammar Schools
    • Catholic priests = imprisoned or had to flee to Europe
  • Bishops put up little resistance - only Stephen Gardiner and Edmund Bonner stood firm
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Foreign Policy

  • Bound by Henry VIII's will - involved marriage arrangement of marriage between Edward VI and Mary, Queen of Scots
    • Scots didn't want this
  • Tried to isolate Scotland with alliance with France
    • French king Francis I died in 1547 - new king Henry II
    • Henry II renewed Anglo-Scottish alliance and sent fleet of warships with 4000 troops to Scotland
  • Somerset had to intervene in Scotland
    • Land and naval invasion
      • 16,000 infantry, 4000 cavalry, 30 warships and 50 supply ships
  • Battle of Pinkie - 10 September 1547
    • Scots were defeated south of Edinburgh
    • Gave Somerset control of border region
  • Mary, Queen of Scots moved to France with intentions of her marrying heir to the French throne - Francis II
  • Costly foreign policy - £600,000
    • Cemented links between France and Scotland
  • Summer 1549 - withdrew troops from Scotland to deal with rebellions & protect the south coast
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Economic Problems

  • Commission established to investigate legality of recent enclosures
    • Many poor families in the Midlands and south had lost customary rights
    • Welcomed commissioners
  • Not everyone welcomed arrival of enclosure commissioners
    • Gentry landowners who made wealth from sheep farming feared loss of livelihood
  • 1548/9 - new laws raising tax on sheep and cloth
  • Major economic problem in the first half of the sixteenth century = inflation
  • Biggest rises affected food stuffs such as bread, cheese and meat
  • Rising population put pressure on agriculture and wages were failing to keep pace with rising prices
    • reached peak in 1540s
    • caused more economic and social problems among poorer classes, even when harvest was good
  • 1548 - tried to pay for foreign policy via coin debasement
    • only worsened economic conditions
  • Food prices had risen by 100% since 1500
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Fall of Somerset

  • Western and Kett rebellions threatened a complete breakdown of government in 2 English regions
    • Somerset's response = slow almost to the point of paralysis
    • Western rebels beaten by royal army mid-August
    • Earl of Warwick put end to Kett's rebellion
    • Combined total of 4,000 deaths
  • Rebellions shook government to the core and gave those who were aggrieved at Somerset's leadership an opportunity to strike
  • Somerset arrested 11 October and imprisoned in Tower
  • Released Feb 1550 and rejoined Privy Council
  • Rumours circulated; arrested again on charge of treason
    • Specifically of plotting to assassinate rivals in council
  • January 1552 - Somerset Executed
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Key Chronology: Regency of Somerset, 1547-49

  • Jan 1547 - Accession of Edward VI; Edward Seymour (Somerset) became Lord Protector
  • Sept 1547 - English defeated Scots at Battle of Pinkie
  • Nov 1547 - Parliament repeals anti-Protestant legislation of 1539 in Treason Act; Act abolishing chantries
  • 1548 - In the summer the French army landed in Scotland; Mary, Queeen of Scots moved to France
  • Jan 1549 - Act of Uniformity and new Prayer Book; taxes increased on sheep and cloth
  • June 1549 - Outbreak of Western rebellion in Devon; Kett's rebellion in Norfolk
  • Oct 1549  - Fall of Somerset
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