Edward VI's Government 1547-1553

Duke of Somerset

  • Finances - foreign policy was paid through debasement of coinage (as with HVIII since 1544); it raised £500,000 1547-1551 however was a short term solution and caused inflation; 1548 Subsidies Act (Sheep Tax) placed a 1p tax on each sheep.
  • Society & Economy - food prices doubled from 1520 to 1550; inflation caused by debasement of coinage; decline in wool trade after Antwerp Crash 1551 and a series of bad harvests (especially in 1548); Somerset appointed an Enclosure Commission to stop the policy; 1547 Vagrancy Act meant that able bodied people out of work for 3 days were branded and children could be sent to work as apprentices.
  • Nature of Government - his household officials dominated Government e.g. Cecil & Stanhope; he dominated and bypassed the Regency Council; he issued 76 proclaimations rather than going to Parliament in an attempt to increase his power and reduce factionalism. 
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Duke of Northumberland

  • Finances - appointed Sir William Paulet as Lord Treasurer 1550 to help the damaged financial situation; to advice from experts e.g. Cecil & Mildmay; recoinage (issued new coins) to end debasement in 1551; but due to the Antwerp Crash 1551 this was not carried out until 1552 when most of the coinage was restored; repealed the hated 1548 sheep tax; New Poor Law 1552 made parishes responsible for raising money for the 'deserving poor'; supported Voyages of Discovery 1552 onwards to expand and promote trade. 
  • Reduction in Expenditure - ended war with France and the garrisoning of Scotland; 1550 Treaty of Boulogne brought England £133,333; debts reduced from £300,000 1550 to £180,000 in 1553; crown and former Chantry lands were sold;
  • Style of Government - removeal of Somerset through a factional coup; made himself 'Lord President' which seemed more inclusive than Somerset; reliant on key advisers e.g. Cecil & Gates; removal of opponents from the Privy Council e.g. William Paget; expanded the council to 33 members; Somerset was re-admitted to the council 1551 but removed in 1552 after plotting against Northumberland; Treason Act 1551 re-imposed cencorship and helped restore law and order. 
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