Edward VI

  • Created by: James
  • Created on: 19-05-15 11:39

The problem of minority government

  • 9 years old on accession in 1547
  • Similar to 1483, Edward's uncle Edward Seymour, the Earl of Hertford (and later the Duke of Somerset) became Lord Protector
  • As Edward's reign progressed, the  King became more involved in political and religious issues - advanced Protestant
  • Seymour's reign was negative:
    • Execution of his brother Thomas for treason
    • Deteriorating economic conditions
  • Could rely on his brother Thomas, Cranmer, Northumberland, Essex, Paget and Arundel - rewarded with Crown lands
  • Overthrew the Regency Council, awarding himself control, governing with members of his own household, only one of whom (Sir Thomas Smith) was a member of the PC
  • Members of the PC felt resentment towards the Protectorate; within a week Southampton had been arrested
  • No guarantee of wider public acceptance of Somerset.  Led to the Homily on Obedience by Cranmer in 1547
  • Factional rivalry soured the regime:
    • Starkey: Thomas Seymour was the "leading malcontent of the new reign" - left out of the PC
    • Tried to plot with Southampton against Somerset and marry Princess Elizabeth
    • Treason charges brought against Thomas. Southampton denounced him and was readmitted to the Council 
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Foreign policy under Somerset

  • Aggressive policy to Scotland trying to reassert English suzerainty over the Scottish throne
  • Wanted to marry Edward Vi and Mary Queen of Scots, uniting the two crowns
  • Strategy was to defeat the Scots in battle and force them into submission
    • Build and garrison forts on the southern border of Scotland
    • Blockade the Firth of Forth
  • Early success in Spetember 1548 at the Battle of Pinkie
  • However:
    • Forts proved difficult and expensive to garrison - couldn't capture strategic castles at Dunbar and Edinburgh
    • Underestimated the extent of Scottish-French cooperation -> failed to blockade the Firth of Forth, enabling the French to relieve Edinburgh
  • Disastrous for Somerset:
    • Engaged in a military strategy that proved unaffordable at a time of financial pressure
      • Debased coinage, raising £537,000, but heightening inflationary pressures and social distress
    • Led to deteriorating relations with France
      • Threat of war and invasion in southern England during vulnerable rebellion period of 1549
      • Heightened resentments from PC members of his autocratic style of government
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Religious policy under Somerset

  • Somerset a genuine Protestant - policy reflected this; welcomed radicals (Hooper and Becon) to his household
  • Cranmer's Book of Common Prayer 1549 - anxious not to increase religious tension
  • February 1547: denunciation of images in London, reflecting the iconoclastic attitudes of Nicholas Ridley
  • July 1547: injunctions issued that attacked many features of popular Catholicism
    • Duffy: "a charter for revolution".  the injunctions formed the basis of visitations that were "to precipitate the most sweeping changes in religion England had yet seen".
    • Forbade burning of lights; encouraged smashing stained glass windows; bell-ringing discouraged
  • December 1547: dissolution of chantries - economic and religious motives
  • May 1549: Introduction of the Book of Common Prayer - uniform religious services; more moderate than 1547
  • By 1547 most images had been removed from St Paul's Cathedral, a policy that quickly extended to other cities
  • The Council became alarmed by the destructiveness of the process, fearing rebellion (Duffy)
  • In the process, both fervent evangelicals and conservatives were angered:
    • Haigh: "Somerset had blundered into a total ban on images in London, and he had got away with it".  Led to "much strife and contention"
    • Most parishes conformed, but hid their images rather than let them be destroyed
  • The discontinued belief in purgatory allowed for the dissolution of chantries in December 1547
    • The Crown secured money and property that had traditionally underpinned popular and charitable celebrations
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Religious policy under Somerset (cont.)

  • Haigh argues the need to finance the war with Scotland was more important than destroying idolatry.  He also argues that many parishes went to considerable lengths to prevent chantry endownments going to the Crown
    • Bishops were ordered to draw up inventories of items of each parish -> initiated fears
    • This fear, prompted by the local archdeacon, William Body, was arguably the main reason for the Western Rebllion 
  • Reformers introduced services in English before they had authority given by Parliament
  • Many reforms were implemented despite the conservative nature of much of the population
    • Robert Parkyn, a Yorkshire Priest, complained of the "cruel tyrants" repressing Spring festival celebrations
  • The Act of Uniformity in 1549 enforced the use of the Book of Common Prayer
  • Moderate: most of the text was an English version of the Catholic & Latin Use of Sarum;
    • Gardiner claimed the Eucharist declaration implied a Catholic interpretation of the doctrine of transubstantiation
    • The old vestments and much of the old ceremony remained
  • Radical: Latin replaced by English;
    • MacCulloch writes that the Communion service's language emphasised Communion as a thanksgiving
    • New Communion omitted the Elevation of the Host - reduced sacrificial element of Catholic practice
    • Communion in both kinds (bread and wine) for the laity
    • MacCulloch recognises the shift in Cranmer's idelogy from moderate Lutheran to the theology of Zwingli
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The rebellions of 1549

  • John Guy: "the closest thing England came to a class war"
  • Somerset's government found them difficult to manage due to substantial numbers of troops garrisoning Scotland and protecting south-east England from French invasion
  • Most died out wuickly due to insufficient support and prompt action of local gentry (Arundel) - figure not always present

The Western Rebellion, 1549 

  • Prompted primarily by religious grievances against the Book of Common Prayer
    • Rebellion given this title, but rebels' wanted to reverse religious reform inflicted on them for the past 15 years
      • Church services lost their sensual appeal in which they had invested real and emotional capital
  • However, not solely religion:
    • Eamon Duffy: "class antagonism"
    • Taxation: Somerset, in an attempt to deal with enclosure (blamed on sheep farming), placed a tax on sheep
    • This came as another blow by a seemingly uncaring government in London, exacerbated by implementation by insensitive officials

Kett's Rebellion in East Anglia, 1549 

  • Little evidence of conservative religious tendencies among the leadership - used Prayer Book for services
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The rebellions of 1549 (cont.)

  • Wood argues a similar class antagonism to the western: "a particular sharpness in social conflict"
  • MacCulloch emphasises: hatred of local officials; resentment of abuse of landlords of the Norfolk foldcourse system; and the release of pent-up frustrations about the maladministration of the Howards
  • The rebels wanted the government to act on promises made by Somerset in his proclamation against enclosure in April
  • Kett maintained order and discipline aming the rebels and managed to negotiate with civic authorities in Norwich
    • MacCulloch sees this as dangerous to social order as it showed "that those outside the magisterial class could get on very well without them until confronted with brutal force"
  • Somerset appointed Lord Russel to deal with the rebels but  became exasperated by his unwillingness to fight them
    • Eventually Russel had enough forces, including foreign mercenaries, to defeat some rebels at Clyst St Mary
  • The Earl of Northampton had moved into East Anglia with 1,000 men
    • Initial success in dispersing the rebls at their camp but was humiliatingly defeated in Norwich
    • Somerset was forced to send an army including foreign mercenaries and led by Warwick, but this did not occur until over a month had passe.  A fault giving a potential enemy so many troops
  • What he could not restore was his political credibility with the governing classes
    • Financial disarray; rebellion provoking policies; English possessions in France at risk of loss; and his vision of uniting England and Scotland lay in ruins
    • Many Councillors believed this came as a result of his authoritarian style of government
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The fall of Somerset

  • In August 1459, the Earls of Warwick and Arundel, Southampton and Lord St John decided that Somerset's control should be ended
    • Initially tried to secure support from Princess Mary, but she stayed away
  • By October, most of the Council, including Cranmer, were on the side of the conspiracy
  • Somerset, realising immediate threat, ordered Lord Russell and Herbert to place their troops at his disposal.  They did not arrive
  • The Council arranged the arrest of key supporters (Stanhope who controlled the Privy Chamber, Smith in his PC and household)
  • Eventually, after retreating to Windsor and being promised no treason charges would be brought against him, surrendered
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Government under Northumberland

  • Warwick, as the leader of the coup against Somerset, found himself as successor
  • Eager to avoid excessive concentration of power that had undemined Somerset, he made himself Lord President
  • The second coup led by Warwick eliminated some key conservatives
    • Argued that he did this  to exercise unlimited power. More likely worried of being ejected by conservatives
  • He asserted the Protestant character of the regime, appointiing Protestants to the Council: the Marquis of Dorset, Bishop of Ely, and offered Russell an Earldom, In October 1551, Warwick promoted himself as Duke of Northumberland
    • Appointed his own man, Sir John Gates as Vice Chamberlain of the Household to ensure control over court
  • Traditionalist historians such as Pollard view Northumberland as "wicked" and Somerset as "good"
    • Hoak argues in 'Rehabilitating the Duke of Northumberland' that he was no more unscrupulous than any other leading Tudor politician. Rational and defensible behaviour of a tough but intelligent politician
      • "One of the most remarkably able governors of any European state during the sixteenth century"
    • Loades is more measured: "a major figure in English government for a crucial decade"; "a hardened professional". But he "destroyed himself by a major miscalculation which left his reputation as discredited as his career"
  • Operated an effective Privy Council thanks to Paget's guidelines for improved efficiency.  Paget was excluded
  • Sir William Cecil, who prospered under Somerset, was able to transform himself into N's key administrator
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Government under Northumberland (cont.)

  • Having been reinstituted to the Council, Somerset attempted a counter coup, but was brought down by "a combination of ruthlessness and trickery" (Loades)
    • Somerset executed, which, according to Hoak, saved the country from a revival of the chaos that characterised the Protectorate
    • N became counciliar as a result
  • N and Gates possessed the dry stamp - could affix the King's signature to documents
  • He brought an end to wars against Scotland and France
    • Reduced crown expenditure
    • £133,333 through French payment for Boulogne - lost foothold in France
  • Succumbed to debasing the coinage, but cancelled the action
  • Melted down church plate for bullion - unscrupulous method
  • Under supervision of Mildmay, a commission produced details of the shortcomings of royal financial administration -> plans made for streamlining were not implemented until Mary
  • Pollard's view is governed by N's tarnished legacy, attempting to alter succession
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Religion under Northumberland

  • Traditionally seen as having few religious convictions; Loades and MacCulloch invert this
    • Cntend he had been leaning towards Evangelical Protestant since 1532
    • They both agree that Cranmer was correct in being suspicious of N's lurch towards radicalism in 1552
  • Protestantism unmistakable in 1550 when he outmanoeuvred the conservatives of the PC, arranging for their replacements by Protestants and for the dismissal of Arundel and Southampton
  • Political context helped procure a more radical approach than might be expected from a political figure like N
    • Reflected the influence of Cranmer and Ridley, the Bishop of London, as well as John Hooper
    • MacCulloch argue the most important influence came from Edward VI
    • Duffy: "a flood tide of radicalism"
  • There was widespread removal of altars - condemned by Hooper - which were replaced by Communion tables
    • This initiative was turned into policy by the PC in November 1550
    • The Bishop of Chichester refused to comply, and was imprisoned in the Tower
  • This was followed by the removal of conservative bishops and their replacement by active Protestant
  • In 1552, the new Act of Uniformity required the consequent publication of a revised Book of Common Prayer
    • This was influenced by criticisms of the 1549 PB by foreign reforms like Bucer and Martyr
    • Haigh: "broke decisively with the past"
  • Rewrote baptism, confirmation and burial services reflected Cranmer's desire to see more simplicity in services
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Religion under Northumberland (cont.)

  • Radical reform of Communion service, replacing wafer with bread - showed Cranmer's influence of Zwinglianism
  • Ban on the use of 'Popish' vestments, seen as objects of superstition
  • Restrictions on the use of church music, based on the belief that music hindered understanding; radical opinion considered it idolatrous
  • The Protestan tnature of official doctrine was confirmed in the Forty-Two Articles of Religion published by Cranmer in June 1552
    • Still left ambiguities between competing varieties of Protestantism
    • The King's death within a few weeks meant they were never implemented
  • The Crown, still in financial difficulties after Somerset, pursued a systematic policy of extracting Church wealth
    • The dioceses of Gloucester and Worcester were combined, with two-thirds of the Worcester estate going to the Crown
    • The Bishops of Exeter and Winchester made substantial 'grants' from their property to the Crown
    • There was an unimplemented plan to divide the bishopric of Durham and appropriate much of its wealth to the Crown
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The impact of religious change

  • Brigden has suggested that roughly 20% of Londoners were Protestant by 1547. Elsewhere it was almost non-existent
  • Kent, East Sussex, Essex, Bristol and East Anglian ports were places with entrenched Protestant minorities
    • Catholic survivalism remained strong in the north, especially Lancashire, the Midlands and in the far south-west
  • Historians suggest churchwardens seem to have gradually implemented the Crown's decrees - some were rapid
  • MacCulloch: "already in the 1540s the old world was losing its enchantment". The expenditure on Church goods declined after 1540
  • However, Haigh and Scarisbrick argue that, if this were the case, it was largely down to the destructive attitudes of the Crown - little point leaving money if it would got to the Crown
  • By 1549, 8% of Kentish wills had a Protestant formula while in Suffolk 27% of lay wills had Protestant preambles
    • Before 1550, there were only two traceable Protestant wills from York; only one from the south west
    • However, preambles often reflected the views of the clerical author, rather than the testator
    • Siginificant that the south west - who demonstrated in the 1536 Pilgrimage of Grace - remained largely quiet
  • By 1549, testators were much less likely to leave money to the Church
    • Haigh: 70% of northern will between 1540-46 left money to the parish - reduced to 32% in Edward's reign
    • "As churches became plainer ... churches attracted less affection - and much less money - from their people"
    • Evidence of a decline in Church attendance in Exeter
  • in 1550, Hooper admitted the pace of reform was hampered by uncooperative public opinion
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The impact of religious change (cont.)

  • Many Churche sfeared a Crown attack on Church plate
    • Avoided this by selling their treasures; some were able to hide them
    • Duffy: this attack in assets and the history and collective memory of each parish ecouraged a "climate of discontent and disobedience"
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The Succession Crisis

  • Henry's will established that he should be succeded by Edward, but if he died then by Mary
  • Although Edward's health was never robust, he seemed likely to reach his majority
  • However, he was taken ill in February 1553 and by the end of March he seemed to be dying
    • Created immediate problems of Mary's accession -> Catholicism would be restored
  • Hokes, in his rehabilitation of Northumberland, blames the original idea of the 'Devise' on Edward
    • Anxious that English Protestantism should survive after his death, he was prepared to exclude both half-sisters, each tainted with illegitimacy
    • Edward's initial thoughts were revised, possibly at the suggestion of Gates, so he named Lady Jane Grey
      • Jane married N's son Guildford Dudley in May 1553 - looked like self-interest
      • In June, Mary and Elizabeth were once again declared illegitimate by letters patent issued by Edward
    • To make the 'Devise' watertight in legal terms, it was necessary to override the Succession Act of 1544
      • Edward died on 6th July 1553, before Parliament could be called -> as Chief Justice Montague pointed out, any attempt to confer the Crown to Jane Grey could have no legal force
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The failure of the 'Devise'

  • One of N's major failures was his lack of preparation should the King die; it took him 3 days to proclaim Queen Jane
  • Mary - who had been told of N's plans - moved to Kenninghall in Norfolk where she gathered support in favour of legitimate Catholic succession
    • She moved from Kenninghall to Framlingham in Suffolk, gathering a large number of supporters, including nobility
  • N took command of the troops and a naval squadron was sent to Great Yarmouth to intercept Mary by sea
    • Both moves misfired: he drew troops from a part of the country in which he was reviled due to the cruelty with which he had put down Kett's rebellion; the navy went on Mary's side
  • The Council, sensing support was leaving N, left the tower where Grey was lodging and proclaimed Mary the Queen on 19 July
    • N followed suite the next day, proclaiming the same in the market place at Cambridge
  • Why it failed:
    • Attempted to interfere with legitimate succession
    • Compounded the problem by marrying his son to his designated heir
    • Patently illegal, generating unease even among the more committed members of the Council
    • This contrasted with the speed with which Mary gathered support both among the nobility, gentry and laity
    • N, although he had generated less enmity than Somerset, had too built up little personal support
      • Desperation forced him into treasonable action with little chance of success due to Mary's aptitude
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