Edward VI was the son of Henry VIII and his second wife, Jane Seymour. He ruled for only six years (1547-1553) and died at the age of sixteen. But these were years of fundamental importance in the history of the English state, and in particular of the English church. This new biography reveals for the first time that, despite his youth, Edward had a significant personal impact. Jennifer Loach draws a fresh portrait of the boy king as a highly precocious, well educated, intellectually confident, and remarkably decisive youth, with clear views on the future of the English church. Loach also offers a new understanding of Edward’s health, arguing that the cause of his death was a severe infection of the lungs rather than tuberculosis, the commonly accepted diagnosis. The author views Edward not as a sickly child but as a healthy and vigorous boy, devoted to hunting and tournaments like any young aristocrat of the day.
This book tells the story of the monarch and of his time. It supplies the dramatic context in which the short reign of Edward VI was played out—the momentous religious changes, factional fights, and popular risings. And it offers vivid details on Edward’s increasing absorption in politics, his consciousness of his role as supreme head of the English church, his determination to lay the foundation for a Protestant regime, and how his failure in this ambition brought England to the brink of civil war.
Jennifer Loach was fellow in history at Somerville College, Oxford when she died in 1995.
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