Key Stage 3 History: The Tudors: 4: Edward VI – the Child King
My father never got his wish for another son. And when he died, Edward was only nine years old. Imagine the scene. My father had changed hundreds of years of history and made England Protestant. Everyone had had to change with him. And a lot of people did not like it at all. Poor little Edward was a Protestant, but at the age of nine he wasn’t exactly in the position to rule the country and take control.
So England had a King, but he was really King in name only. The adults around him were the main leaders. They did rule England as a Protestant country, but they were self-serving, only interested in looking after themselves. They made no effort to make the people of England embrace Protestantism. They simply continued to force it on them. Although equally, no one who continued to be Catholic was treated badly as long as they practised quietly.
Poor little Edward never stood a chance. He was a weakling really, the runt of the litter as I heard many courtiers joke when they thought my father wasn’t listening. I very rarely saw him – we lived in different houses and only came together at Christmas or if Father thought something was important enough to demand both of us were with him. We wrote to each other, so I know that he inherited the Tudor intelligence, but he didn’t inherit the Tudor constitution – he was almost permanently ill.
Mind you, a lot of it was down to Father being overprotective of his only son. Edward only had to sneeze and Father had him confined to bed for a week. Still, Edward did get sick with alarming regularity and on one occasion it was genuinely life threatening. Father was beside himself with fear until we heard that Edward had pulled through.
But looking back now, I suppose it was inevitable that this boy-King was not going to reign for long. He just didn’t have the strength to survive. He died when he was just fourteen, from tuberculosis. And as he had no children, the heir to the throne was our big sister, Mary. And now my story takes a violent turn…