Edward VI (October 12, 1537 – July 6, 1553) was King of England and Ireland from January 28, 1547 until his death. He was crowned on February 20 at the age of nine. Edward VI was the son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, and England’s first monarch to be raised as a Protestant. During his reign, the realm was governed by a Regency Council because he never reached his majority. The Council was first led by his uncle Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset (1547–1549), and then by John Dudley, 1st Earl of Warwick, from 1551 Duke of Northumberland.
Henry VIII died, aged 55 at the Palace of Whitehall on January 28, 1547 after a reign of ~ 37 years, 281 days. The Lord Chancellor, Thomas Wriothesley, announced Henry’s death to parliament on January 31 and general proclamations of Edward’s succession were ordered. The new king was taken to the Tower of London, where he was welcomed with “great shot of ordnance in all places there about, as well out of the Tower as out of the ships.” The following day, the nobles of the realm made their obeisance to Edward at the Tower, and Seymour was announced as Protector. Henry VIII was buried at Windsor on February 16, in the same tomb as Jane Seymour, as he had wished. Edward VI was crowned at Westminster Abbey four days later on Sunday February 20.
The ceremonies were shortened, because of the “tedious length of the same which should weary and be hurtsome peradventure to the King’s majesty, being yet of tender age”, and also because the Reformation had rendered some of them inappropriate.
On the eve of the coronation, Edward progressed on horseback from the Tower to the Palace of Westminster through thronging crowds and pageants, many based on the pageants for a previous boy king, Henry VI.
The young king He laughed at a Spanish tightrope walker who “tumbled and played many pretty toys” outside St Paul’s Cathedral.
At the coronation service, Cranmer affirmed the royal supremacy and called Edward a second Josiah, urging him to continue the reformation of the Church of England, “the tyranny of the Bishops of Rome banished from your subjects, and images removed”. After the service, Edward presided at a banquet in Westminster Hall, where, he recalled in his Chronicle, he dined with his crown on his head.
Edward VI’s reign would be short. After five years on the throne Edward VI died at the age of 15 at Greenwich Palace at 8pm on July 6, 1553. According to John Foxe’s legendary account of his death, his last words were: “I am faint; Lord have mercy upon me, and take my spirit”. He was buried in the Henry VII Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey on August 8, 1553, with reformed rites performed by Thomas Cranmer. The cause of Edward VI’s death is not certain. As with many royal deaths in the 16th century, rumours of poisoning abounded, but no evidence has been found to support these.