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Edward VI (1537-1553) was the only surviving male heir of England’s King Henry VIII. Edward, the son of Henry and Jane Seymour, was crowned King of England at age 9 upon the death of his father, and reigned until his early demise at the age of 15. Edward VI’s short reign is largely marked by the continuing rift between Protestants and Catholics in Britain.
Edward VI's Birth
Henry VIII’s split with the Roman Catholic Church can largely be attributed to his desire to produce a son. Henry’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon, was the mother to Mary. Henry wanted a divorce from his marriage in order to marry Anne Boleyn, who gave birth to Elizabeth. Henry married Jane Seymour ten days after the execution of Anne Boleyn, and Prince Henry was born the following year. The birth was difficult, and Seymour died as a result of complications.
Edward VI Crowned King
When Edward VI was crowned, England was ruled by a Council of Regency, sixteen noblemen named in Henry’s will. The new king’s uncle Edward Seymour, the Duke of Somerset, became the Lord Protector. One of the major issues facing England was the question of succession. When Edward fell ill, his Catholic sister Mary was next in succession. Edward attempted (or was manipulated into) naming the Protestant Lady Jane Grey his heir, excluding Mary and Elizabeth. However, upon Edward’s death Mary’s forces were able to secure her the throne. Edward VI’s lasting contribution to history is the further establishment of Protestantism in the Church of England.