Edward VI - The Boy King (British Monarchy Documentary) | Timeline

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47:39   |   Feb 03, 2017


Edward VI - The Boy King (British Monarchy Documentary) | Timeline
Edward VI - The Boy King (British Monarchy Documentary) | Timeline thumb Edward VI - The Boy King (British Monarchy Documentary) | Timeline thumb Edward VI - The Boy King (British Monarchy Documentary) | Timeline thumb


  • [Narrator] This is the story of an England that never was.
  • Radical, militarized and truly protestant,
  • and of the king who tried to take us there.
  • His quest to change England,
  • was to tear apart his family and his country,
  • dissect brother against sister and church against people.
  • His name was Edward,
  • and he inherited the throne when he was only nine.
  • (Bells Ringing)
  • For 25 years,
  • King Henry VIII had been trying to father a male heir.
  • Finally, after three wives and two daughters, he had succeeded.
  • And Queen Jane Seymour gave birth to a son.
  • The country rejoiced.
  • On the 12th of October 1537, Edward was born here at Hampton Court.
  • Three days later, the baby was christened.
  • The galleries, chambers and halls of the palace were hung with tapestry.
  • The baby was carried in possessions through them.
  • All the splendor and magnificence of the Tudor court were there:
  • there were drums and trumpets,
  • heralds and lords and ladies
  • walking after the baby sharing in the triumph with the midwife who delivered him.
  • And the wet nurse who were suckling him.
  • The christening itself took place on high platform in the central of the chapel
  • The font was of silver, lined with soft linen and filled with warm water
  • and there under a canopy of cloth of gold, the baby was christened Edward
  • and the harolds proclaimed this title "Duke of Cornwall", "Earl of Chester", son and heir
  • of the right High Mighty and victorious Prince, King Henry the VIII (eighth)
  • *Classical Music Plays*
  • But then tragedy struck, the birth had
  • been a long and difficult one. At first, Queen Jane seemed to recover,
  • then she caught poor pure fever. Within a week of the christening, she was dead.
  • It would be easy to exaggerate the emotional impact on Edward of his mother's death
  • at such an early age. Even when their mothers alive,
  • royal babies, especially boys, wouldn't normally spent much time with them.
  • Moreover, there were many substitutes on which Edward's affection could fix.
  • Edward's infant years were spent amongst the women, like any other Tudor boy.
  • Accounts of the time describe Edward as both "mary and pretty".
  • A promising future king loved and spoiled by his father on his infrequent visits
  • But looked after by his devoted nurses.
  • He was moved between the various royal residences, but spent much
  • time in a house in "Hertfordshire", where for a while both his half
  • sisters "Mary" and "Elizabeth", lived with him in a strange game of happy families.
  • This picture was painted in 1544
  • when Edward was 6 (six) years old.
  • It's normally called "The family of Henry VIII" (Eighth). But it's not about family in the modern sense,
  • in which relationships are about love and affection. Instead
  • it's dynasty, in which relationships are about power.
  • That's why in the middle, so much bigger than everybody else is there, the king, Henry VIII (eighth).
  • Next to him is the queen, but it's not the actual queen, of 1554,
  • Instead it's Jane Seymour, she's long dead.
  • But she show next to Henry because she's the mother of Edward, the heir.
  • And he is on his father's right hand snuggling up to him
  • Not out of affection...but to symbolize that he's the successor. On either side
  • are Edward's two half sisters.
  • Mary is the daughter of Henry's first wife "Catherine of Aragon".
  • Elizabeth is the daughter of Henry's second wife "Anne Boleyn".
  • Mary and Elizabeth were declared "bastards" when their mothers were divorced.
  • But they appear in this picture because Henry had decided once more
  • to include them in the succession. And to do it moreover by act of
  • parliament. This laid down that the heir was first Edward. If he
  • died without heirs, second, Mary, and if she died without heirs,
  • third Elizabeth.
  • The seeds of more than a decade of trouble was sown.
  • Remarkably, Edward has left us his own account
  • of the turbulent years of his childhood. Written as if he were a character
  • in his own drama. [Edward VI] "The year
  • of our lord, 1537
  • to Prince Brawn, to King Harry the eighth
  • By Jane Seymour van queen"
  • [Narrator] When he was six, Edward was brought back here to "Hampton Court"
  • to begin his education. The ambition and scope of which
  • he faithfully recorded. [Edward VI] "The learning of tongues of the scripture,
  • of philosophy, and all liberal sciences."
  • [Narrator] He's already learned of course to read and write in English.
  • But not the serious business of teaching him Latin got underway.
  • His tutor was Dr. Richard Cox. Cox was an able man,
  • but he was also arrogant and dogmatic. and it's clear that the early encounters
  • between Cox and Edward were busing affairs. Literally so,
  • because Cox did not spare the birch on his princely pupil,
  • thus overcoming "his captain will" as he described.
  • But perhaps most importantly, Richard Cox was a protestant.
  • As were all of Edward's later tutors. And this was the faith which Edward himself
  • was passionately to adopt.
  • All across Europe, Protestantism was spreading from its original heartland in Germany.
  • It was more than just a different form of church service, it represented
  • a different way of seeing and experiencing the world.
  • Despite the dying Edward's heroic efforts of will, his
  • scheme for the succession failed. For Edward, preserving Protestantism
  • was all that mattered, but the English decided differently. They wanted
  • a real Tudor as the next monarch, and for that, they were prepared
  • for anything, even for Edward's worst nightmare. A return to
  • Catholic England.

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Edward inherited the throne when he was only nine, his quest to change England was to tear apart his family and his country.

Written and presented by Dr David Starkey, this is the compelling story of two of England's most striking monarchs: a brother and sister, tied by blood and affection, and torn apart by religion, power, and some of the bloodiest episodes in English history. Mary (who was to become England's first reigning Queen since Matilda but who is best known to generations of British schoolchildren as Bloody Mary) was the first born child of Henry VIII. For 20 years she was heir to her adored father. Then came the birth of her little half-brother Edward, and Mary found herself cast into the shadows, ignored by her father and declared illegitimate by Act of Parliament. Nonetheless she became very attached to the motherless boy, and he to her, declaring her his dearest sister. When Edward was just nine, their father died and the young boy became King, surrounded by advisors and further distanced from his beloved elder sister. But by now they were divided not just by power and status, but also by faith. Mary was a staunch Catholic, Edward a reforming Protestant: at this time such matters were not an issue of personal choice but matters of life or death, treason or heresy. Within a few years Mary was under virtual house arrest and banned from celebrating mass; within a few more years Edward was dead at the tragically early age of 16 and Mary became Queen. She set about making England a Catholic country once more and hundreds of Protestants, including Edward's most trusted advisors, were burnt at the stake because they refused to renounce their faith.

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Produced by Granada Media Group.