Edward VI, the only surviving son of King Henry VIII, was England's first Protestant king. Though his father had broken the link between English Catholicism and Rome, it was in Edward's reign that the decisive move was made from Catholicism to a form of Protestantism which came to be known as Anglicanism.
Edward VI was born on October 12, 1537, the son of Jane Seymour, who died a few days later. The boy's father, Henry VIII, was delighted by his birth, but devastated by the death of his third wife. Henry had long hoped for a male heir, but the boy turned out to be sickly (in fact, Edward suffered from congenital syphilis, passed on by his father) and he was not expected to have a long life, leading Henry to re-marry quickly in the hope of fathering more healthy children.
When Edward came to the throne at age nine, his uncle, Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset (1506 - 1552), became regent, consigning the boy to a purely ceremonial role. The story of Edward's reign is that of a number of nobles attempting to take over as Lord Protector. Somerset was removed from office by the efforts of John Dudley, Earl of Warwick and later Duke of Northumberland. The latter took power, and Seymour was executed for treason. The other major figure of Edward's reign was Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, who forged ahead with the Protestant impetus begun during the reign of Edward's father. The first prayer book in English was published in 1548 - the Book of Common Prayer.
By the time of his death, on July 6, 1553, 15 year old Edward was enough the master of his own destiny to have concerns about the succession. He had been brought up a Protestant and had no wish to see England revert to Catholicism. This led him to support the claim to the throne of Northumberland's daughter-in-law and puppet, Lady Jane Grey, against his own half-sister, Mary.
King Edward VI is buried at Westminster Abbey.
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