Monday, October 12, 2015

GLORIANA! The ABC's of the Reign of Our Most Gracious Sovereign Elizabeth E is for Edward VI

12 October, 1537 saw Henry VIII the happiest he'd been in years.
On that day, his third wife, Jane Seymour, after being in labor for hours that stretched into days and nights, she pushed out Henry's living, healthy, and most important of all, legitimate son.
"Legitimate? Check. First son? Check. (Sorta) I got this one, folks." 
Wasting no time, the newborn prince was christened three days later at his birthplace, Hampton Court Palace.
There is an excellent BBC Two video, Britain's Tudor Treasure: A Night at Hampton Court in which the viewer is taken to a re-enactment of the festivities surrounding the christening of the little prince - anybody with an interest in Tudor history will find it the next best thing to having been there.

Prince Edward's half-sisters, Lady Mary and Lady Elizabeth, participated in his christening; the arrival of a male heir to their father's throne took the edge off their father, the King, and allowed him to chill a bit - which he definitely needed.
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"You're good, dude - she popped a boy for you." 
The joy of the birth was quickly followed by grief.
Prince Edward's mother, Jane Seymour, died within two weeks; a consequence of childbirth that was all too common in the sixteenth century.
Henry VIII wailed and grieved over the death of his malleable, quiet-spirited wife - the first of his three wives who not only gave him a boy, but who also wouldn't have said shit if she'd had a mouthful. 
Henry valued compliance in the women he wed; it was one thing for a mistress to have a mouth on her (hello, Anne Boleyn!!) but it was quite another for his wife to sass him.Image result for bitchy sassy wife

Prince Edward was, no surprises here, adored, indulged, and above all, healthy.
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As he grew from infant to toddler to little boy, he and his half-sisters forged family relationships based on love.
That was a bit of a departure for both half-sisters as Lady Mary had been yanked from her mother and then bastardized by her father while Lady Elizabeth had survived her mother's execution and then was also bastardized.
Love is always true and there is no doubt that all three of Henry VIII's legitimate children loved each other.

When Prince Edward got to the ripe old age of seven years old, Henry VIII arranged to have him engaged to be married to the seven months old Mary Queen of Scots.
After three years, though, the whole thing went to hell and Henry's reaction was to wage war on Scottish residents in a series of raids called (get this) 'the Rough Wooing.' Image result for slapping
It's funny 'cause it's true.

Prince Edward and Lady Elizabeth initially shared a nursery, then, as they grew up, they shared the very best tutors in the land.
At an age where children today are dinking around with 'invented spelling' and maths lessons called 'Common Core' which is an invented name for bullshit instruction of incomprehensible 'math facts,' 
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Prince Edward and Lady Elizabeth were writing prose in Latin, speaking Greek, and reading from the works of Plato.
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In the afternoons, once they'd finished their studies for the day, Prince Edward went off to learn the sports that were training for the battlefield, and Lady Elizabeth played music, read, or spent her time in otherwise acceptable lady-like activities. 

When Henry VIII died on 28 January, 1547, Edward Seymour, brother to Jane and Uncle Edward to the prince collected his nephew and brought him to be with Lady Elizabeth, where he broke the news that their father was dead.
Predictably, the children (Edward, aged nine, and Elizabeth, aged thirteen) began crying - but the depth of their grief surprised the adults around them.
They cried for hours while hugging one another.

For Elizabeth, her father - the only person who kept her safe in an extremely unsafe time - was the larger-than-life personality whose strength was her strength - was now gone.
For Prince Edward, nine years old, not only did he lose his dad, he'd gained his throne - and that was seriously scary.
Henry VIII's death was a piece of news so huge that it wasn't even announced for several days - Prince Edward became Edward VI on 31 January, 1547.
His coronation followed in February.
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Little boy, huge stage. Break a leg, kid. 
Meanwhile, his uncles Edward and Thomas Seymour, mined Henry VIII's Device for Succession for every single goody they could award themselves.

Very soon, the conservative men from Henry VIII's reign were tossed out on their ear - men like Thomas Howard - while Edward Seymour grabbed the title of Lord Protector and his brother Thomas settled for Lord High Admiral.
Along with any courtiers in their favor, the two men pushed the Protestant agenda so hard that the country started to split - pitting Roman Catholics against Protestants - and at the same time, the Lord High Admiral talked shit about the Lord Protector behind his back to the young king.

Oh, and just to hit the kid where he knew he'd listen, the Lord High Admiral also made a big show of slipping the king pocket money while telling him his Lord Protector was keeping the truth about how much pocket money was available to the king.
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And that just shows how young this kid was, as well as what a complete turd his Uncle Thomas Seymour had turned out to be.
At the same time, the turd the Lord High Admiral did his best to teasingly try to get into the knickers of Elizabeth; hedging his bets that one day she might rule the land, or, at the very least, she'd still be the king's sister.Image result for dirty uncle

It should come as no surprise when Thomas Seymour, deciding things weren't going his way fast enough, came up with a hare-brained scheme to kidnap Edward VI.
In the dead of night, Seymour sneaked into Edward VI's room.
Then, like a script from a TV show, the kid's dog barked its head off, alerting everyone to Seymour's stupidity.
Seymour shot the dog.

Edward VI later signed the execution warrant for Thomas Seymour, and recorded it in his diary.
The kid was unbelievably good at keeping up his diary - most kids get a diary ("Oooh, it's got a LOCK and everything!!") and fill it in haphazardly; not Edward VI.
He was consistent with it.
He also wrote letters in Latin to Elizabeth; he loved both of his sisters and it pained him to no end that his older sister Mary was so very Catholic in his kingdom where the religion was so Protestant.
In the long-standing tradition of family fights over the holidays, Edward ripped Mary a new one at Christmas of 1550, called her a heretic and got so frustrated he cried.
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By then he was teen-aged. 
He was attending council meetings.
He was signing his name to royal warrants.
He was still keeping up those diary entries.
He showed every sign of turning out to be a strong (if a tad overly-sensitive about the whole Protestant issue) ruler with brains, judgment and the expectation that he would be obeyed in all matters.
In short, he had the right equipment to be one heck of a good king. 
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Then, in April 1552, he caught measles.
He didn't shake the virus as quickly as most kids; it lingered and hung around, making him low energy and sort of a wastoid.
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Eventually, though, he bounced back and was in decent-enough health - for a while.
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Also in 1552 and following in what was apparently a Seymour family tradition, the Lord Protector Edward Seymour also attempted a kidnapping of the king.
Like his brother, he ate it at the executioner's block.
Two blood uncles, both of whom attempted using their nephew for their own gains - and not just sliding a few castles into the wording of a warrant; they tried kidnapping him.
No wonder the kids of the Tudor family had trust issues.

In 1553, Edward VI once again got sick.
He came down with a respiratory ailment that sucked every bit of life out of him.
At age fifteen, having ruled England for over five years of his childhood, he knew he might not recover.
He wrote his own Device for Succession, overriding his late father's wishes by passing his throne to the Protestant family of his cousin, the Greys.
Not taking any chances that Mary would undo all the religious changes he'd kept in place, he not only didn't include her, he also dissed Elizabeth.

On July, 1553, Edward VI died.
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There was fallout.
Lady Jane Grey reluctantly agreed to follow Edward VI as monarch as per his wishes.
Mary, who had a score or two to settle with her late father's bastardization of her, and his will, as well as with his religion, thundered into London with enough armed men to let everybody know she meant business.
Her plan worked; Parliament agreed with her, and Lady Jane Grey went to the Tower.
Eventually, Lady Jane Grey was beheaded under Mary's orders - but not until Mary was really pushed.
Say what you will about 'Bloody Mary,' she had scruples all over the place and she may have been a fanatic, but she also walked her talk.

Elizabeth, having buried the only remaining family member who was anything like kind to her, began living a nightmare.
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"I'm living in a fucking nightmare," quoth Elizabeth, prisoner.
Accusations, threat of execution, imprisonment, dealing with spies and defending herself against charges of espionage - all thanks to her half-sister who now sat on the throne of England.
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"That's right, Elizabeth, I'm in charge now." 
Edward VI had the makings of a very good king.
As always, when potential is denied due to a life cut short, it's so damn poignant - and so damn unalterable. 

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