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England's Boy King: The Diary of Edward VI, 1547-1553 Hardcover – 30 Jun 2005

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Ravenhall Books (30 Jun. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 190504304X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905043040
  • Product Dimensions: 22.5 x 14.1 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,042,517 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


In January 1547 a nine-year-old boy was proclaimed king of England. The young monarch, Edward VI, was the son of Henry VIII and all the power which that ruler had eagerly amassed found itself in the youthful hands of a frail and sickly child. That child, England's boy king, would last just six years on the throne before dying of tuberculosis and taking the hopes of many with him to the grave. Throughout Edward's short reign the young ruler kept a journal, a detailed diary recounting events in his kingdom. It is a fascinating record of Tudor England through the eyes of its monarch. The diary narrates all the momentous events in the young king's life but also observes the wider world, noting down news from England and keeping a watchful eye on Ireland, Scotland and mainland Europe. Edward reveals an increasing awareness as his reign progresses, showing an interest in religious reform, commerce and political machinations. He gleefully recounts the fate of traitors and rebels and ponders on the ups and downs of Scottish politics.

But he also notes down items which have a personal interest for him - an earthquake in Croydon in May 1551, presents from France, jousting on boats on the Thames. Sometimes naive, sometimes astute and calculating, the diary is a faithful record of six years in English history. An age in which political and religious parties rushed to secure their influence over the last of the Tudor kings whilst still darker forces wait in the wings, with religious revolution and rebellion never far away. Edward's diary is complete with explanatory and biographical notes and a detailed chronology, and is a fascinating record of astonishing times. It makes a delightful historical treasure and provides a wonderful insight into the life of an unfortunate Tudor.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. B. Hopewell on 14 Feb. 2009
Format: Hardcover
I was extremely pleased to find that the day after I ordered this book it was ready for me to read and in excellent condition! This book is a reliable and informative reference to events which happened during Edward's reign. The contents of his diary are not very personal and at times don't seem like a dairy at all, as Edward writes essentially about political and social issues, which one should expect if buying this book. I found myself a little disappointed that the footnotes did not explain some rather confusing parts of the text however they were really helpful in giving background information to events Edward comments on briefly. There are some nice pictures and some letters written by Edward inside to go with the text which was nice to find. The book is written in modern English and does not use old English spellings which I felt would be a nice touch.
Overall though I was very pleased with my purchase and the speed of delivery!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been after these journals for years. I was beginning to think they weren't available. Thank you very much.
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By William on 18 Sept. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
More for practical use but it adds to my library as well. Book arrived promptly and well up to expectations.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A fascinating first-hand account of Tudor England from Henry VIII's only son... 15 Mar. 2014
By ewomack - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
King Henry VIII changed England forever. One of England's most famous - or maybe most infamous - kings, he longed for a male heir to carry on the Tudor lineage. Many of course know about his dramatic and sometimes brutal relationships with his numerous wives, catalyzed by his lack of an heir, and his turning from Catholic Rome by establishing Anglicanism. Fewer, especially outside of the United Kingdom, seem to know that he actually produced an heir and that this heir reigned for only a half dozen years and died at the age of 15. This heir, Edward VI, was the last Tudor King. His early death cleared the throne for his half sisters: the even more infamous Queen Mary I and the much celebrated Queen Elizabeth I. Following the childless Elizabeth's death in 1603, the Tudor dynasty passed to the Stuarts and Henry VIII's direct lineage ended. His legacy now lays with his daughters, not with his only son. Seeing that Edward VI was a mere nine years old when crowned and that England was ruled largely by a Council during his brief reign, he now seems mostly lost in the shadow of his more dominant father and sisters. But a lot happened during Edward's reign and, most surprisingly, Edward kept a diary, which the book "England's Boy King" presents in its entirety.

The word "diary" has modern connotations that do not exactly fit the "diary" of Edward VI. Today, the word often suggests a deeply personal or introspective reflection upon one's own life. Those seeking such intimate details in the diary of Edward VI will only find disappointment. Edward writes in a precocious, largely detached, impersonal style and sometimes even refers to himself in the third person. This is the antithesis of a "confession" a la Augustine or Rousseau. Instead, Edward delineates his reign's major political and social events, the details of which he often must have received second-hand. As such, the diary reads more like the Anglo-Saxon chronicle than a memoir, though shades of memoir do appear scattered throughout. And even though Edward wrote the diary as a teenage monarch not yet come of age, it nonetheless remains a fascinating primary account of Tudor England.

Each section covers an entire year and the entire book spans from the year 1547, the year of his coronation, to 1552. Edward wrote the early and much shorter chapters in retrospect. The final section, 1552, ends in November, cut short by his greatly deteriorating health, which he does not mention, and he died in July, 1553. On April 2, 1552 he does mention falling "sick with the measles and the smallpox," an unpleasant combination in any century, but he recovered.

Early on, Edward refers to himself with the third person "he" when describing his birth, ascension to the throne and his coronation. At this point he writes his own history in the style of a historian. Probably self-fulfilling prophecy, since the people surrounding him likely treated him as living history. Or perhaps he simply followed the tone of other histories he had read. He was only twelve. A single page sums up 1548 and the third person officially ends in 1549 with the intriguing passage: "Meanwhile, because there was a rumour that I was dead, I passed through London." Specific dates appear beginning in 1550. Each day's text varies in length from a single phrase (May 22nd, 1551 simply reads "He departed") to multiple paragraphs. Some passages appear out of order, the introduction explains, due to new reports, insights or remembrances and the relatively slow travel time of 16th century news.

Some fascinating stories unravel in these few years. For one, the rise and fall of the Duke of Somerset, the first leader of the Council, ends with his execution and Edward's nonchalant and seemingly emotionless single-line entry of January 22nd, 1552. Edward also relates, in some detail, the capture and trial of Somerset and his co-conspirators. Other grisly executions occur, such as the burning of Joan Boucher in 1550. Wars and skirmishes with the Scots, the French, the Irish and negotiations with the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, referred to as "The Emperor," also fill many pages. One of the most contentious debates involved "The Lady Mary," or the future Queen Mary I, who refused to give up Catholicism in defiance of English law. The powerful and Catholic Charles V even threatened war against England on this issue if England continued to deny Mary the right to take mass. This remains one of the narrative's most dramatic interwoven threads. During a visit on March 18, 1551, Edward demanded that Mary obey him and tells her, ominously, that "her example might breed too much inconvenience." Mary never gave in.

England's economy faltered in Edward's time and on August 18, 1551, Edward writes: "The shilling fell from nine pence to six pence, the groat from three pence to two pence, the twopence to a penny, the penny to a halfpenny, the halfpenny to a farthing, etc." One doesn't need to know the denominations of the day to realize the severity of this devaluation. Henry VIII debased the coinage, and Edward's council followed suit until 1551 when they issued fine silver coins, the designs of which are described on September 24th, 1551. The crowns and halfcrowns issued in that year were the first English coins to feature dates using modern Arabic numerals. June 1551 also features an interesting, and slightly amusing, negotiation between England and France for a marriage between Edward and the French King's oldest daughter, "Lady Elizabeth." After much squabbling, mostly about money, this arrangement never came to fruition, of course.

As the introduction states, Edward's original 16th century English was updated somewhat for this volume. Many modern English readers may find the original text a little taxing, though probably not insurmountable. As such, this edition was meant to make Edward's diary comprehensible even to general readers. Still, not all Tudor era elements were removed, so the text retains a sufficiently historical feel throughout.

A short epilogue outlining Edward's final months appears after the final entries for 1552. This briefly describes the famously tragic story of Lady Jane Grey, who Edward declared as his successor in his "Devise (sic) for the succession" written shortly before his death - presumably to keep the defiantly Catholic Mary from ascending to the throne. This failed miserably, particularly for Lady Jane. A modernized copy of this document would have rounded out this book nicely. Instead, the book ends with three letters of Edward, which reveal a different side, or at least a different writing style. In the letter to Catherine Parr, Henry VIII's sixth and final wife, Edward writes in an outwardly religious manner in stark contrast to his diary. Edward was devoutly Protestant, but one could almost be excused for thinking him a secularist by reading his diary alone, especially in juxtaposition to the three letters. This may raise the question whether Edward intended his diary only for personal use as it is not infused with the overtly religious pronouncements and references of the day. Other sources may help answer this question since the diary, fascinating and entertaining as it is, doesn't reveal much personal information about the little known Tudor King, Edward VI. Nonetheless, it remains a must read for English history fans, especially those seeking primary sources.
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