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Edward VI: The Lost King of England Paperback – 24 Jan 2008
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Skidmore leaves his reader convinced that Edward's reign is crucial in English history... he writes with clarity and verve (Hilary Mantel THE GUARDIAN (Book of the Week))
In his last year, after the death of Somerset, Edward... showed signs of emerging into a real king. (THE SPECTATOR)
This is an accomplished debut: measured, insightful and meticulously researched. (DAILY TELEGRAPH)
lively and engaging... his life makes a wonderful story, and this retelling is accomplished thoughtfully and with zest. (LITERARY REVIEW)
Skidmore weaves the densely packed dramas of his subject's reign into a thoroughly absorbing narrative. (SUNDAY TIMES)
a clear and compelling case for the crucial part played by this forgotten Tudor monarch in the history of England. (TRIBUNE)
A fascinating account of the least well known of Tudor monarchs (MILITARY ILLUSTRATED)
fresh and lively style... Skidmore's evident literary flair is never allowed to get in the way of sound historical judgements. (TLS)
We have long needed a biography of Edward VI which is both reliable and readable, and Skidmore's book now admirably fills the gap. (Diarmaid Macculloch)
This is an engaging and evocative portrait of Edward VI, which paints a fully rounded picture of the young King, filled with vivid detail. (Alison Weir) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The struggle for the soul of England after the death of Henry VIIISee all Product description
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Death is a recurring theme of this biography, and for a modern reader it is a sobering reminder of how different our world is from that of previous generations. Edward's mother (Jane Seymour) died soon after he was born of blood poisoning caused by poor hygiene. Edward probably died of TB.
I am grateful for modern medicine.
Edward led a gilded yet very constrained childhood, with little contact with his father. Educated from birth to be king he was unusually gifted, showing an intellectual flair that was extraordinary. He was also committed to the Reformation cause, with a conviction that intensified as he grew older. Reading this biography, one of the most striking things is the role that religion played in public and private life in the Tudor age. Everyone was a believer - and what they believed really mattered. Faith was at the centre of all life and activity in a way that is almost incomprehensible now. Following Henry's partial Reformation, the extent to which England would become truly Reformed, or slip back into Catholicism was the most crucial issue of the day, and Edward held all the promise of being "a new Josiah" who would lead his nation into a glorious new age.
As religion was so central to every aspect of life, the change from Catholicism to Protestantism had an impact on day to day life that is very hard for the modern mind to grasp. Reformation really did make everything different - the whole cycle of life and established pattern of being was turned on its head. And not everyone was happy with this change. It was also a time of economic change and turmoil, as wealthy landowners enclosed common land to turn it over to sheep production, leading to popular uprisings and great discontent.
In this religious and economic maelstrom Edward's council sought to hold the nation together, and jockey for power. Much of this story is the rivalry between the Dukes of Somerset and Northumberland. In the end, both were destroyed by their ambition, and lost their heads at the block.
The last Machiavellian twist of Edward's reign was a `devise' to disinherit his half sisters Mary and Elizabeth, and redirect the succession to the resolutely Protestant Lady Jane Grey. Jane was Queen for only nine days, before the council and the nation switched allegiance to Mary.
On Edwards death Calvin wrote that England had `been deprived of an incomparable treasure of which it was unworthy. By the death of one youth, the whole nation has been bereaved of the best of fathers.' Mary's rise to power meant the crushing of the Reformation, and the remorseless persecution of those who favoured it. What the course of history may have been had Edward enjoyed a long reign is a matter of fascinating conjecture.
Was that really the case? Here Chris Skidmore wants us to rethink and see Edward as an educated, quite brilliant, very serious young man who had all the Tudor tracts and had the qualities to be a great king. A bit one is dealing with the big "if-question".... if he would have lived, what would have been....Well, that is usually the question asked about the heirs to the throne who died before their accession. But Edward was king. That is a crucial difference. So there is more to judge Edward upon.
Our thinking about this child-king is corrupted by hindsight. Because he died young one seems to believe he was always sick, and a mere pawn of his advisers. But this is very wrong. Before his final illness there is no serious history of illness.
His reign marked the final transition to Protestantism. While Henry VIII had left the country in a religious limbo, Edward became the first protestant king, a development that the reign of Queen Mary could not revise and was finalized by Elisabeth. Edward was fully behind this. He was a "hard-core" protestant. Even his sombre, highly developed sense of duty and what seems like an impersonal coolness in his dealings with other people proves this. Of course his regents - the Dukes of Somerset and Northumberland - were the driving actual forces, but the king backed and supported this. Too young to assume the day-to-day work of government, did not mean for Edward to delegate the workings of his conscience. Therefore, the famous Device for the Succession which left the crown not to his half sisters but to his very protestant Cousin Lady Jane Grey is not that surprising. While the debate is not yet solved whether the Device originated with the Duke of Northumberland or the king himself, there is a huge possibility that the king was all behind it. At least he signed it and that meant something.
Chris Skidmore's book is a balanced and lively account of Edward's reign and personality. He guides the reader through the web of Tudor court politics and the serious religious disputes of the time. After having read this book one can not dismiss this king any longer as the sickly boy king, but sees indeed a man of much conviction and determination. He was after all a Tudor. His determination is however equally dangerous as the one of his half-sister Mary - him for Protestantism, she for Catholicism. Both do not have the greatness of their half-sister Elisabeth. In my assessment both would have never said a line like Elisabeth: There is only one God. The rest is trifle. Religious tolerance would not have been a trademark of Edward's reign had he lived as it was not a sign of Bloody Mary's rule.
All in all, after having read Skidmore's book one will never talk about a "lost king". It is great read - lively and engaging, painting a fully rounded picture of Edward VI.
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