Edward VI by Jennifer Loach
The book Edward VI by Jennifer Loach has a very sad story. The author died of cancer before being able to complete the book, so two other historians edited the book using material she prepared. It is also thanks to George Bernard and Penry Williams that we can enjoy this wonderful book.
Before reading the book I didn’t know much about Edward VI. I knew, obviously, about his pedigree and how long he reigned, and I thought I also knew that he was a sickly child that was also very pious. While this is what the popular opinion thinks due to the well known The Actes and Monuments by Foxe (Book of Martyrs), that shaped the general view not only about Edward’s reign, but also about Mary’s. That book was written by a protestant with a clear agenda in mind, using it for propaganda.
Edward reigned for only six years, having two protectors. The first one was Somerset, his uncle Edward Seymour. It was interesting to read about Edward’s relation with his other uncle, Thomas, who was executed two years into his reign. Somerset was also executed, in 1552. Besides this, due to the fencing of common land by landlords for their own use, Kett’s Rebellion in Norfolk started in 1549. The aftermath is quite surprising, as this revolt is not widely known. Over 3,000 people died, either in battle or executed.
Edward was a bright child, learning many languages, as it was expected of a future king in the 16th century. He was also very keen on physical pursuits, like hunting. He enjoyed jousting as well. This surely doesn’t look like the image I had of him and I’m very glad I’ve read this book. While his faith was, naturally, the same as his father’s and his uncle’s, he was not as pious as we might think. The book of common prayer was published in 1549 and Edward was 11 at that time. It was prepared by a committee under Cranmer and pass through the Parliament. I imagine Edward’s input was minimal.
I recommend this book because it was fascinating to read and lovely written.
Edward VI by Jennifer Loach
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My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: Yes
Published by: Yale University Press
Year it was published: 1999
About the author: Jennifer Loach was a Fellow and Tutor in Modern History at Somerville College, Oxford. She started as a historian specialized in parliament and more specifically in the Marian parliaments. She went on to study the reigns of Mary I and Edward VI. In 1988, Loach was commissioned to write this book for Yale University Press and spent the last years of her life solely concentrating on its writing and publication. Unfortunately, she died, aged 49, before this book was completed.
Using her notes and computer disks that her husband made available, Penry Williams and George Bernard, a student of Loach’s, finished the book for her. They discussed details about the narrative she envisaged for the book, so they were in a great position to be able to construct the book as she would have had.
Books by Jennifer Loach: The Mid-Tudor Polity c. 1540-1560; Parliament Under the Tudors; Mary Tudor; Protector Somerset.
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