Front Matter Early Times The Druids The Britons Caesar in Britain Queen Boadicea The Great Walls The Great Irish Saint The Anglo-Saxons Brave King Arthur The Laws of the Saxons The Story of St Augustine Three Great Men The Danish Pirates King Alfred and the Cakes Alfred conquers the Danes A King's Narrow Escape The King and the Outlaw The Monasteries An Unlucky Couple St Dunstan King Canute and the Waves A Saxon Nobleman Lady Godiva's Ride The Battle of Hastings The Conquest Lords and Vassals Death of William The Brothers' Quarrels Arms and Armour The "White Ship" Matilda's Narrow Escapes Story of Fair Rosamond Thomas a Becket Murder of Thomas a Becket Richard's Adventures Richard and the Saracens The Faithful Minstrel Death of Richard The Murder of Arthur The Great Charter The Rule of Henry III A Race Persecution of the Jews The Conquest of Wales A Quarrel with France The Coronation Stone The Insolent Favourite Bruce and the Spider Death of Edward II The Murderers punished The Battle of Crecy The Siege of Calais The Age of Chivalry The Battle of Poitiers The Peasants' Revolt Richard's Presence of Mind A Tiny Queen Henry's Troubles Madcap Harry A Glorious Reign The Maid of Orleans The War of the Roses The Queen and the Brigand The Triumph of the Yorks The Princes in the Tower Richard's Punishment Two Pretenders A Grasping King Field of the Cloth of Gold The New Opinions Death of Wolsey Henry's Wives The King and the Painter A Boy King Lady Jane Grey The Death of Cranmer A Clever Queen Elizabeth's Lovers Mary, Queen of Scots Captivity of Mary Stuart Wreck of the Spanish Armada The Elizabethan Age Death of Elizabeth A Scotch King The Gunpowder Plot Sir Walter Raleigh King and Parliament Cavaliers and Roundheads "Remember" The Royal Oak The Commonwealth The Restoration Plague and Fire The Merry Monarch James driven out of England A Terrible Massacre William's Wars The Duke of Marlborough The Taking of Gibraltar The South Sea Bubble Bonny Prince Charlie Black Hole of Calcutta Loss of the Colonies The Battle of the Nile Nelson's Last Signal The Battle of Waterloo First Gentleman of Europe Childhood of Queen Victoria The Queen's Marriage Wars in Victoria's Reign The Jubilee

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

A Boy King

Edward VI. was only nine years old when he was crowned King of England. His father, Henry VIII., had decided that until he was old enough to reign alone, the government should be in the hands of Cranmer and a council. But as soon as the king was dead, the Duke of Somerset was named Protector of England.

The little king was a gentle, lovable, and studious child. He had been brought up in the new religious ideas, and liked nothing better than to study theology or to listen to long sermons. As he was very delicate and needed a great deal of fresh air, his favourite preacher, the reformer Latimer, had a pulpit placed out in the garden under a tree, so that Edward could enjoy sermons out of doors.

All the little king's teachers were Protestants, and they said he was a remarkably studious lad. They must have been right; for some of his Latin exercises have been kept, and they are unusually good for a boy of his age.

Although Cranmer was not allowed to govern, he was given authority to make any changes he thought desirable in the religion of the country. He therefore, in accordance with his Protestant ideas, stopped all Latin services, and arranged a Book of Common Prayer, almost the same as that still in use to-day in the Church of England and in the Episcopal Church in America.

Although the king was so kind that he hated to pain any one, and shed tears whenever he was forced to sign a death-warrant, he became very angry with his sister Mary, because she would not change her religion. He forbade her to hear mass in public. But in spite of all he said, Mary continued firm and would never consent to listen to any of his favourite sermons.

While King Edward VI. was busy with his books and studies, the Duke of Somerset governed the kingdom; and as he was a zealous Protestant, he took the pictures and statues out of the churches, closed up many monasteries and convents, and told the monks and nuns to go out into the world and earn their living. The money he took from the religious houses was used to found schools and hospitals, or given to new lords.

Most of the monks and nuns had been so good to the poor people near them, that the latter grumbled sorely when they saw these holy men and women in need. Twice during Edward's short reign the peasants revolted, and twice they had to be put down by force.

But in spite of this resistance, the Protestant movement went on; and while under Henry VIII. the people had practised the Catholic religion, without a pope, they now had a distinctly Protestant form of worship. All had to worship as the king wished, or suffer punishment. Two important persons refused to obey; but while one of them, Bishop Gardiner, was imprisoned, the other, the king's sister, was allowed to hear mass in her own room.

The Duke of Somerset soon thought it time that the marriage between the young king and Mary, Queen of Scots, should take place. But as most of the Scotch were still good Catholics, they did not want their sovereign to marry a Protestant. Somerset decided to force them to obey; and, using the pretext that some of the border men had fought against the English, he invaded Scotland.

The English army marched almost to Edinburgh, where it met a very large Scotch force. Somerset, frightened, offered peace; but the Scotchmen felt so sure of victory that they would not accept it. To their surprise, they were completely beaten, at Pinkie, and lost ten thousand men, while the English lost only three hundred.

Among the prisoners taken during the fight was a Scotch nobleman. Somerset asked him why he objected to the match between the English king and the Scotch queen, and he answered quickly: "I dislike not the match, but I hate the manner of the wooing."

Trouble having arisen in England, Somerset made peace with Scotland. But the little queen was sent over to France, so as to be out of reach of the English, and to be brought up in a Roman Catholic country. In time she became Queen of France, for she married Francis II.

On coming back to England, Somerset discovered that his own brother had been plotting against him. Influenced by the bad advice of a son of the lawyer Dudley (who before long was made Duke of Northumberland), Somerset accused his brother of treason, and had him arrested, tried, condemned, and executed. Soon after this, Northumberland, taking advantage of the discontent among the poor, who were grumbling because the protector was building a new palace, accused Somerset of high treason. It was he who was now arrested, tried, sentenced, and executed, just as his brother had been.

Edward was only thirteen at the time, so the power was placed in the hands of Northumberland. The latter soon noticed that the king would probably not live long, and he became anxious that the crown should pass into his own family. With this purpose in view, he told the little king that he ought to make a will.

You know that Parliament had decreed, during the reign of Henry, that neither Mary nor Elizabeth should reign; but later on the same body had said that Henry could leave the throne to any one he wished. Henry had therefore said that the crown should pass in turn to Edward, Mary, Elizabeth, and then to the Suffolks if all his children died childless. To induce Edward to make a will, Northumberland said that if Mary became queen the Catholic religion would again be introduced. He added that if Mary were set aside Elizabeth must be also, although she was a Protestant, and coaxed Edward to make a will in favour of Lady Jane Grey, one of the Suffolks, who had married Northumberland's son Dudley.

Edward VI., who was failing fast, yielded to these entreaties, and made a will which was witnessed by Cranmer. Shortly after that, the doctors having vainly tried to cure him, Northumberland placed him under the care of an ignorant old woman, who vowed she could make him well. But instead of gaining strength, Edward soon died, praying that the reformed religion might continue in England. Some people believe that he was the victim of consumption; but others, who hated Northumberland, began to whisper that the latter had poisoned the prince, so that Dudley might reign.