Edward VI: The Boy King. Written and presented by Dr David Starkey, this is the compelling story of two of England's most striking monarchs: Edward VI and Queen Mary - a brother and sister, tied by blood and affection, and torn apart by religion, power and some of the bloodiest episodes in English history. When Edward was just nine, their father died and the young boy became king, but was surrounded by advisors and further distanced from his beloved elder sister. By now they were divided not just by power and status, but also by faith. Mary was a staunch Catholic, Edward a reforming Protestant. At this time such matters were not an issue of personal choice but matters of life or death, treason or heresy. In this first film, Edward VI: The Boy King, Starkey retraces Edward's early years, examining his impact during his short reign and speculating what might have happened if the highly intelligent boy had lived.
Edward VI (12 October 1537 -- 6 July 1553) was the King of England and Ireland from 28 January 1547 until his death. He was crowned on 20 February at the age of nine. The son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, Edward was the third monarch of the Tudor dynasty and England's first monarch who was raised as a Protestant. During Edward's reign, the realm was governed by a Regency Council, because he never reached maturity. The Council was first led by his uncle Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, (1547--1549), and then by John Dudley, 1st Earl of Warwick, from 1551 Duke of Northumberland (1550--1553).
Edward's reign was marked by economic problems and social unrest that, in 1549, erupted into riot and rebellion. An expensive war with Scotland, at first successful, ended with military withdrawal from there and Boulogne-sur-Mer in exchange for peace. The transformation of the Anglican Church into a recognisably Protestant body also occurred under Edward, who took great interest in religious matters. Although Henry VIII had severed the link between the Church of England and Rome, he never permitted the renunciation of Catholic doctrine or ceremony. It was during Edward's reign that Protestantism was established for the first time in England with reforms that included the abolition of clerical celibacy and the Mass and the imposition of compulsory services in English. The architect of these reforms was Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, whose Book of Common Prayer has proved lasting.
In February 1553, at age 15, Edward fell ill. When his sickness was discovered to be terminal, he and his Council drew up a "Devise for the Succession", attempting to prevent the country being returned to Catholicism. Edward named his cousin Lady Jane Grey as his heir and excluded his half sisters, Mary and Elizabeth. However, this was disputed following Edward's death and Jane was queen for only nine days before Edward's half-sister, Mary, was proclaimed Queen. She reversed Edward's Protestant reforms, which nonetheless beca