Edward VI: the pitiless king
Did the young king revel in his uncle’s disgrace?
We can’t be sure what was going through Edward’s mind as Seymour lurched from one disaster to the next in the autumn of 1549. But an extract from his diary gives us a clue. In it the king relates how the London councillors sent him “A very gentle letter… to declare [the Protector’s] faults, ambitions, vainglory, entering into rash wars in my youth… enriching himself from my treasure, following his own opinions and doing all by his own authority, etc. [The next day] the lords came to Windsor, took him and brought him through Holborn to the Tower.” Edward’s tone is emotionless, with no suggestion of regret for his uncle’s fate. So did he resent Seymour’s control?
Edward was an orphan. The boy’s only close relatives were his uncles, Edward and Thomas Seymour. In the game of thrones that was Tudor politics, they both played for the highest stakes. Thomas was a charmer. He married Henry VIII’s widow, Katherine Parr, and had designs on Princess Elizabeth. He also courted the boy king’s friendship by giving him money and pointing out how badly the protector treated him.
As for Edward Seymour, he kept young Edward on a tight rein, restricting access to his royal charge and planting spies in the royal household who informed him about everyone who approached the king.
The tactic may have worked in the short term. But Edward VI, no less than Seymour himself, took the wilful Henry VIII as his model. Now, it appears that he was ready to cast off Seymour’s avuncular tutelage.
Edward VI seems to have been totally untroubled by Seymour’s downfall