Edward VI (1537-1553)

The longed-for son of Henry VIII and his third wife Jane Seymour, Edward was not the frail child his early death suggests but a sturdy and self-confident teenager, on the verge of assuming full power when an ordinary chill turned to pulmonary pneumonia through the incompetence of his doctors. Passionate about the Protestant religion, Edward attempted to prevent the succession of his Catholic half-sister Mary by leaving the crown to his cousin Lady Jane Grey. Unfortunately his pathetic 'devys for the succession' did not have the force of parliamentary statute, unlike his father's will. The attempt of his loyal adviser, John Dudley, duke of Northumberland, to enforce it led to Mary's victory and Lady Jane's execution. Edward's diary provides a unique insight into the thoughts of a boy who was very ordinary in some ways yet always conscious of his high destiny.