Edward VI came to the throne aged nine and died only six years later, yet those six years were crucial in completing Henry VIII's break with Rome. Despite the influence of his ambitious uncle and Lord Protector - the Duke of Somerset - the young king soon proved adept at manipulating his image, developed his own theological agenda and openly confronted his Catholic half-sister Mary. His key religious innovations, most notably Cranmer's two different versions of the Book of Common Prayer, were taken up by Queen Elizabeth as foundation stones for her Reformation church settlement, the basis of later Anglicanism. Edward's reign has often been treated as a minor interlude in the great dramas of the Tudor era; this book restores it to its true complexity and significance.
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Already acclaimed for his masterly biography Thomas Cranmer: A Life, winner of the 1996 Whitbread Biography Award, in Tudor Church Militant Diarmaid MacCulloch has turned his attention to one of Cranmer's sovereigns, the last of the male Tudors, Henry VIII's only son, King Edward VI. Ascending to the throne at the age of nine in 1547, by 1553 the delicate young king was dead, plunging the kingdom into political and religious turmoil.
From the outset of this absorbing biography MacCulloch asks "Is Edward's reign a drama worth observing? Often it has been treated as a rather confused entr'acte for the two set-piece spectaculars of Henrician and Elizabethan England". His answer is an emphatic and persuasive "yes". MacCulloch proceeds to offer a readable yet painstakingly researched account of the ways in which Edward's reign was characterised by a remarkable religious evangelism, as the young king consolidated his father's split from Rome and the creation of a specifically English Protestantism. MacCulloch argues that "the Reformation of 1547 to 1553 carried out in Edward's name was a revolutionary act, a dynamic assault upon the past, a struggle to the death between Christ and Antichrist".
The story he proceeds to tell tends to lose sight of Edward the man, focusing instead on the doctrinal passions of this most precocious of young kings, the introduction of the controversial Book of Common Prayer of 1549, the jostling for power among the likes of Cranmer, Cecil, Somerset and Dudley, and the political crisis of 1549 which threatened to unseat Edward. However, this focus on the religious issues at the heart of Edward's reign is MacCulloch's explicit interest from the outset, and is elegantly concluded in his final chapter on "The Afterlife of the Edwardian Revolution". A challenging, elegant and persuasive biography of an unjustly neglected king. --Jerry Brotton
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Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: Very Good. The book has been read, but is in excellent condition. Pages are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine remains undamaged. Bookseller Inventory # GOR003269989