Edward Seymour - Historical Profile
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|The History |
1506 - 1552 (46 yrs)
In 1552 all honours were forfeited with his execution.
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This is thought to be a likeness of Edward Seymour although according to art historian Roy Strong, there is only one absolutely certain portrait of Seymour, the miniature painted by Nicholas Hilliard at the top of this page, in 1560 from an earlier painting.
NPG - Originally thought to be Edward Seymour ...
now labelled unknown
|When King Henry VIII died in 1547 Seymour was named as executor of the will. Edward Tudor was too young to rule and Seymour was appointed by the Council of Regency as Protector of the Realm. He was also given the title of Duke of Somerset. |
Once he held power, Seymour resumed the war in Scotland and won an important victory at Pinkie on 10th September, 1547. However, establishing English garrisons was highly expensive.
The Duke of Somerset was a Protestant and he soon began to make changes to the Church of England. This included the introduction of an English Prayer Book and the decision to allow members of the clergy to get married. Attempts were made to destroy those aspects of religion that were associated with the Catholic church, for example, the removal of stained-glass windows in churches and the destruction of religious wall-paintings.
Seymour also showed concern for the poor and on 14 June 1549, he persuaded King Edward to pardon all those people who had torn down hedges enclosing common land. Many landless people thought that this meant that their king disapproved of enclosures. All over the country people began to destroy hedges that landowners had used to enclose common land.
This led to the Kett Rebellion in Norfolk. The mayor of Norwich refused to let Kett's army enter the city. However, Robert Kett and his men, armed with spears, swords and pitchforks, successfully stormed the city walls. The English government were shocked when they heard that Kett and his rebels controlled the second largest city in England.
Robert Kett formed a governing council made up of representatives from the villages that had joined the revolt. This council then sent details of their demands to King Edward. Seymour responded by sending John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, and a large army to defeat Kett.
The Privy Council became concerned that Seymour's policies were leading to a popular uprising. In October, 1549, he was removed from power and imprisoned in the Tower of London.
Seymour was released in 1550 and allowed to return to the Privy Council. Seymour soon got involved in a conspiracy and he was once again arrested. Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, was found guilty of treason and executed on 22nd January, 1552.
|Account of Somerset's execution was made by Henry Machyn, a London undertaker:|
"On 22 January, soon after 8 o'clock in the morning, the duke of Somerset was beheaded on Tower Hill. There was as great a company as has been seen... the king's guard being there with their halberds and a thousand more with halberds of the privilege of the Tower, Ratcliffe, Limehouse, Whitechapel, St Katherine's and Stratford Bow, as well as Hoxton and Shoreditch; and the two sheriffs being present there, seeing the execution of my lord, and his head being cut off, and shortly after his body was put into a coffin and carried into the Tower, and there buried in the church, on the northside of the choir of St Peter's, and I beseech God to have mercy on his soul, amen!
And there was a sudden rumbling a little before he died, as if it had been guns shooting and great horses coming, so that a thousand fell to the ground for fear, for they who were at one side thought no other but that one was killing another, so that they fell down to the ground, one upon another with their halberds, some fell into the ditch of the Tower and other places, and a hundred into the Tower ditch, and some ran away for fear."
<a class="external" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Somerset_House_by_Kip_1722.JPG" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="Old Somerset House, shown here in a drawing by Jan Kip published in 1722, was a sprawling and irregular complex with wings from different periods in a mixture of styles. The buildings behind all four square gardens belong to Somerset House."></a>
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Somerset House today