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REIGN OF EDWARD VI., 1546-1553.




EDWARD VI., the only surviving son of Henry VIII., and the only child of Jane Seymour, wa proclaimed king January 31st, 1546-47. Edward was born October 12th, 1537, and had been most carefully educated.* His reign, though short, is memorable, for during it the Reformation was fully consummated, so far as the church of England was concerned.

Yet, it is not a reign of which Englishmen, not even English churchmen, re particularly proud.

* Strype, in his Ecclesiastical Memorials, gives a list of Edward's teachers, “ happily chosen, being both truly learned, sober, wise, and all favorers of the gospel.” First, Cranmer, his godfather, had a sort of general supervision of his education ; Sir Anthony Cook, famous for his five learned daughters ; Dr. Richard Cox, “a very reverend divine, some time moderator of the school of Eaton, afterwards dean of Christ's Church, Oxford, and chancellor of that university," who instructed him in Christian manners, as well as other learning. In Latin and Greek he had as a teacher “ that most accomplished scholar, Sir John Cheke, once public reader of Greek in Cambridge," and John Belmair for the French. These were his principal teachers. • Other masters attended on him for other tongues. But Cheke did most constantly reside with him." - Vol. II. pt. I. ch. 1, pp. 13-16.

was no more.

Henry had carefully arranged a plan for the gov. ernment of England during his son's minority, vainly hoping to reign by his will when he himself

To this end, he appointed sixteen executors, to be regents of the kingdom until Edward was eighteen years old, assisted by twelve privy councillors, who were also named. But if Henry forgot that he should cease to be king when he ceased to live, and that when he ceased to be king he would neither be feared nor obeyed, his subjects did not; and one of the first acts of these executors and councillors, on assuming the government of the kingdom, was to depart materially from the late king's will by appointing one of their number to be Protector; who should represent the king, and be at the head of the government, though without authority to act independently of his coadjutors, the executors and councillors. Their choice fell on the Earl of Hertford, afterwards created Duke of Somerset, Edward's maternal uncle.

Henry had endeavored to give to the new government the prominent characteristics of his own. Accordingly, the administrators of it were in part reformers and in part papists; the former, however, had the ascendency, and began almost immediately to exert their power in favor of the protestants. Persecution under the Six Articles act was stopped, and the prisoners for conscience' sake were set free. Among these was honest " Old Latimer," who resigned the bishopric of Worcester on the pas


sage of the Six Articles, and who, after repeated arraignments for his heretical preaching, was finally imprisoned in the Tower, and there remained six years.

The council also invited home the Christian exiles who had been driven abroad by the severity of Henry's government. Among these were Coverdale, Hooper, Rogers, Philpot, and other distinguished protestants. Several learned foreign reformers were also invited into England, and settled in the universities and elsewhere; among whom were the celebrated Peter Martyr, who was made professor of divinity at Oxford, and Martin Bucer and Paul Phagius, who settled at Cambridge.

Cranmer, who through all the fluctuations of the latter part of Henry's reign had retained the king's confidence and enjoyed his favor, was still archbishop of Canterbury, and was at the head of the executors of Henry's will and “

* Hugh Latimer seems to have given the rulers of Henry's church a good deal of trouble. On the 11th of March, 1531, he was called before the convocation of Canterbury, and pronounced contumacious. But ten days after, March 21st, he appeared again and apologized for his preaching and conduct, subscribed certain articles which were prescribed, and was absolved from the sentence of excommunication. On the 22d of April, 1532, he appeared again before the convocation, and made yet fuller confessions of his irregularities, and was fully restored to the communion of the church. But on the 26th of March, 1533, Latimer's case was before the convocation a third time. He seems to have failed to satisfy the clergy by his preaching and living; and on the 2d of October, 1533, he was forbidden again to preach, by John, bishop of London." Wilkins' Concilia, 111, 747, 748, 756, 760; Burnet, vol. 1. pt. 1. bk. II. p. 335; vol. III. pt. I. bk. II. pp. 146, 147.

governors to his son and to the kingdom until his son was eighteen years of age," and next to the head of the grand council of state, under the Protector. The measures of religious reform adopted by the council were mainly Cranmer's. It was designed by him and his friends, as Burnet tells us," to carry on the Reformation, but by slow and safe degrees; not hazarding too much at once.” Or, according to old Fuller, they intended to imitate careful mothers and nurses, who, on condition they can get their children to part with knives, are contented to let them play with rattles ; so they (the Reformers) permitted ignorant people still to retain some of their fond and foolish customs, that they might remove from them the most dangerous and destructive superstitions.

In conformity with this “slow and safe” plan, the council early resolved on a general visitation of the kingdom, with a view to further religious reformation." This was one of Henry's favorite methods. For this purpose, thirty commissioners were appointed, the kingdom was divided into six districts, and five commissioners were appointed to each, consisting of two gentlemen, a civilian, a registrar, and a divine, whose special business it was to preach to the people wherever the commissioners went, in order to prepare the way for the intended alterations in religion.* 66 Articles and Injunctions” were also prepared for the guidance of the commissioners, and printed and sent forth for the information of the people.† A series of twelve homilies, or short sermons, was also prepared, chiefly by Cranmer, and published on the 20th of August, 1547, for the instruction of the people in some of the more important doctrines and duties of Christianity ; particularly for those congregations which were served by priests who were unwilling or unable to teach these essential truths. I

* The whole plan seems to have been digested previous to May 4th, 1547, as appears from the king's letter to the archbishop of York, of that date. - Burnet's Records, vol. 11. pt. 11. bk. I. No. 7. But, for some reason, the visitation was not entered upon until sometime in August. - Burnet's Hist., vol. II. pt. 11. bk. 1. pp. 52–62; Fuller's Church Hist., vol. iv. bk. VIII. sect. 3.

* Collier, v. 181; Burnet, ut

sup. † For some reason, these were delayed until July 31st, 1547, when they were printed.

Burnet, vol. II. pt. I. bk. I. p. 54. The title of this book of homilies was “ Certain Sermons or Homilies, appointed by the kings Majestie, to be declared and read by all Parsons, Vicars, or Curates, everie Sonday, in their Churches where they have come.

Two editions of these homilies were published during the year 1547, and distributed to the churches and chapels through the kingdom. But they were much disliked by the papists, and the good influence of the homilies was neutralized as far as possible by the conduct of the people or the priests. In some places, we are told that the people would keep up such" talking and babbling in church (when the homilies were read] that nothing could be heard”; and in other churches, where the people were well disposed, and the priest was ill affected, old Latimer tells us, the priest would “so hawk and chop it, that it were as good for them

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