The Life of Edward VI of England (Part Two)

This is Part Two in my series on the life of King Edward VI. If you missed Part One, click Here.

If you would prefer to listen to this article instead of reading it, you can do so by clicking this image that will bring you to my podcast:

King Henry VIII

It was at Westminster that King Henry VIII took his last breath.

He had reigned in England since his father’s death in April 1509. When he came to the throne he was a young, athletic and by all accounts attractive man. The man Henry VIII was just before his death in January 1547 was much older, obese and smelled of leg ulcers. Not the catch he once was.

The King’s legs eventually became so swollen, and his pain so severe, that he had to be carried around, room by room, in a chair. I wonder how many men could carry him? I wonder what the chair looked like? If you know, please send me a message because quick Google searches did not render any results for me.

Okay, so, not only did Henry VIII have swollen legs but as I mentioned earlier he had an issue with leg ulcers. He had more than one and they smelled of bacteria infested puss. Cuz that’s what it was. I honestly feel bad for Henry.

Using red-hot irons the doctors regularly cauterised the King’s ulcers to close the wound. It’s no wonder he was so cranky and unruly.

So anyway…Henry VIII had been sick in bed for while and had decided to finalize his will. The will was dated December 30, 1546. It was signed at the top and at the bottom. Historian Suzannah Lipscomb states in her book, “The King is Dead” that King Henry had not signed his own named since September 1545¹, so it comes as no surprise that a stamp had been used on his will.

 

Titles Warranted – Ceremonies

So that brings us back to Edward VI. Three weeks after the death of Henry – the titles warranted, per his will, were delivered to its recipients, who included: Edward Seymour, William Parr, John Dudley, Thomas Wriothesley, Thomas Seymour, Richard Rich, William Willoughby and Edward/Edmund Sheffield.

On that Thursday after the late King’s burial, on the 18th of February 1547, all the temporal lords gathered at the Tower of London wearing their robes of estate.

Leading off this ceremony was Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford and Lord Protector and  uncle to the King. He was wearing his kertell and was led from the council chamber to the King’s presence with all pomp and circumstance.

Edward Seymour, Lord Protector

If you’re like me, you are probably asking yourself, “What is a kertell?” With the help of my friend, Susan Abernethy, she helped me to visualize it a bit better. A kertell was like a gown, a short gown for men. We might compare it to a tunic. Under it they wore tights. The portrait of Henry VIII with his barber surgeons is a perfect example of a kertell.

Edited version of: Henry VIII and the Barber Surgeons by Hans Holbein

As Edward Seymour entered into the King’s presence chamber he was led in by “The officers of arms in their coats of arms”, two and two.

The Garter, baring his letters patents.

The Earl of Derby (Edward Stanley), baring his mantle.

Then on the right hand of him the earl of Shrewsbury (Francis Talbot), baring the rod of gold; and on the left hand the earl of Oxford (John de Vere), baring the cap of estate with the crown.

The earl of Arundell (Henry Fitzalan), baring the sword, the ‘pomell’ upward.

Then the said earl [of Hertford] led between the duke of Suffolk (Henry Brandon) and the marquess Dorset (Henry Grey).

“All these lords aforesaid being also in their robes of estate.”

And thus in goodly order proceeding, after they entered into the chamber of presence, they made three (iij) reverent ‘obacyens’ to the King’s highness, and when they came to the cloth of estate the Lords stayed standing while Edward Seymour knelt down. Then the Garter delivered the letters patents to Master Secretary, William Paget. Paget then delivered them to the King, the King, in turn, handed them back to Paget and had them read them openly.

The King then placed on Edward Seymour, his mantel, and then put about him a band/sash, over one shoulder and under the opposite arm. Following that he put on his cap, or crown and then delivered to Seymour his rod of gold.

Following that William Paget, the Master Secretary read the patents which contained the creation of Seymour to become Duke of Somerset, Earl of Hertford, etc.

William Paget

With this patent he was given a gift of a thousand pounds of land yearly; and after which Paget delivered the said letters patents to the King’s Majesty, and his highness gave them to the said Duke of Somerset, and the said duke, after thanks given to his highness, stood on the side to assist the King’s majesty to the creation of other estates; and the rest of the lords and the officers of arms returned to conduct the other estates in like manner.”

Once Somerset’s ceremony had concluded they moved on to the next, in order of rank. Each man’s ceremony was like that of Somersets.

With Edward Seymour being raised to Duke of Somerset, he would have been the only duke created that day. So, by rank, he was the first to go.

After duke comes Marquess, which there was but one: William Parr, Earl of Essex. He was led between the Marquis Dorset (Henry Grey)  and the Earl of Arundell (Henry Fitzalan). He was then created Marquess of Northampton and Earl of Essex in similar fashion.

William Parr, sketch by Holbein

After Marquess comes Earl, there were two men raised to Earl on this day, the first was John Dudley, Viscount Lisle. Dudley was led between the Earl of Derby (Edward Stanley) and the Earl of Oxford (John de Vere). He was then created Earl of Warwick and Viscount Lisle, etc. And also given a patent for the office of the Great Chamberlain of England (a position vacated by Somerset after being created Lord Protector).

John Dudley; Knole © National Trust

The second man to be raised to Earl was Thomas Wriothesley, Lord Chancellor of England. Created Earl of Southampton. Wriothesley and Somerset had very different views – especially when it came to Somerset being Lord Protector. He did not think it right. It should come as no surprise that not long into the new king’s reign he was relieved of his duties as Lord Chancellor and removed from the privy council as well.

Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton by Holbein Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York.

Following Wriothesley were the newly created barons (four of them) entered, starting with the brother to Somerset and uncle to King Edward. Sir Thomas Seymour, Knight, entered in his kertell and was led between two barons in their robes of estate. A baron before him baring his mantell, Garter baring his letters patents.

Thomas Seymour

“As the words of investimus (to clothe/to cover), the King put on him his robes, and at the delivery of his patents to the King’s Majesty in manner as aforesaid by the secretary, after it was read, then the King’s majesty gave the said lord his letters patents, which contained the creation of him to be Lord Seymour of Sudeley; and at the same time the King’s Majesty delivered unto him another patent for the office of High Admiral of England.”

For someone who has been researching Thomas for quite a while this was a wonderful discovery. This proves that Thomas was given both titles at the same time. When I first began researching him I had read that he was given Lord Admiral after complaining he did not have enough power as uncle to the king. My tip- keep looking until you find a contemporary report. One written during the lifetime of your subject. You can form your own opinions from there.

Anyway…

Following Seymour was Sir Richard Rich. Rich had the same ceremony as previously listed and was given his patent containing the creation of him to be a baron of Parliament. He became Baron Rich of Leez.

Richard Rich, sketch by Holbein

Then came in Sir William Willoughby who was created Baron of Parham.

Lastly, Edward or Edmund Sheffield, created Lord Sheffield.

After that was completed then the King restored and delivered unto:

  • Lord St. John, Lord Great Master;
  • Sir Thomas Cheyne, Lord Warden Treasurer [of Household],
  • and Sir John Gage, Comptroller.
  • They were presented with their ‘stavis of their offyces’.

Then the group proceeded, all in their robes of estate, and the dukes, marquesses, earls and barons with their caps of estate on the heads, in like order as they were created, to the council chamber to dinner.

As they left for dinner, the trumpets began to blow. The men were led from the room, by officers of arms who walked two by two, then the Garter led out the Duke of Somerset who was followed by the rest of the peers.

When they arrived at the dinner chamber the peers removed their mantels and hoods and sat in their kertells for the dinner.

When the second course arrived, Somerset herald, because at that time Garter was ‘horrse’, proclaimed all the peers newly created, with the fees given by them to the heralds.

And after dinner the men changed into other apparel, and some went to give thanks and to attend on the King’s Highness, and the other at their pleasure.

 

 

Order of the Garter

Then, that afternoon at about 3 o’clock, the King and the knights of the noble Order of the Garter, gathered in the King’s closet, and there kept chapter; The King, and the knights of the said Order of the Garter presented, with one voice, to elect the following men into the order:

the lord marquis Dorset, the earl of Darby, the Lord Seymour of Sudeley, and Sir William Paget secretary, and delivered unto each of them the  same time a George and a garter, and the same time the King’s Majesty wore his George about his neck and his Garter about his leg which had been delivered to him by the Lord Protector.

These men were able to become members of this exclusive and member-capped club due to four vacancies made that year: King Henry VIII (who died), Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk (who was degraded and in the Tower), King Francis I of France (who died) and lastly, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (who was degraded & executed). Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (degraded & executed).

The ceremony is referenced in Jessie Childs’ book, The Last Victim of Henry VIII when she describes the ceremony for Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey.

Immediately after being elected he would give a speech of thanks and then kiss the cross that was offered to him. Then the Garter was buckled to his left leg with the words:

“Sir, the most friendly Companions of this Order denominated from the Garter have now admitted you their Friend, Brother and Companion, in faithful testimony of which, they impart and give you the Garter, which God grant that you deservedly receiving it, may rightly wear and use to the glory of God, the honour of the most famous Order and of your own.” (Literary Remains of Edward VI)

But that wasn’t it – “in order to officially become a Knight Companion you would also need to take possession of your stall at St. George’s Chapel”.² 

This actually turned out to be a busy few days of ceremonies. The following day, the King left the Tower for the first time since arriving and began his coronation procession through the city of London. His destination, Westminster. The following day his coronation would be held at Westminster Abbey.

The occasion is described in “The Literary Remains of King Edward VI”:

On this occasion, Edward rode on horseback. His uncle, the Lord Protector on his left side; a state canopy carried by six knights, BUT Edward rode a little ahead of the canopy so that the ‘people might the better see him’.

His highness was richly appareled with a gown of cloth of silver, all over embroidered with damask gold, with a girdle of white velvet wrought with Venice silver, garnished with precious stones, as rubies and diamonds, with true-lover’s knots of pearls; a doublet of white velvet according to the same, embroidered with Venice silver, garnished with like stones and pearls; a white velvet cap, garnished with like stones and pearls; and a pair of buskins of white velvet.

Public Domain – Coronation of Edward VI of England. Illustration (verso, page 34) from The Masque of the Edwards of England, published in 1902.

At various states of his progress pageants with speeches and songs were exhibited before him; and in St. Paul’s churchyard he was detained for ‘a good space of time’ in order to watch the performances of a rope-dancer, a native of Aragon, for whom a cable was stretched from the battlements of the steeple to a great anchor at the deanery gate. He was quite amused.

The King appears to have slept at Whitehall that evening.

The following day was the coronation of Edward VI, it was Shrove Sunday, 20th of February. The noblemen were summoned to be in attendance by the early hour of seven in the morning.

The procession of King Edward VI. from the Tower of London to Westminster, Feb. XIX, MDXLVII, previous to his coronation. Basire, John James / Copyright: © Victoria and Albert Museum, London 2017. All Rights Reserved

During the ceremony there were three crowns, each place on the King’s head. The first being King Edward’s crown, followed by the imperial crown of England and then a ‘very rich crown’ which was specifically made for Edward.

Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury performed the ceremony and announced: “Sirs, here I present unto you King Edward, the rightful inheritor to the crown of this realm. Wherefore all ye, that be come this day to do your homage, service, and bounden duty, be ye willing to do the same?” to which all the people cried with a loud voice, and said, “Yea, Yea, Yea”; and cried, “King Edward”; and prayed, “God save King Edward”.³

Well known Tudor chronicler, Wriothesley described the events after the coronation as such:

“a great feast kept that day in Westminster Hall which was richly hanged, his Majesty sitting all dinner with his crown on his head; and, after the second course served, Sir Edward Dymmocke, knight, came riding into the hall in clean white complete harness, richly gilded, and his horse richly trapped, and cast his gauntlet to wage battle against all men that would not take him for right King of this realm, and then the King drank to him and gave him a cup of gold; and after dinner the King made many knights, and then he changed his apparel, and so rode from thence to Westminster Place.” 

The following day, at one o’clock in the afternoon royal jousts held at the Palace of Westminster. King Edward and the Lord Protector, as well as other noblemen were present in his highness’ gallery to witness the jousts. The joust had six challengers and twenty-five defender. The challengers were: Sir Thomas Seymour, Baron of Sudeley and Lord High Admiral, Sir Richard Devereux, Sir Anthony Kingston, Sir Peter Carew, Francis Knollys and Mr. Shelly.  The challengers ran against every one of the defenders. 

“And so they passed forthe that day with great valyantnes, and so nobly behaved themselves on ether party, that, thankes be to God, there was nether man nor horse hurt; and brake many speres so redyly, that yt was to their great honour, and praise of all the people there assembled, as the were well worthy.”

That evening, after the events had concluded, they all returned in ‘goodly order’ to the house of the Lord Admiral (Seymour Place), where they had a “goodly” supper prepared for them, with great feasts and thanks.

Then on the following day, the King dubbed fifty-five men Knights of the Carpet. From Wikipedia:

A so-called carpet knight was a person who had been awarded a title of knighthood by the king of England on a holiday occasion (or in time of peace),[1] as opposed to knighthoods awarded for military service, or success in tournament games.

One can almost imagine how spectacular all of these events were. I’m hoping that through descriptions and pictures I have been able to bring some of it to life.

Read Part Three!

 

Notes:

¹Lipscomb, Suzannah. The King is Dead: The Last Will and Testament of Henry VIII. December 20, 2016. Pegasus Books. Page

²Childs, Jessie. Henry VIII’s Last Victim: The Life and Times of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey Hardcover – December 10, 2007. Thomas Dunne Books. Page 151

³Memorials of Archbishop Cranmer by John Strype, Vol. II, Oxford 1848 – page 204

Sources:

Childs, Jessie. Henry VIII’s Last Victim: The Life and Times of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey Hardcover – December 10, 2007. Thomas Dunne Books.

Lipscomb, Suzannah. The King is Dead: The Last Will and Testament of Henry VIII. December 20, 2016. Pegasus Books.

Literary Remains of King Edward the Sixth, Edited from His Autograph Manuscripts, with Historical Notes and a Biographical Memoir – Edward VI (King of England, page xvic

Strype, John. Memorials of Archbishop Cranmer by John Strype, Vol. II, Oxford 1848.

Wriothesley, Charles, Hamilton, William Douglas. A chronicle of England during the reigns of the Tudors, from A.D. 1485 to 1559; Camden Society, 1875-77

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