Edward VI. – Review

Edward VI. – Review – book review

Edward VI. Jennifer Loach. George Bernard and Penry Williams, editors. Yale University Press. [pound]20.00. 210 pages. ISBN 0-300-07992-3. The Yale ‘English Monarch’ series aims to give readers political biographies which explain how the monarchy functioned in any given period and developed over the centuries. In this volume Jennifer Loach, who sadly died before the book was completed, takes a perceptive look at the boy-king under whom the Protestant Reformation took root in England. She gives us both a political history and a proper biography and does not lose the king amidst the policies. Instead of the sickly Protestant boy-saint, ‘the young Josias purifying the Church and destroying idolatry’ we are given ‘a conventional upper-class youth, delighting in warfare, castle building and in the substitute for war that tournaments provided’. As a Protestant reformer we now know that Edward and his advisors — Somerset and Northumberland — were not as successful as we previously thought. Miss Loach argues that the rise and fall of various powers at Court did not, as during Henry VI’s minority, result in civil war: England already had a remarkably stable constitution. The key element in Edward’s reign, as in previous reigns going back centuries, was ‘a political world preoccupied with the needs of war’. This book will become a monument to an Oxford historian sorely missed. (E.B.)

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