Young Folks' History of England HTML version

28. Edward VI, A.D. 1547—1553
The little son of Henry VIII. and Jane Seymour of course reigned after him as
Edward VI. He was a quiet, gentle boy exceedingly fond of learning and
study, and there were great expectations of him; but, as he was only nine
years old, the affairs of state were managed by his council.
The chief of the council were his two uncles—his mother's brothers, Edward
and Thomas Seymour, the elder of whom had been made Duke of
Somerset—together with Archbishop Cranmer; but it was not long before the
duke quarreled with his brother Thomas, put him into the Tower, and cut off
his head, so that it seemed as if the days of Henry VIII. were not yet over.
The Duke of Somerset and Archbishop Cranmer wanted to make many more
changes in the Church of England than Henry VIII. had ever allowed. They
had all the Prayer-book Services translated into English, leaving out such
parts as they did not approve; The Lessons were read from the English Bible,
and people were greatly delighted at being able to worship and to listen to
God's Word in their own tongue. The first day on which the English Prayer-
book was used was the Whitsunday of 1548. The Bibles were chained to the
desks as being so precious and valuable; and crowds would stand, or sit, and
listen for hours together to any one who would read to them, without caring if
he were a clergyman or not; and men who tried to explain, without being
properly taught, often made great mistakes.
Indeed, in Germany and France a great deal of the same kind had been going
on for some time past, though not with any sort of leave from the kings or
bishops, as there was in England, and thus the reformers there broke quite
off from the Church, and fancied they could do without bishops. This great
break was called the Reformation, because it professed to set matters of
religion to rights; and in Germany the reformers called themselves
Protestants, because they protested some of the teachings of the Church of
Cranmer had at one time been in Germany, and had made friends with some
of these German and Swiss Protestants, and he invited them to England to
consult and help him and his friends. Several of them came, and they found
fault with our old English Prayer-book—though it had never been the same as
the Roman one—and it was altered again to please them and their friends,
and brought out as King Edward's second book. Indeed, they tried to
persuade the English to be like themselves—with very few services, no
ornaments in the churches, and no bishops; and things seemed to be tending
more and more to what they desired, for the king was too young not to do
what his tutors and governors wished, and his uncle and Cranmer were all on
their side.