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Edward VI: Henry VIII's Overshadowed Son (Hardback)

P&S History > British History > Tudors & Stuarts P&S History > By Century > 16th Century P&S History > Royal History

By Stephanie Kline
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 256
Illustrations: 20 mono
ISBN: 9781399093699
Published: 6th April 2023



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For too long, King Edward VI has been pushed to the very edges of Tudor history - overlooked in favour of some of the more vibrant personalities of his family members, such as Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. Known as the 'boy king' of the Tudor dynasty, he is often remembered for little more than the ambitious councillors who governed England during his minority. His reign, however, and the significant religious changes that took place as he furthered the Protestant Reformation in England, had great influence over the remaining decades of the Tudor period and even modern Britain as we know it today.

‘Boy king’ though he may have been, Edward VI and his government were more significant to the history of England than he is often given credit for, and it is long past time for careful and thoughtful study of his life and reign. Edward VI: Henry VIII’s Overshadowed Son aims to reopen the pages of his story, arguing that however brief it may have been, Edward VI’s reign had lasting impacts on the religious landscape in England, and is certainly a Tudor reign worth remembering.

I live and die by Tudor England books, and this was such an interesting account of one of the players that I really knew nothing about coming into this! We always think of the Henry's and the wives, so it was fascinating learning about Edward. Can't wait to read more of Stephanie's research!

NetGalley, Carly Pascal

There hasn't been a lot written on Edward VI, except that he was Elizabeth's brother. This book shown some light on the tragic life of Henry's son. I loved reading about his early life and how his father's paranoia left him somewhat isolated from court and then made him a pawn after he came to the throne at such a young age. A very much needed book in world of the Tudor dynasty.

NetGalley, Stacy Mawhorter

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Edward VI is too often remembered as the boy who died and left the crown to Lady Jane Grey. The boy who was led astray by the plotting Dudleys. Now he emerges as his own person in this well written biography.

NetGalley, Caroline Palmer

4 out of 5

As featured on Army Rumour Service

Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

I enjoyed this book and learning more about this forgotten king.

NetGalley, Catherine O’Connor

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book and feel I know Edward the sixth so much more than I did it was truly interesting and like all books about royalty when you strip away the titles it just sounds like a dysfunctional family something I totally love.

NetGalley, Janalyn Prude

I have never read a book about Edward. It is easy to find books on Elizabeth and Henry VIII but there is a lack of books about other rulers. This book actually showed details about Edward’s childhood, family, reign, and death. It gave context and information that helps you develop a deeper knowledge of the characters in Edward’s life. I really recommend this book. It helped show another side to the Tudor court.

NetGalley, Naomi Sutherland

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was such a fantastic read! It can be difficult to make history interesting but this book was excellent.

NetGalley, Kara Wills

Most of the parts focusing on his life were new to me, and it was very intriguing to read more about this oft-forgotten Tudor. Highly recommend for anyone interested in Tudor history!

NetGalley, Lauren M

When I heard Stephanie Kline who runs the blog The Tudor Enthusiast wrote Edward VI: Henry VIII's Overshadowed Son, I wanted to read the book. I have known of the blog for several years, and felt it was well run and was interested in what the author had to say. Personally, I have not been too interested in Edward VI over the years I've been a Tudor fan, however that adds to the point of the book.

Edward VI is more interesting than people think. People overlook him because he was a boy when he was king, and therefore many people write him off since he probably was boring or could not make decisions for himself. However, Kline argues this is false. Edward was interested in making changes as King. He did have his own ideas and his own mind. And he was not as easily manipulated by the adults around him as people assume.

I also enjoyed reading about his relationships with his sisters', advisors and Lady Jane Grey. I had a little bit of knowledge about this part, but it was interesting to dive more into depth. Besides I usually read the female point of view of the relationships with him, and now I could see it more from his side.

Kline writes a very important story. Edward is the most underrepresented child of Henry VIII in scholarly work, yet he was born to rule. Just because he was young and had a short reign shouldn't diminish his achievements that deserve to be represented.

Overall this was a great book and important contribution to Tudor non fiction work. The book was well researched and written.

NetGalley, Traci Hoffman

When it is reflected upon, it is perhaps bitterly ironic that despite the incredible effort that King Henry VIII invested in to have his son and heir - divorcing one wife, beheading another and the Reformation of the Church of England - that his legacy would be more strongly remembered by that of his unappreciated daughters.

Despite being born to be king and the most welcome child after King Henry's third marriage to Jane Seymour, Edward VI has rather, unjustly, been overlooked when compared with his more popular and famous (or infamous) Tudor monarchs.

To write a compelling book about Edward VI is no easy task. Often written off as merely the "boy-king" who was sickly and tragically died young, Stephanie Kline has managed to bring the life and times of this lesser known king to the forefront in this fascinating and magnificently researched study.

Kline dispels the myths surrounding Edward, emphasising that he was a robust and healthy youth who enjoyed similar physical activities as that to his father as he approached adulthood at a rapid pace. A devout Protestant, his strong religious ideals developed an inspiration in him from a young age as he grew keen to grasp the reigns of court and government in order to push the boundaries of the Reformation to their extremities.

Despite being surrounded by powerhouse figures such as Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland - who are explored thoroughly in their connections to Edward - what I valued about this book was how Kline consistently keeps King Edward as the focus of this book. He was no mere "puppet king" to be treated as an afterthought, but instead is respected for his own sense of being.

A thought-provoking book that leaves you with a sense of "what if", Stephanie Kline's "Edward VI" is a book that absolutely must be read by any interested in the Tudor Era.

NetGalley, Kirsty Whyte

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Tudor history is always a big interest for me. I read some but frankly speaking still have a lot to dig into.

The author Stephanie Kline is an enthusiast for Tudor and she started her blog about this since 2011. It’s not hard to imagine the amount of research and books she had done in these years.

Stephanie used simple language to share her stand points, provided with strong arguments. Especially how the “Boy King” influenced the religious landscape in England. There were loads of story about Henry VIII, his wives, even Elizabeth I, however seldom with a biography that had an in-depth insight of Edward VI.

Such a fascinating read!

NetGalley, Miranda Yeung

I’ve read quite a bit about Tudor England, and it’s true that very little of it focuses on Henry VIII’s son. I realized as I read this book that I’d only seen two paintings of the young king, and both were when he was quite young; I had no idea what the teenage king looked like.

One of the things Kline dispels is the myth that Edward was a sickly boy. In reality, he was quite healthy and enjoyed all the pursuits his father had, like riding and hunting. He only fell ill once or twice during his short life, although his final illness lasted approximately 9 months. In all respects, he was a normal boy.

Since he became king at age 6, Edward’s father appointed 16 men as councilors to help advise the young king. Of course, much of the history of Edward VI’s life is the machinations of various advisors and their attempt to control the king. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, sometimes there was internal fighting amongst the advisors. Men were accused and found guilty of treason, their executions guaranteed. There were times when the life of Edward is overshadowed by men like Somerset or Northumberland, but that’s to be expected given the number of source materials available.

Though Edward’s reign was a mere six years, it was still longer than his half-sister Mary’s, and just as consequential. He was a fervent Protestant and issued all sorts of orders to make sure Catholicism was wiped from existence in England. He pushed the agenda further than his father did, and while Queen Mary undid many of those changes, it lay a blueprint for his sister, Elizabeth, who was much more tolerant while making sure England got back on the path to Protestantism.

NetGalley, Jennifer J

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Tudor kings and queens are easy, aren't they?
There's Henry VII, victor of the Battle of Bosworth and a miser and then Henry VIII with his six wives.. Then there are the two queens: the tyrant 'Bloody' Mary and Good Queen Bess herself, the Virgin Queen,, Elizabeth I.
But what about the awkward middle Tudor, the Virgin King Edward VI? The oldest son of Henry VIII and his third wife, Jane Seymour, the young monarch ruled for six years between 1547 and 1553, dying of tuberculosis before he came of age at the age of 16.
What sort of person was he? What were the key events of his short life and reign? Just how Protestant was he? Would he have grown up to be another tyrant or a more benevolent ruler?
Stephanie Kline's book aims to fill in the blanks about the boy king who inspired Mark Twain's, The Prince and the Pauper.

NetGalley, Chris Hallam

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book because I'm a lover of anything about the Tudors. It is a very well-researched book and is well written. I agree Edward VI is largely ignored in book about the Tudors, mainly due to the lack of primary evidence about him but the author really brings together Edward's journals with the writing of several courtiers, nobles and council members. The usual shenanigans ensue between rival factions (Dukes of Northumberland and Somerset in this case), both of whom try to influence Edward's decision making, especially about the Protestant cause. Edward was dead just a few months short of his 16th birthday, probably from consumption so it's fascinating reading about the kinds of things he was required to engage in as King. It is difficult to imagine a boy (technically in Tudor England, a boy reached 'adulthood' at 14) dealing with some of the Protestant faith changes occurring at the time. The Book of Common Prayer was rewritten, the articles of faith changed, English churches stripped back their finery; no stained glass windows, idolatry allowed. The author does well with all this, especially Edward's desire to reinforce his father's beliefs and also with his elder sister, Mary's hatred of his reforms. She remained Roman Catholic and Edward fought with her about it all his life. We get a good picture of Edward and of his resilience in often hostile situations and by the end of the book, one can't help wondering what he might have achieved had he lived longer. A very interesting read and a long overdue addition to Tudor non-fiction.

NetGalley, Jools Hogg

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Another wonderful read.

I haven't given much thought to Edward VI's reign nor life.
I've always directed my attention towards both his parents and his sisters, so I found that the title of this book was pretty much on point.

Though it is sad that his life was cut short, is interesting to note how much he took after his dad.

The book takes us all the way up 'til Elizabeth I's reign, so it's a great startin' point if you're trying to dip your toes in King Henry VIII's children's lives.

Written wonderfully and clearly, easy to keep up and understand.

I strongly recommend y'all to read it.

NetGalley, Sira Barbeito

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Tudor monarchs are probably some of the most well-known in European history. However, one is often glossed over, most likely due to his youth and brief reign. That one is King Edward VI, hence the aptness of the book title.
Edward VI was the longed-for male heir that Henry VIII went through 2 brides and a break from the Catholic church for. His arrival was followed by his mother's death. All the more reason why Henry VIII was so protective of his son.
At the tender age of 9, Edward became king but he was not the one actually ruling. That was being done by his uncle, Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset. This particular uncle consolidated power so much so that it seemed the actual king was just a bystander. Eventually, Somerset fell from power just to be replaced by another greedy soul in the form of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland. It is because of this that Edward VI is often portrayed as a mere puppet. He didn't seem to be the one running things.
But that is far from the truth. The furthering of Protestantism in England is largely due to Edward VI's strong & devout conviction that it was the true pathway to God. Without him, his sister Elizabeth I would not have the relative stability with regard to religion during her reign.
Author Stephanie Kline succeeds in explaining why Edward VI should not be overlooked. She does so all while explaining all the machinations that occurred during his brief life and even briefer reign. The only downside to this book is the decision to only use black and white images. Considering the sumptuousness of Tudor art, that seems to be a bit of an injustice to the reader. Aside from that, the book is excellent reading and a worthy addition to the large library of Tudor history already in existence.

NetGalley, Mariama Thorlu-Bangura

I found this book really interesting, and learnt so much about the boy king. He is largely overlooked due to his relatively short time as monarch, but he had a lasting effect on British life and society, particularly religion. A great addition to any history lover’s library.

NetGalley, Jessica Mayhall

This carefully researched book shines a deserving light on this period and I, for one, congratulate Kline on exposing the intrigue and manipulation that permeated politics and Royalty at this time.

NetGalley, Nigel Masterton

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is Stephanie Kline’s first historical biography, and she does an excellent job presenting the material. I recently saw the Broadway show Six in New York City and that sparked my interest in Tudor history again. I’ve always been fascinated by Queen Elizabeth I’s story, but hadn’t gone much further than that in Tudor history. As soon as I received this ARC, I started reading it. It’s a page turner if you enjoy historical biography. I love learning about obscure topics, so this was perfect. The surrounding individuals who came before and after King Edward VI are very well known, but this story hasn’t received the same coverage so nearly everything described was new information to me.

King Edward VI was well educated and took an active interest in his position as heir to the throne. I could tell that Stephanie did a lot of research about how he grew up, his interests and his writing that has survived. I really enjoyed the inclusion about how several people on the council jockeyed for power once Henry VIII died and Edward VI became King at age nine. Life at court was filled with drama and it’s fascinating to think about how things worked in a monarchy especially with a young boy king. When everything depended upon letters and being together in person, it’s astonishing how certain people took and maintained power.

I learned a lot about how religion was shaped and changed during this time period through reading this book. This book delves deep into the religious history and takes a hard look at how other scholarship has skipped over Edward VI’s importance in this particular part of England’s history and the Tudor dynasty. Stephanie makes the case that even as a young King, Edward VI had a strong influence on shaping Protestantism in England. She describes how he came to his religious beliefs and continued the changes his father started during his reign. She shows how he influenced those changes directly and didn’t rely just on his council. It’s fascinating to think about what would have been if he had reigned for a shorter period and Mary I, a devout Catholic, had reigned for a longer period.

I also learned so much about the Tudor dynasty leading up to the reign of Elizabeth I, one of my favorite monarchs to learn about. So much happened between the death of Henry VIII (during his life as well), and the crowning of Elizabeth I. There’s really a treasure trove of history to learn about and I can see why Stephanie Kline is a Tudor Enthusiast!

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Tudor history, monarchies, and historical biographies. I consider it a must read and pre-ordered my hardcover copy to have on my shelves. It has inspired me to keep reading more in this genre and I got several book recommendations from the sources included in the back of this book. I’m also following Stephanie’s blog and Facebook page now for updates and additional reading.

NetGalley, Caitlin King

I have read many books on Tudor history and yet realized that I knew little about the actual reign of Edward VI. Overshadowed, indeed.

Stephanie Kline has done well casting light onto the life and reign of the only legitimate son of Henry VIII. A must-read for Tudor history buffs.

NetGalley, Kori Parkinson

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Tudor era is my favourite historical period and I’ve studied many courses and books on the subject. As the title suggests, Edward is often overshadowed by his father and siblings so this is the first time I’ve read a book solely devoted to the young King. I was pleased to find the impression that Edward was weak and a puppet King was false. I love that he refused to make Thomas Seymour Governor of the Kings Person, despite being bribed with pocket money!
This is a well written and very thoroughly researched account of an often overlooked King.

NetGalley, Hayley Remmington

As an avid Tudor history buff, I’m delighted to see a book focusing on Edward VI, the only son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour. The author spent 10 years researching for this book. While documenting the more well-known figures surrounding the young king, she tries, as much as available information allows, to show where he directly and indirectly steered the country. Most importantly, she details how Edward’s devout Protestantism set the groundwork for the Church of England’s future. The footnoting is extensive and appropriate.

NetGalley, Ruth McWilliams

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was a very good read for all Tudor fans out there. Highly recommend. The author did a great job with research and writing the novel.

NetGalley, Heather Michael

‘Edward VI: Henry VIII’s Overshadowed Son’ is an extremely well written account of the life of one of the less well-known Tudor monarchs. The longed-for son of Henry VIII, who became King at 9 years of age, Edward has largely been remembered for dying young and his attempt to change the succession from his half-sister, Princess Mary to Lady Jane Grey.

Stephanie Kline’s book goes a very long way to restoring Edward to the spotlight and taking his rightful place in the history of this famous dynasty. Although with any biography of Edward, the Dukes of Somerset and Northumberland loom large, Edward does not disappear into the background, with Kline showing his role in events and decisions, especially in the last 18 months of his life. By covering the effects of Edward’s religious policies in the reigns of Mary I and Elizabeth I, his legacy is clear to see.

NetGalley, Tamise Hills

This was a huge surprise to me. I had not known of Edward VI and even though this was a Historical Book the players and movers in the story were fascinating. The political oneupmanship was fascinating and interesting to see that a young King at that time was a precious commodity but also there to be used.
The changes made to Protestentism during his reign were also so interesting and the interwoven stories and characters were amazingly written. I was gripped.

NetGalley, Fiona O'Donoghue

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

An excellent biography about one of the more over-looked Tudor monarchs - Edward VI.

Kline states, and then backs her thesis up with excellent arguments, that Edward VI was not the doomed-to-die sickly boy-king-puppet who did nothing himself, but rather, up until his final months, a healthy and vigorous teenager approaching young manhood who worked extremally hard to grab the reins of government as soon and as often as he could, making real, solid changes himself to the government and religion of England.

We also see the deadly soap opera of those circling around him, smiling with knives behind their backs, as they all fight to ingratiate themselves to the king, even if it means stepping over each others bodies. 'Succession' has nothing on the drama of the Seymours and Dudleys!

NetGalley, Kara Race-Moore

As a lover of Tudor history, I have to admit that I fall into the category of why Kline wanted to write this book. I have read extensively about the six Queen consorts of the period and the two regnant Queens, but I have paid very little attention to Edward. Part of this lack of interest in his reign comes from the belief apparently held by many historians that he did not have as active a role in his reign because of his youth. Kline's thesis is that this is a misconception and I think any lover of Tudor history should read this book.

I loved that Kline centred Edward as much as she could in this book. Often in a period where sources are dictated by the men in power, it seems difficult for minors and children to be fully represented in the historical record. Although there is often a discussion in books on Mary I about the contrast between her and her brother's religious beliefs agency in those beliefs is often only granted to Mary. The thread that Kline was able to establish between Edward's upbringing as the only Tudor monarch to reign who was born to do so and the eventual outcomes of his religious reformation were thought-provoking and well-researched. I found myself many times throughout the book wondering about the psychology of this young boy who had to live in the shadow of the giant that was his father and how that shaped the teenager he became.

I also really enjoyed the timeline that Kline used to tell Edward's story. As in most biographies, it follows a chronological path, but the way that facts were laid out I started thinking about several things within this time period that I had never considered before, in part because the fact that Edward was the son Henry wanted, made me believe that his story was more straight forward than his sisters.

While I did like that there was a discussion of the men surrounding Edward, particularly Somerset and Northumberland, I did feel that there were points in the book when Edward got a bit lost. Kline did do a nice job of discussing the turmoil of the time and also adding in Edward's own journal entries to keep him as part of the narrative.

This was a well-written and researched book. Any lover of Tudor history and history more generally is likely to enjoy Kline's argument for Edward VI the reformer King.

NetGalley, Shana Needham

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The sickly boy king who didn't reign very long and was overshadowed by his family of Tudor monarchs. This was my impression of Edward VI; my actual knowledge of him was scant. So I was interested to discover this scholarly account of his life and reign, based on a huge amount of research, if the bibliography is anything to go by.
Suddenly Edward came alive for me - the longed-for male heir who was healthy, bright, sporty and well educated. Who was very like his father both physically and intellectually, intended to be King right from the moment of his birth and nurtured accordingly. Stephanie Kline brings us an Edward who is feisty, who, although young, is capable of making his own decisions and intelligent enough to make them well. It was only in the final few months, suffering from what was probably TB, that Edward became the ill teenager he is sadly remembered as.

Although the book is not fiction, it is well written enough to be engaging and to immerse the reader into the life of Edward and his Tudor court, his advisors and his policies. And throughout the book runs the thread of the Reformation, and of the huge influence the reign of Edward had upon both Protestantism in general and upon the Church of England itself - how today's Church was shaped and formed by decisions Edward himself made, guided by Archbishop Cranmer and other leading reformers . Far from being pushed around by the Lord Protector, Edward helped pave the way for Elizabeth I's reign to become one of peace and prosperity. There were huge religious as well as political upheavals during his reign, and this book sets out to show the importance of these for England, and to overthrow the 'bleak and inaccurate portrayals of this life that have persisted for so long.'

The final pages contrast his reign with those of his cousin, Lady Jane Queen, who unwillingly and resignedly reigned for just 9 days, and of his half-sister Mary, who is better remembered yet had a shorter reign than did Edward. And whose efforts to overturn Edward's reforming activities and laws signally failed to have long-term impact.

Overall, a fascinating, well-written and well-researched biography of Edward VI, the last Tudor King.

NetGalley, Penelope Swithinbank

An in depth, thoroughly researched but not dull in any way look into the life of Edward VI and those in his brief life. I have read a few other books about Edward but this was chronicled in perfect timing from the beginning of his life until the end and after. What was the most important to me was that it was never dry - the author made it very interesting. I also appreciated the many pictures at the end. Highly recommended to all Tudor fans and those who just want to learn more about the history of the British monarch.

NetGalley, Christine Cazeneuve

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Tudors are perhaps the most famous of England’s royal families. A weak claim to the throne made Henry VII King and the excesses of his son Henry VIII are legendary. By 1537, Henry had proved that he could do whatever he wanted. His first wife Catherine had been divorced and exiled to the country, his second wife Anne beheaded and the Church of England replaced the Catholic religion. All because of what he wanted most - a son. When third wife Jane Seymour give birth to Edward, there was much celebration. And when Henry died nine years later, there was a dynastic struggle that continued during Edward’s six year reign. Henry’s will was quickly set aside and a Protector was named. The conflict that followed was dominated by warring brothers from the same family, unrest over links between Scotland and France and the continued development of the Church of England. This was the lasting legacy of Edward VI. The young King was a religious Protestant and greatly influenced by the Reformation. Under his rule Latin Mass was eliminated and the Book of Common Prayer was introduced. His religion led him to ignore his two sisters and name his cousin, Lady Jane Grey, as his successor. Unfortunately, this led to rebellion, the execution of Lady Jane and the cruelties of Queen Mary.

Edward VI: Henry VIII's Overshadowed Son is well researched and reads like fiction. Stephanie Kline shows that he was not a sickly child and weak boy King. With her words, we see him as educated and outgoing. This biography makes us wonder what he would have accomplished had he lived longer. 5 stars.

NetGalley, Kathleen Hughes

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I have read a lot of books about Henry VIII, his six wives, his parents, and his daughters Mary and Elizabeth, but this is the first book I have read that was about his son Edward VI. It was nice to read a history devoted to him and not just a blurb about him in another person's story. He had an impact on the Protestant Reformation that was bigger than I had previously thought. This book was worth the read through.

NetGalley, Stephanie Peterson

About Stephanie Kline

Stephanie Kline holds a Master of Studies degree in Modern British & European History from Mansfield College, University of Oxford. Since 2011, she has run the popular website, The Tudor Enthusiast, where she blogs about all things related to the Tudor dynasty. Edward VI: Henry VIII's Overshadowed Son is Stephanie's first historical biography. She lives in Virginia with her husband and two children. For more information, visit www.thetudorenthusiast.weebly.com.

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