Saturday, May 23, 2009

Question from Alex - Edward VI and Catholicism

I have another question.

This is about Edward and the Catholic religion.

I was wondering if it was true if Edward hated the Catholic religion. But he wanted to marry Mary quuen of scotts which I can't understand the thing about why he changed religion.

I know I am a Christian but I am a bit mixed up why a sweet child would do a big thing esp when he wanted to marry someone from the catholic religion.

Alot of my friends said it was The Duke of Northumberland who did most of the things.

1 comment:

PhD Historian said...

A complicated question with a complicated answer.....

First, I suspect it is incorrect to call Edward "a sweet child." He was the King of England, and as such he was required in the last years of his reign to make difficult decisions that no "sweet child" usually faces. We cannot and should not think of Edward was a "normal" child.

Secondly, there is no evidence to suggest that Edward had a personal interest or actual desire to wed Mary Stuart. The match was just one of many proposed for him. Others included a marriage to Jane Grey or to Elizabeth of France (the latter was still being considered at the time of his death). Edward's marriage was a matter of state, and he almost certainly understood that. The choice of a bride was not his alone, but was instead to be made in consultation with the leading politicians, and he knew that, too. In his diary, which ends in 1552, he speaks rather disinterestedly of plans being made by others for him to marry.

Edward was expected to make a marriage match that would be advantageous for the kingdom. That almost always meant a match with a foreign princess. The vast majority of foreign princesses were Roman Catholic, however. The unstated hope was that the wife would convert to Edward's religion after the marriage. It was customary for the wife to follow the lead and instruction of the husband in matters of religion, in that period.

Lastly, I think it is incorrect to say that "Edward hated the Catholic religion." Religion played a more important role in the lives of the majority of the population than it does today, so it is perhaps difficult for us to understand the feelings of people in the Tudor era regardng religion. Edward's concern was for "right" religion. That is, the tutors and chaplains employed by his father had taught him since early childhood that "popery" was not the "true faith" mandated by the New Testament, but was instead the invention of popes and priests made over the previous thousand years and more. The concern of Edward, his tutors and chaplains, and his religious advisors, was to return Christianity to its New Testament roots. That meant removal of popes and of many of the ritual practices developed over the centuries by the Roman Catholic Church. Edward did not "change religion" so much as he continued the reforms that had begun in England even before his birth. Edward carried out many of the changes that a minority of people had alreday been seeking for almost two decades. And he did not accomplish the religious changes single-handedly. Edward may have been the official head of the movement that issued the Books of Common Prayer of 1549 and 1552, but the actual hands-on work of it was carried out by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other church leaders.

I've tried to keep this brief and simple, so if you have other specific questions about the issue or need points clarified, feel free to ask.