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To What Extent Was There A “Mid Tudor Crisis” During The Reigns Of Edward Vi And Mary I?

2112 words - 9 pages

TO WHAT EXTENT WAS THERE A "MID TUDOR CRISIS" DURING THE REIGNS OF EDWARD VI AND MARY I? "The mid-Tudor crisis" is a term often used by historians to describe the reigns of Edward VI (1547-1553) and Mary I (1553-1558). This period can be seen as a crisis, due to the fact that there were so many problems financially, socially, religiously and constitutionally, which led to rebellions, and placed the country in a very unstable position.It is clear that many of the origins of this 'crisis' have their roots in the reign of Henry VIII. He left a very difficult legacy to his successors, but it must be remembered that Somerset provoked the problems already in existence and Northumberland and ...view middle of the document...

This in itself is a crisis, the fact that the ruler of the country is only nine years old when he ascends to the throne. This is because Edward VI will need people to help him rule, being Somerset and Northumberland, and therefore their own interests will come through the King.This can be shown through the succession crisis, which happened after the death of Edward VI. Henry's will dictated that Mary should reign if Edward died without an heir. However Northumberland tried to change the succession himself, proclaiming Lady Jane Grey queen. However, the support in the country for Mary, the rightful heir, was good enough, that a potential political crisis was avoided. Northumberland deliberately tried to promote his own interests, Lady Jane Grey being his daughter in law.The main problem in Edward VI's reign was that he wasn't older enough to rule for himself. Therefore this gave an open door way to noblemen who wanted to get what they want by influencing the new king. As stated above Edward Seymour, later Duke of Somerset emerged as the leader to advise Edward VI. Somerset, once in power ruled more like a king than a regent did. Evidence has survived that showed Somerset tried to govern without the council and instead with the advice from his own members. Because of this, Somerset became isolated and could not get the support of councillors when he later needed it 1559.In 1547 England was virtually bankrupt. Somerset worsened the situation, by seizing more Church property, (The Chantries Act of 1540) and by debasing the coinage. He could have reformed the taxation and customs systems and brought the financial administration up to date, which was desperately needed. But his failings as a ruler are demonstrated by his lack of effort. When compared to Northumberland, and even Mary, neither of whom should be held responsible for financial problems, it can be seen that Somerset contributed to the crisis. It was Northumberland who realised it was necessary to end the wars. This showed realism even though it was "inglorious", and it was he who re-evaluated the coinage in 1552, and who laid the foundations for the reformation of the revenue courts, which took place under Mary.Northumberland also established the Privy Coffer to provide contingency funds. Mary herself reformed the customs and introduced the book of rates in 1558. There was also, as Guy perceives a shift towards 'national finance'. Although the period 1552-8 is still described as a crisis, it must be remembered that there were some productive reforms and that the situation did not decline. Historians such as Pollard who see government as "sterile, impotent and unproductive" at this time do not seem to have taken into account these positive financial developments. It is evident that Henry was at the root of the financial problems and that Somerset exacerbated them. However the positive achievements of Northumberland and Mary must not be forgotten.Somerset lacked charm and made enemies...

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