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April 10, 1550 – Somerset Readmitted to Edward’s Council

Edward VI in Council, from Cassell’s Illustrated History of England, Volume 2 (Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

After Henry VIII died in 1547, Edward Seymour seized control of the Regency Council established for his 9-year-old nephew (the new Edward VI), naming himself both Lord Protector and Duke of Somerset in the process. Over the next couple of years, Somerset committed a series of political and management blunders, and finally the others on the Council started to push back. In October 1549, in an effort to retain his power, Somerset made a huge mistake: he took possession of the King’s person and took him to the fortified and easily-defended Windsor Castle…This got Somerset arrested for treason – thrown off the Council and into the Tower.

Seymour’s readmission to the Council only six months later (heck, even just his release from the Tower) was a remarkable turnaround. It was orchestrated by supporters who heavily lobbied the Council, arguing that Somerset was a loyal servant of the Crown and that he had been wrongly accused. They also pointed out that his removal from power had caused a power vacuum that destabilized the country, and claimed his reinstatement would be a sign of stability and continuity. While many members of the Council were hesitant to readmit Somerset, believing he would try to reassert his authority and/or seek revenge against his enemies, they eventually relented.

In the end, Somerset’s second stint on the Council would be short-lived. He quickly became embroiled in new conflicts with other members of the Council, and his policies continued to face opposition, most notably from John Dudley who succeeded Somerset as head of Edward’s Council and became the Duke of Northumberland . Northumberland eventually had Somerset removed from power in sent back to the Tower of London, where he remained until his execution in 1552. Neither Northumberland nor Edward lingered long after that point (they both died in 1553).


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