Who was the real Edward VI?

The Tudor boy king is often painted as a sickly puppet. But as Stephen Alford – author of a recent biography – reveals, he may actually have been much like his father, Henry VIII

A portrait of King Edward VI of England. (Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

This article was first published in the Christmas 2014 issue of BBC History Magazine

The words are spare and factual: “The Duke of Somerset had his head cut off upon Tower Hill between eight and nine o’clock in the morning.” Blunt, uncompromising, these are not the words of masterful Henry VIII but were written by Henry’s 14-year-old son and heir, Edward VI, in 1552.

Want to read more?

Become a BBC History Magazine subscriber today to unlock all premium articles in The Library

Unlock now