Edward Seymour Duke of Somerset

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Edward Seymour Duke of Somerset
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J Houbraken after Holbein
Edward Seymour Duke of Somerset
London, Knapton 1738
Copper engraving
380 x 240 mm
Seymour was the eldest son of Sir John Seymour and brother to Jane Seymour, the third wife of Henry VIII. With such a connection, it was guaranteed that Edward Seymour would rise in the household of the king..
Under Henry, Edward served as a soldier, diplomat and politician. Seymour served as Lord Admiral from 1542 to 1543 and fought in Scotland and France between 1544 and 1546. By the time of Henry’s death in 1547, Seymour was the leading political figure in the land
Seymour put the country’s religious guidance in the hands of Thomas Cranmer; Seymour himself became the Protector of the Realm and Duke of Somerset and Protestantism became the religion of the land.
Seymour lost the vital support of the king. Edward saw Dudley as the most important politician in the land. Seymour himself simply angered many and his failure to realise this almost certainly led to his downfall. As an example, Seymour started the building of Somerset House in London. This required the demolition of numerous church properties and did little to endear him to the public.
When the time was ripe, Seymour’s erstwhile friend, John Dudley, seized his opportunity. Whereas Seymour had angered many, Dudley had spent his time developing important friendships. There was little controversy that could be attached to Dudley. There were many who wanted to get rid of Seymour. All Dudley had to do was to knit together his support and the antagonism that was directed at Seymour.
On October 10th 1549, Seymour was arrested. However, he was released on February 2nd 1550 as at this stage little could be proved except incompetence, which was not a capital offence. There is little doubt that Dudley wanted Seymour permanently out of the way as a live Seymour always represented a potential threat. On October 16th, 1551 Seymour was arrested for conspiracy. This was a false charge but such was the opposition to him, that this was ignored. On January 22nd, 1552, he was taken to Tower Hill and executed. He was replaced by the man who had been his friend but who had worked to removed him from power – John Dudley.