Who Was … Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset?

Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, was the brother of Henry VIII’s third wife, Jane Seymour. He was Earl of Hertford under Henry VIII and then became Duke of Somerset on the accession of Edward VI. He was Lord Protector during the beginning of Edward’s minority between 1547 and 1549 and was eventually executed in 1552 for plotting against his successor as Protector – John Dudley, the Duke of Northumberland. His role in his own brother’s execution is disputed.

Name: Edward Seymour

Title/s: Viscount Beauchamp of Hache / Earl of Hertford / Duke of Somerset / Lord Protector of England

Birth: c. 1500, probably at Wolf Hall

Death: 22 January 1552, executed on Tower Hill

Buried: Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London

Spouse: Catherine Filliol (m.c.1527) / Anne Stanhope (m.1535)

Children: John Seymour 1527-1552 / Edward Seymour 1529-1593 (by Catherine Filliol) / Edward Seymour Viscount Beauchamp of Hache 1537-1539 / Edward Seymour Earl of Hertford 1539-1621 / Anne Dudley Countess of Warwick 1538-1588 / Henry Seymour 1540-? / Margaret Seymour 1540-? / Jane Seymour 1541-1561 / Catherine Seymour ?-? / Edward Seymour 1548-1574 / Mary Rogers (1552-?) / Elizabeth Seymour 1552-1602 (by Anne Stanhope)

Parents: Sir John Seymour (c.1474-1536) & Margery Wentworth (c.1478-1550)

Siblings: John Seymour ?-1510 / Henry Seymour 1503-1578 / Thomas Baron Seymour c.1508-1549 / John Seymour ?-? / Anthony Seymour ?-1528 / Jane Seymour Queen of England c.1509-1537 / Margery Seymour ?-1528 / Elizabeth Cromwell c.1518-1568 / Dorothy Leventhorpe c.1519-?

Noble Connections: Through his sister, Jane’s, marriage to Henry VIII Edward was the brother-in-law of Henry VIII and uncle to Edward VI. His sister, Elizabeth, also married the son of Thomas Cromwell. His brother, Thomas, would marry Katherine Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII. Edward would be executed for a supposed coup against the man who would replace his as Lord Protector – John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland.

Controversy: The main controversy surrounding Edward Seymour is about his Protectorship of Edward VI, and how he dealt with the Kett rebellion of 1549. At the time it was suggested that Seymour sympathised too much with the rebels and so wasn’t harsh enough in suppressing the rebellion.

Works of Fiction:

  • Lane, Jane, Heirs of Squire Harry (1974)
  • Twain, Mark The Prince and the Pauper (1881)
  • Weir, Alison, Jane Seymour: the Haunted Queen (2018)

Portrayals on Screen:

  • John Bowe, The Prince and the Pauper, 1996, 6 episodes
  • Max Brown, The Tudors, 2008-2010, 21 episodes

Further Reading:

  • Alford, Stephen, Kinship and Politics in the Reign of Edward VI (2002)
  • Elton, G.R., England Under the Tudors (1962)
  • Jordan, W.K., Edward VI: the Young King, the Protectorship of the Duke of Somerset (1968)
  • Loades, David, Intrigue and Treason: the Tudor Court 1547-1558 (2004)
  • Loades, David, The Seymours of Wolf Hall: a Tudor Family Story (2015)
  • Scard, Margaret, Edward Seymour, Lord Protector: Tudor King in All But Name (2016)
  • Seymour, William, Ordeal by Ambition: an English Family in the Shadow of the Tudors (1972)
  • Skidmore, Chris, Edward VI: the Lost King of England (2007)
  • Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and Earl of Hertford.
  • Arms of Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset

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