Edward VI: The Lost King of England

Written by Chris Skidmore
Review by Geraldine Perriam

The ‘tagline’ of this work is ‘the struggle for the soul of England after the death of Henry VIII’. This is important because this book is so much more than a biography of ‘the Boy King’. Both accessible and academic, the strong presence of contemporary sources and eyewitness accounts contributes to a greater understanding of the Tudor world view. In addition Skidmore introduces rich contemporary detail such as the medicament used on Edward’s troubling eyes (probably a result of measles), or the suppression of the traditional pre-Reformation practices to celebrate Candlemas, Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday and its effect on the ordinary parishioner. Such details flesh out the context of the reign and give the reader insight into the lives of those who were not part of the Court and its intrigues; the often overlooked ‘ordinary’ citizens, whose lives during these times are frequently unrecorded and unremarked. This is a biography that provides a political, religious and cultural context to the life of its subject, particularly important in the case of Edward’s youthful and short reign. It is, in addition, a superb source book and of interest to those with specialist knowledge of the Tudor period as well as those seeking to improve a more general understanding.