ABSTRACT

THERE is no greater mistake, and none more common, than to assume that the whole reign of Edward VI. is one period, marked throughout by the same characteristics, methods, and aims. In reality it is as misleading to identify the policy of Somerset with that of his successor, Northumberland, as it would be to confuse Girondins with Jacobins in the history of the French Revolution. The year 1549, when Somerset fell, saw a change not merely in the personnel of the Government, but in every sphere of its activity, in its attitude towards civil and religious liberty, in its treatment of social questions, in its view of the relations between Church and State, and in its management of foreign affairs. 1 The one element of continuity was that Cranmer remained Archbishop of Canterbury under Northumberland’s régime as he had been under that of Protector Somerset. But Cranmer had never been in a position to dictate the ecclesiastical policy 247of the Government, and his continuance in the Primacy no more proves that the Second Book of Common Prayer was the natural and inevitable outcome of the First than it proves that the Six were the natural and inevitable outcome of the Ten Articles. It was this revolution of 1549 and its consequences which provoked and embittered reaction and brought the chief actors in it, and others less guilty, like Cranmer, to a violent and untimely end.