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Two witnesses were required for proof of treason instead of only one. Although the measure received support in the House of Commons , its passage contributed to Somerset's reputation for what later historians perceived as his liberalism. During the early part of the 16th century large numbers of farmers changed from growing crops to raising sheep. This involved enclosing arable land and turning it into pasture for sheep. Sheep farming became so profitable that large landowners began to enclose common land.

For hundreds of years this land had been used by all the people who lived in the village. Many people became very angry about this and villagers began tearing down the hedges that had been used to enclose the common land. Mary Tudor. Henry VIII. Henry VII. Anne Boleyn. Popular rebellions and riots began in the west of England in and spread through more than half the counties of England over the next few months.

Some of those involved demonstrated against Somerset's religious programme. Revolt began in Cornwall in April when the clergy and commoners resisted the removal of religious images from parish churches and killed a government official, while in Somerset weavers and other commoners pulled down hedges and fences.

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Edward Seymour urged compassion and on 14th June , he persuaded Edward VI to pardoned all those people who had torn down hedges enclosing common land. Many landless people thought that this meant that their king disapproved of enclosures. All over the country people began to destroy hedges that landowners had used to enclose common land. As Roger Lockyer , the author of Tudor and Stuart Britain , pointed out: "Somerset's championship of the common people won him their acclaim. It also promoted them to demonstrations which were designed to show their support for him, but which quickly developed into massive protest movements that no government could have tolerated or ignored.

Edward Seymour was blamed by the nobility and gentry for the social unrest.

They believed his statements about political reform had encouraged rebellion. His reluctance to employ force and refusal to assume military leadership merely made matters worse. Seymour's critics also disliked his popularity with the common people and considered him to be a potential revolutionary. Archbishop Thomas Cranmer supported the Duke of Somerset but few others took his side. In January , John Dudley , 2nd Earl of Warwick, who was now the most powerful figure in the government, ordered his release.

Warwick recognised Cecil's talents as an administrator and by September he was a Privy Councillor. A few weeks later Cecil was asked to write a paper on Emperor Charles V and the dangers of a military invasion. In the document he argued: "The emperor is aiming at the sovereignty of Europe, which he cannot obtain without the suppression of the reformed religion; and unless he crushes the English nation, he cannot crush the reformation.

Besides religion, he has a further quarrel with England, and the Catholic party will leave no stone unturned to bring about our overthrow. We are not agreed among ourselves. The majority of our people will be with our adversaries. Roger Ascham commented: "William Cecil It is claimed by Richard Rex that Elizabeth had recognised his administrative abilities.

John Dudley , 2nd Earl of Warwick, became the king's main adviser and in October he was granted the title, Duke of Northumberland. It has been claimed that the secret of his power was that he took the young king seriously. To be successful he "knew that he must accommodate the boy's keen intelligence and also his sovereign will". By this time the king clearly "possessed a powerful sense that he and not his council embodied royal authority". However, foreign observers did not believe that Edward was making his own decisions.

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The French ambassador reported that "Northumberland visited the King secretly at night in the King's Chamber, unseen by anyone, after all were asleep. The next day the young Prince came to his council and proposed matters as if they were his own; consequently, everyone was amazed, thinking that they proceeded from his mind and by his invention. William Cecil was now considered one of the most important of Northumberland's advisers and was rewarded by being knighted on 11th October His biographer, Wallace T. MacCaffrey , has pointed out: "Cecil was kept busy with routine tasks but he cultivated the career possibilities of the office, establishing wide contacts, particularly with protestant humanists at home or serving abroad as diplomats.

He moved in a circle which mingled clergy of the reformed persuasion with sympathetic laity.

William Cecil (1st Baron Burghley) (The Diary of Samuel Pepys)

King Edward VI died on 6th July, Mary fled to Kenninghall in Norfolk. Men like Sir Henry Bedingfield arrived with troops or money as soon as they heard the news, and as she moved to the more secure fortress at Framlingham, Suffolk, local magnates like Sir Thomas Cornwallis, who had hesitated at first, also joined her forces.

William Cecil initially supported Northumberland and organized a meeting at the Tower of London on 19th July of senior figures in the government. Cecil was forced to sign the document changing the order of succession cutting out Mary and Elizabeth in favour of Lady Jane , but he was unhappy about it and made sure he had witnesses to his misgivings.

He therefore decided to support Mary.

Richard Rex argues that this development had consequences for her sister, Elizabeth : "Once it was clear which way the wind was blowing, she Elizabeth gave every indication of endorsing her sister's claim to the throne. Self-interest dictated her policy, for Mary's claim rested on the same basis as her own, the Act of Succession of It is unlikely that Elizabeth could have outmanoeuvred Northumberland if Mary had failed to overcome him.

It was her good fortune that Mary, in vindicating her own claim to the throne, also safeguarded Elizabeth's. The problem for Dudley was that the vast majority of the English people still saw themselves as "Catholic in religious feeling; and a very great majority were certainly unwilling to see - King Henry's eldest daughter lose her birthright.


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Tried for high treason on 18th August he claimed to have done nothing save by the king's command and the privy council's consent. Mary had him executed at Tower Hill on 22nd August. In his final speech he warned the crowd to remain loyal to the Catholic Church. William Cecil declined offers to serve in Mary's government. He was unwilling to be the executor of Catholic policy, but he remained on good terms with the new regime.

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Later he attended Pole in a secretarial capacity in an attempted mediation between the Emperor Charles V and France. In the summer of Queen Mary began to get pains in her stomach and thought she was pregnant. This was important to Mary as she wanted to ensure that a Catholic monarchy would continue after her death. It was not to be. Mary had stomach cancer. Mary now had to consider the possibility of naming Elizabeth as her successor.


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Although their relations were not always overtly hostile, Mary had long disliked and distrusted Elizabeth. She had resented her at first as the child of her own mother's supplanter, more recently as her increasingly likely successor. She took exception both to Elizabeth's religion and to her personal popularity, and the fact that first Wyatt's and then Dudley's risings aimed to install the princess in her place did not make Mary love her any more.

But although she was several times pressed to send Elizabeth to the block, Mary held back, perhaps dissuaded by considerations of her half-sister's popularity, compounded by her own childlessness, perhaps by instincts of mercy. Mary died, aged forty-two, on 17th November He was thirty-eight, "quiet, formidable, with a spare frame and clear, pale eyes in a forehead oppressed by care Queen Elizabeth trusted Cecil to give him good advice.

They both saw the nation's future as bound up with the Protestant Reformation. She told Cecil and her Privy Council: "I give you this charge that you shall be of my Privy Council and content to take pains for me and my realm. This judgement I have of you that you will not be corrupted by any manner of gift and that you will be faithful to the state; and that without respect of my private will, you will give me that counsel which you think best and if you shall know anything necessary to me of secrecy, you shall show it to myself only.

And assure yourself I will not fail to keep taciturnity therein and therefore herewith I charge you. According to his biographer, Wallace T.