Edward was Duke of Cornwall from his birth, but he was never prince of Wales. He was only nine years old when he succeeded his father as king of England and Ireland and supreme head of the English church (28th of January 1546/7). Projects for his marriage were hardly even the occasion, but only the excuse, for Somerset's war on Scotland and Northumberland's subsequent alliance with France.
All factions looked to control his person, not because of his personality but because of his position. The Protector's brother [Edward's uncle, Thomas Seymour] tried to bribe him with pocket-money. Northumberland was more subtle and established a complete dominion over his mind, and then put him forward at the age of fourteen as entitled to all the power of Henry VIII. But he was only Northumberland's mask; of his individual influence on the course of history during his reign there is hardly a trace. A posthumous effort was made to give him the credit of a humane desire to save Joan Bocher from the flames; but he recorded with apparently cold-blooded indifference the execution of both his uncles, and he made no attempt to mitigate the harassing attentions which the council paid his sister Mary. This passed for piety with the zealots, and the persecutions of Mary's reign reflected a halo on that of the Protestant Josiah. The regret that rumours of his survival persisted was so strong, and youths were found to personate him throughout Mary's and even far into Elizabeth's reign.
It was obvious that they were false because Edward showed signs of all the Tudor obstinacy. His health began to fail in 1552, and in May 1553 it was known that he was dying. But his will and the various drafts of it only betray the