Edward was born to great fanfare and relief at Hampton Court Palace as the only legitimate son of Henry VIII, though his mother, Henry’s third wife Jane Seymour, died of complication from the birth and labor, which lasted for three days. The prince was brought up by stepmothers and the women of his father’s household, and though he was only nine years old when he came to the throne of England and Ireland, he was highly intelligent and talented, and is described as a rather aloof young man, though he was also generous and kind like his mother, whom he was said to resemble right down to the color of his blond hair.
When in 1553 Edward grew devastatingly ill with what many believe to be tuberculosis (similar to his illegitimate half-brother Henry Fitzroy who died of the disease in 1536), he knew that he had to take drastic steps for his succession; while his oldest sister Mary was supposed to inherit the crown next, she was a devout Catholic and Edward had worked to secure Protestantism as the official religion of his country and feared that she would undo all he and his father had accomplished with the Reformation, and Elizabeth’s true legitimacy was still questioned due to charges of adultery and high treason that led to the execution of her mother Anne Boleyn. In a bold move, he declared in his will that his successor would be his cousin Lady Jane Grey, daughter of the Duchess of Suffolk and granddaughter to Henry VIII’s sister. When Edward finally did die at the age of just fifteen, it sparked a small civil war between Jane’s family (she was married to the son of the ambitious Duke of Northumberland who wanted a puppet to control on the throne) and Mary, who was the rightful heir. In the End, Jane ruled for just nine short days before being imprisoned in the Tower of London where she was later executed along with her husband and father-in-law and Mary was declared Queen of England in her own right.