English History Timeline 1540-1549

Henry VIII Edward VI

This timeline gives a chronological listing of the main events in English history for the years 1540 – 1549

The monarchs for this period were:
Henry VIII to Jan 1547
Edward VI from Jan 1547


1540 (1st January)
King Henry VIII decided to pay his new bride, Anne of Cleves, a surprise visit and, armed with a New Year’s gift, rode to Rochester. However when he saw her he was so horrified that he left the gift with Sir Anthony Browne and rode back to London.
1540 (2nd January)
King Henry told Thomas Cromwell that he was not at all pleased with his new bride and postponed the wedding from the 4th to 6th January. He wanted to use the time to find a loophole in the marriage contract that would allow him to get out of the marriage. Henry knew that he dare not offend Germany and when no loophole could be found he resigned himself to the marriage.
1540 (3rd January)
Anne of Cleves made her official entry into London. A banquet was held at Greenwich to celebrate the event.
1540 (6th January)
Henry VIII married Anne of Cleves in the Chapel Royal at Greenwich Palace. The ceremony was performed by Archbishop Cranmer. After changing their clothes the married couple attended a sumptuous banquet after which the couple were officially put to bed. However, Henry was unable to consummate his marriage.
1540 (March)
Henry told the privy council that his conscience would not allow him to consummate his present marriage because there had been a pre-contract between Anne and the Duke of Lorraine.
1540 (Spring)
With the failure of the marriage set up by Cromwell, the Catholic, Conservative faction headed by Norfolk and Gardiner set about over-throwing Cromwell. They arranged for Henry to meet the Duke of Norfolk’s young niece, Kathryn Howard, aged fifteen hoping that if she found favour with the King it would help advance their faction. After Henry met Kathryn she was often at court. The Conservative faction worked towards effecting Cromwell’s downfall.
1540 (April)
All religious houses were now closed. Some survived as cathedrals while new cathedrals were built on the sites of other monasteries. All displaced monks and nuns were paid a pension for life but as the pension did not rise with inflation most were very poor within a few years.
1540 (Late April)
Henry was far more taken with the petite, attractive, young Kathryn Howard than with his wife. He made grants of land to the Howard family.
1540 (10th June)
A Bill of Attainder was drawn up against Cromwell. The bill relied largely on the evidence of Richard Rich. Cromwell was arrested in the King’s name by Norfolk and taken to the Tower of London.
1540 (late June)
Kathryn Howard had been installed in Lambeth Palace and was openly visited by the King.
1540 (6th July)
A commission was issued that gave the English clergy the power to pass judgement on the King’s marriage. Anne of Cleves consented to a divorce.
1540 (8th July)
Henry’s fourth marriage was ruled invalid on the grounds of Anne’s pre-contract to the Duke of Lorraine, inadequate consent and non-consummation.
1540 (9th July)
Henry received official notification that his fourth marriage was invalid and that he was now free to re-marry. Anne was told of the decision by a deputation of the Privy Council. She was now to be called the King’s sister and would receive an annual income of £4,000. She was also given the manors of Bletchingly and Richmond for her own use.
1540 (11th July)
Anne of Cleves wrote to Henry formally acknowledging the dissolution of their marriage.
1540 (28th July)
Henry married Kathryn Howard at the Palace of Oatlands. The ceremony was performed by Bishop Bonner of London.
1540 (28th July)
Thomas Cromwell was executed by beheading in front of a large crowd on Tower Hill.
1540 (late July)
Thomas Wriothesley was appointed Lord Chamberlain.
1540 (August)
The wedding celebrations for Henry’s fifth marriage lasted most of the month and included hunting excursions, and banquets. Kathryn wore a new dress every day.
1540 (22nd August)
Henry and Kathryn left Windsor on a Summer progress.
1540 (October)
Henry granted Kathryn all the lands and manors which had belonged to Jane Seymour.
1540 (22nd October)
The royal couple returned to Windsor Palace.
1540 (30th December)
The new Deputy of Ireland, Sir Anthony St Leger, advised Henry to put an end to papal pretensions in Ireland and assume the title King of Ireland.
1540 (31st December)
South East Coast fortifications were completed by the end of the year.
1541 (mid February)
Henry was taken ill and it was feared that he was dying. His injured leg had got progressively worse over the years and he was now often chair-bound. This made him depressed and he spent long periods of time in his room.
1541 (late Spring)
News reached London of a Yorkshire uprising led by John Neville, a fervent Catholic who wished to depose the President of the North.
1541 (May)
Concerned that the Yorkshire uprising would lead to a return to power of the Plantagenets, Henry ordered that the death sentence against Margaret Pole be carried out.
1541 (May)
A royal proclamation was issued which ordered that Coverdale’s Great Bible of 1539 be made available to all people. The Catholic faction were hot happy because they felt that this Bible was too radical.
1541 (28th May)
Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, aged 68 years, was executed by beheading on Tower Hill. The executioner was young and inexperienced and took several blows to sever the head.
1541 (19th June)
The Irish parliament proclaimed Henry VIII King of Ireland.
1541 (Summer)
Henry visited Yorkshire with Kathryn Howard and Lady Mary. He hoped that a royal visit to the area might help prevent further uprisings.
1541 (late July)
The leaders of the Yorkshire rising were executed.
1541 (27th August)
Francis Derehem was recommended by the Duchess of Norfolk for the post of Queen’s Private Secretary. Kathryn had known Derehem in the past and did not want to employ someone who was familiar with her earlier life. However, she knew that if she did not employ him then she would have to give an explanation which would mean divulging things about her early life that she would prefer kept private.
1541 (late August)
Kathryn sent a secret invitation to her former lover, Thomas Culpeper, to meet her. Culpeper forgot to destroy the note.
1541 (September)
Francis Derehem began to cause trouble for Kathryn. He knew he had a hold over her due to his having knowledge of her previous life. As a result he was over-familiar with her and took continual liberties which made other members of the household jealous.
1541 (9th September)
Henry and Kathryn had travelled to York to meet James V of Scotland. During the evening Kathryn met Thomas Culpeper in Lady Rochford’s chamber.
1541 (1st October)
King James V had not shown up for the meeting with Henry VIII so Henry began the journey back to London.
1541 (early October)
John Lascelles told Cranmer that he knew things about the Queen that would affect her marriage. Cranmer was very interested especially since he wanted to see an end to the Catholic faction. Lascelles revealed that Kathryn had encouraged the advances of her music teacher, Henry Manox and that she had also had a secret relationship with Francis Derehem.
1541 (8th October)
Henry’s sister, Margaret, mother of James V of Scotland, died at Methuen castle in Scotland.
1541 (26th October)
Prince Edward was taken ill with a fever.
1541 (1st November)
Henry was informed of the details of Kathryn’s behaviour before her marriage. Henry was shocked and full of disbelief but ordered a full investigation.
1541 (5th November)
Henry was told that the allegations against the Queen were true and that she had been seeing Thomas Culpeper secretly while she was married. Henry took himself off to Oatlands Palace where he remained in seclusion.
1541 (6th November)
Francis Derehem, Henry Manox and other members of the Duchess of Norfolk’s house were arrested and sent to the Tower.
1541 (7th November)
Kathryn was questioned by Cranmer. She admitted that Derehem had visited her during the night while she was in the Duchess of Norfolk’s household. During the questioning she also mentioned Thomas Culpeper’s name and he too was arrested. Culpeper’s apartments were searched and a letter from Kathryn was found.
1541 (11th November)
Kathryn was placed under house arrest at Syon Abbey and Lady Rochford was taken to the Tower of London to await questioning.
1541 (mid November)
Jane Rochford was questioned and readily gave evidence against the Queen hoping to save herself. She was found guilty of aiding and abetting the Queen to commit treason and was returned to the Tower of London.
1541 (28th November)
A proclamation was made from Hampton Court that Kathryn would no longer be Queen and that she was to be referred to as Kathryn Howard.
1541 (1st December)
Thomas Culpeper was tried for treason. Although he protested his innocence stating that although he was infatuated with the Queen and they had spent time together, the Queen had not committed adultery with him. He was found guilty on the grounds that his thoughts and actions towards the Queen amounted to treason. Francis Derehem was charged with concealing the fact that there had been a relationship between himself and Kathryn Howard that amounted to a pre-contract. Both men were found guilty of treason and sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered.
1541 (10th December)
Thomas Culpeper and Francis Derehem were executed. Culpeper, who was of high birth, had his sentence commuted to beheading. Both men’s heads were set on pikes on London Bridge.
1541 (mid December)
Members of the Howard family were arrested and sent to the Tower for encouraging Kathryn’s marriage to the King even though they were aware of Kathryn’s past.
1541 (22nd December)
Those members of the Howard family imprisoned in the Tower were charged with treason for having concealed the former behaviour of Kathryn. They were all sentenced to imprisonment and loss of goods. They would remain in prison for nine months before being released.
1542 (16th January)
An act was passed which made it a treasonable offence for any unchaste woman to marry the King. It went on to say that any unchaste woman marrying the King without admitting it would be executed.
1542 (16th January)
Kathryn Howard and Lady Rochford were formally accused of high treason.
1542 (25th January)
Katherine was invited by the Council to defend herself against the accusations made against her. However, she declined saying that she would put herself at the King’s mercy. She asked that she be allowed to die in private.
1542 (6th February)
A Bill of Attainder was drawn up against Kathryn Howard and Lady Rochford.
1542 (10th February)
Kathryn Howard was taken, by barge, to the Tower of London to await execution. She was told that her request to die in private had been granted. She asked for a block so that she could practice putting her head on it.
1542 (13th February)
Kathryn Howard and Lady Rochford were executed by beheading. Kathryn’s remains were buried in the chapel of St Peter ad Vincular.
1542 (28th June)
Henry celebrated his fiftieth birthday. He was now very obese with a waist measurement of 54 inches. He was also in continual pain from his ulcerated leg.
1542 (Summer)
There were a series of French raids on English fishermen in the Channel. This led to a wave of anti-French feeling and Frenchmen were attacked in the streets.
1542 (August)
Henry ordered his men to muster in the North in readiness for an attack on Scotland. A great show was made of the preparations to instil fear into the Scottish soldiers.
1542 (24th August)
A force led by Sir Robert Bowes crossed the Scottish border between Jedburgh and Kelso to raid Teviotdale. However, he was beaten back by a Scottish force of 2,000 and taken prisoner. Henry insisted that the Scots had been the aggressors.
1542 (early September)
James V of Scotland asked for peace negotiations with England to be re-opened. Scottish ambassadors were to meet English representatives in York on 18th September. The proposed invasion date was put back to 6th October.
1542 (18th September)
Peace talks between the English and Scottish began. The English asked for the return of Bowes and other English prisoners and for James to visit the English court. However, negotiations broke down when James refused to travel further south than York and Henry refused to travel North.
1542 (October)
Henry offered Francis of France an alliance against Charles of Spain
1542 (22nd October)
English forces led by the Duke of Norfolk crossed the Scottish border at Berwick and burnt Roxborough, Kelso and many other small towns and villages.
1542 (24th October)
Battle of Solway Moss
Encouraged by Cardinal Beaton, James V led an army of 10,000 Scottish troops into England. Unfortunately the Scots were badly organised and were attacked just over the border with England by the English army of 3,000 men. The Scots found themselves fighting on boggy marshy ground at Solway Moss. The battle was a decisive victory for the English who captured a large number of Scottish noblemen.
1542 (8th December)
James V’s wife, Mary of Guise, gave birth to a daughter, Mary. James was disappointed that the child was not a boy.
1542 (14th December)
King James V of Scotland died at Falkland. His daughter, Mary Stuart, aged just six days was Queen of Scotland.
1542 (21st December)
Twenty of the most prominent Scottish noblemen captured at the Battle of Solway Moss were placed in the custody of English noblemen and were to live in their houses under house arrest.
1542 (late December)
Although the will of James V named a regency to govern until Mary came of age, James Hamilton, Earl of Arran who was second in line to the throne, seized the regency with the full backing of the Scottish Lairds.
1543 (1st January)
The Scottish noblemen taken prisoner at the Battle of Solway Moss were returned to Scotland. They were instructed to tell the regency that Henry, as nearest male kinsman to the young Queen of Scots, would not assert his claim to the overlordship of Scotland while there was a child on the throne. They were also to propose a match between the infant Queen and Prince Edward.
1543 (1st January)
Prince Edward, aged 5 years, performed his first public duty. He entertained the group of Scottish noblemen before they left for Scotland.
1543 (early)
Sir Ralph Sadler was sent as English ambassador to Scotland. He was told to try to ensure that the Earl of Arran keep to a pro-English policy and see if he could persuade the Earl to send Mary to England. However, Francis had already sent French troops to bolster the pro-French faction in Scotland and as most of the Scottish Lairds were Catholic, Arran’s hold on the regency was already weakening.
1543 (11th February)
Henry reached an agreement with Charles. They agreed to make a series of demands on Francis with included:
giving up the French alliance with Turkey
repaying Charles for costs incurred during the war with Turkey
giving Boulogne to England as security for his debts to England
Francis was given ten days to agree to the terms. He was told that failure to do so would result in a joint declaration of war by England and Spain.
1543 (16th February)
Henry made a gift of pleats and sleeves to Katherine Parr whose husband was on his death bed.
1543 (2nd March)
Lord Latimer, Katherine Parr’s husband, died. Although she was now a wealthy independent woman, Katherine chose to remain at court where she would continue to see Sir Thomas Seymour.
1543 (Spring)
An act was passed that set out conditions regarding the Bible. In church, the Bible was only to be read by persons appointed by the King. At home, merchants and gentlemen were allowed to read to themselves and their familes but all other women, prentices, serving men and persons of a base degree were not to read it at all.
1543 (4th April)
Henry wrote to the Earl of Arran proposing a match between Lady Elizabeth and the Earl of Arran’s son. One of the terms of the agreement would be that the Earl of Arran’s son would be sent to the English Court to be educated. Although Arran was tempted by the deal he declined fearing that his son might be held to ransom in England.
1543 (May)
Henry had noticed the infatuation between Katherine Parr and Thomas Seymour. As he had already decided to make Katherine Parr his sixth wife he sent Thomas Seymour as permanent ambassador at the court of the regent of the Netherlands.
1543 (22nd June)
Francis had made no move towards meeting the demands set out by England and Spain, England declared war on France.
1543 (1st July)
Treaty of Greenwich
This treaty agreed a marriage between Mary Queen of Scots and Prince Edward of England with Mary travelling to England when she was ten years old. A peace treaty between the two countries was also agreed.
1543 (early July)
Henry proposed to Katherine Parr who, although she wanted to marry Thomas Seymour, had little choice but to accept.
1543 (12th July)
Henry married Katherine Parr, a devout and committed Protestant, in the Queen’s Privy Chamber at Hampton Court. The King’s three children were present for the ceremony.
1543 (August)
With Henry’s approval, Katherine wrote to her three step-children inviting them to court. She took full charge of their education and welfare and ensured that the nursery was staffed with Protestant humanists. At court the children had honourable positions at court.
1543 (12th October)
Prince Edward began his formal education. He was taught classics, theology, languages, mathematics, grammar and sciences as well as gentlemanly pursuits and sport.
1543 (December)
The Catholic Cardinal Beaton regained power in Scotland and renewed the Auld Alliance with France. He repudiated the Treaty of Greenwich.
1543 (mid December)
Henry took the repudiation of the Treaty of Greenwich as a personal insult and ordered troops under Lord Hertford to attack Scotland.
1543 (mid December)
Katherine’s brother was created Earl of Essex and became a member of the Privy Council.
1543 (late)
Henry commissioned a painting of himself, his wife and three children but asked that his third wife, Jane Seymour be painted as his wife.
1543 (31st December)
It was agreed that England and Spain would jointly attack France in the new year.
1544 (January)
Henry shocked the Council by announcing that he would personally lead the English army into France. They doubted that Henry would be able to lead the army due to his size and limited mobility.
1544 (late January)
Henry learned that the former pro English Scotsmen – Angus, Glencairn and Cassillis – had agreed to join with Cardinal Beaton against the English. He told Suffolk to be ready to invade Scotland in March.
1544 (7th February)
Act of Succession
This act stipulated that Edward was to succeed Henry to the throne with any children of his present marriage being next in line followed by Lady Mary and Lady Elizabeth.
1544 (Spring)
Fearing an English invasion, Mary Queen of Scots was taken to a remote abbey where she was to remain in hiding.
1544 (May)
The English treasury was nearly empty so in an attempt to raise more money the coinage was debased. The value of gold and silver was increased while the purity of the coinage was reduced. This move enabled Henry to make a great profit on the sale of his plate and bullion.
1544 (3rd May)
Thomas Wriothesley became Chancellor.
1544 (7th May)
Hertford went on a raiding expedition into Scotland. He burnt Edinburgh, Holyrood HOuse and Leigh before returning to Berwick. The move united all the Scottish nobles against England.
1544 (late June)
Henry and Katherine attended the wedding of Henry’s niece, Lady Margaret Douglas and the Earl of Lennox.
1544 (7th July)
The Privy Council were told that Katherine was to be regent during the King’s absence in France. Her advisors were to be Cranmer, Wriothesley, Hertford, Dr Thirlby and William Petre.
1544 (13th July)
The King’s three children were among the guests attending a supper party in Hyde Park given by the King on the evening before he left for France.
1544 (14th July)
Henry and an army of 40,000 men crossed the Channel to Calais.
1544 (25th July)
The Council had hoped that Henry would remain in Calais but he left Calais in full armour riding a charger at the head of his army.
1544 (26th July)
The English army lay siege to Boulogne. Henry personally directed military operations from a building which had been especially erected to the North of the town.
1544 (early August)
Katherine and the royal children left London to avoid an outbreak of the plague. They stayed with the Countess of Rutland at Oakham.
1544 (September)
Due to a shortage of funds, Charles withdrew his war commitment leaving Henry alone against the French.
1544 (13th September)
The English army took Boulogne.
1544 (18th September)
Charles and Francis made peace which left Henry isolated and without an ally.
1544 (30th September)
Henry returned to England triumphant.
1544 (Autumn)
The French campaign had given Henry renewed energy and he spent much of the season hunting.
1544 (October)
Thomas Seymour completed his spell as ambassador to the Netherlands. Wanting to keep him as far away from Katherine as possible Henry appointed him Lord High Admiral.
1545 (3rd January)
Francis announced that he would invade in the Summer and re-take Boulogne.
1545 (12th January)
Instructions were issued to re-establish the beacon warning system. Beacons had been used for centuries as a way of warning of impending danger or invasion. The beacons were to be placed at three-mile intervals along the coast and comprised a barrel of pitch and tar with flax taper.
1545 (25th January)
The Warden of the Eastern Marches, Sir William Evers, led a raid into Teviotdale.
1545 (27th February)
A Scottish army defeated the English led by William Evers at Ancrum Moor near Jedburgh. Evers was killed and many English were taken prisoner.
1545 (March)
Henry was taken ill with a fever. He was also in considerable pain from his leg. His mood, which was always bad when he was in pain, was worsened by reports that heresy and Lutherism were spreading throughout the country.
1545 (March)
An order was issued calling for the persecution of heretics to be increased. Twenty-three people were arrested including Anne Askew, a twenty-three year old Protestant.
1545 (May)
The long-serving Spanish ambassador, Eustache Chapuys, whose health had worsened, returned to Spain.
1545 (May)
There was a shortage of food due to two bad harvests and the price of wheat had risen leaving people facing hardship and also hoping that the year’s harvest would be much better.
1545 (June)
Francis put a number of plans in place to weaken the English:
He sent reinforcements to Scotland to help them fight of any English attack.
He continued to remain at peace with Charles to prevent him forming and alliance with England.
He placed the English town of Boulogne under siege using an army of 50,000 men
He assembled a fleet of 200 ships in the Channel ready to attack England.
1545 (late June)
The English managed to get a supply of provisions into the besieged town of Boulogne.
1545 (late June)
An English fleet commanded by John Dudley, Viscount Lisle, was sent to meet the French fleet. It was approaching the river Seine when it was met by a superior French force and forced to retreat.
1545 (15th July)
Henry and the Privy Council travelled to Portsmouth to take full control of and any anti-invasion force necessary.
1545 (16th July)
The French fleet, commanded by Admiral Claude d’Annebault, left France and sailed towards Portsmouth.
1545 (18th July)
Henry and the new Spanish ambassador dined aboard the Great Harry. During the evening the French fleet appeared off the Isle of Wight and dropped anchor just outside Bembridge and Ryde.
1545 (19th July)
Battle of the Solent, Mary Rose Disaster
An English fleet which included Henry’s two great ships, the Great Harry and the Mary Rose – left Portsmouth to meet the French. George Carew was in command of the Mary Rose. The King and the court had assembled to watch the ships leave the harbour. The Mary Rose made a sharp turn and in full view of the royal party turned on its side and sank. Only 35 men survived the disaster. Meanwhile, the English ships were able to beat the French back.
1545 (19th – 22nd July)
Having failed to take the Solent and Portsmouth, the French invaded the Isle of Wight. They managed to take some areas but were beaten back in Sandown. The French abandoned the invasion on 21st July.
1545 (25th July)
The French fleet appeared off the coast of Seaford in Sussex and raided and burnt the town. The beacons were lit and Englishmen quickly mobilised and beat the French back.
1545 (28th July)
The French force left English waters.
1545 (August)
Chancellor Wriothesley informed the Council that the invasion of France had cost £1.3 million. He stated that since only £300,000 had been raised by taxation then royal land and plate would have to be sold to meet costs.
1545 (1st August)
Henry left Portsmouth to avoid an outbreak of the plague.
1545 (3rd August)
A group of Italians were contracted to raise the Mary Rose but were unable to raise the ship.
1545 (15th August)
Battle of Shoreham Bay
An inconclusive battle was fought off the coast of Shoreham in Sussex.
1545 (22nd August)
Henry’s friend, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, died.
1545 (September)
Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, invaded Scotland and successfully destroyed the Scottish abbeys of Kelso, Melrose, Dryburgh, Roxburgh and Coldingham.
1545 (Autumn)
Henry decided to create a new park near Whitehall. The park was to be stocked with hares, partridges, pheasants and herons so that Henry could hunt.
1545 (Autumn)
People were facing real hardship due to the lack of food. Most of the people also felt it was unreasonable for the King to continue an expensive war for the sake of Boulogne when his people were facing starvation.
1545 (Autumn)
Peace talks with France broke down when Henry refused to agree to the two main terms of Francis II, namely the return of Boulogne to France and allowing Scotland to be a part of the treaty.
1545 (October)
Henry proposed an alliance with Charles V to be sealed with the marriage of Charles to Lady Mary and his son Phillip to Lady Mary. However, Charles replied that he could not consider marriages to women who were declared illegitimate.
1545 (late Autumn)
Henry was taken ill.
1545 (November)
Henry continued to refuse to come to terms with France and the Council were worried about the extent of ill-feeling towards the Crown. In order to meet costs the coinage had to be further debased. It now only contained one third silver.
1545 (6th November)
With Henry’s full approval, Katherine published a collection of prayers and meditations.
1545 (December)
The Conservative Catholic faction headed by Gardiner and Wriothesley attempted to effect the downfall of Henry’s sixth wife. They used as evidence the fact that she was surrounded by known Protestants – the Seymours, Lady Hertford, the Duchess of Suffolk and Lady Dudley.
1545 (24th December)
Henry continued to be in poor health suffering a lot of pain in his leg. Katherine spent much time discussing religion with him in an attempt to take his mind off the pain. She probably also secretly hoped to convert him to Protestantism
1546 (during)
King Henry VIII’s college at Oxford, formerly Cardinal College, was renamed Christ Church College.
1546 (7th January)
Battle of St Etienne
This battle was fought in France between 4,000 French and 2,000 English soldiers. The French were victorious killing around 220 English soldiers including the English second-in-command Edward Poynings.
1546 (February)
Henry was told that the heretic Anne Askew had mentioned the Queen’s name during questioning. Although it was disproved Katherine was on her guard.
1546 (March)
Henry was taken ill with a fever but recovered fairly quickly.
1546 (24th April)
Fresh peace talks with France began at Calais.
1546 (24th May)
Peace terms were agreed with France. It was agreed that Francis would pay his arrears to England and if, by Michaelmas 1554, 2 million crowns had been repaid then Boulogne would be returned to France. If the money had not been paid in full then Boulogne would be declared English. It was also agreed that England would not declare war on Scotland, France’s ally, unless provoked by the Scots.
1546 (early June)
The Protestant, Anne Askew, was tortured by Wriothesley. He hoped that she would further implicate the Queen. Despite the fact that both her legs were broken by the rack she refused to incriminate the Queen or recant her Protestant faith.
1546 (13th June)
Following the successful conclusion of the peace treaty with France, peace was proclaimed in London.
1546 (16th July)
Anne Askew was burnt at the stake. Due to her injuries she had to be carried to the stake. A bag of gunpowder, which had been given to the executioner by a sympathiser, was hung around her neck. The gunpowder exploded soon after the fire was lit.
1546 (August)
Although Henry was still in poor health he and the Queen made a small progress around London. Henry was becoming concerned that Katherine had shown no signs of pregnancy and began to wonder if it was God’s way of condemning her for spending too much time discussing religion. Gardiner played on Henry’s thoughts and asked him if the Queen should really be arguing with the Head of the Church in England on matters of religion. He persuaded Henry to allow him to draw up articles against the Queen.
1546 (mid August)

Katherine’s ladies-in-waiting were closely questioned regarding books they and the Queen possessed. A warrant was drawn up for the Queen’s arrest and signed by the King. However, it was dropped and found by a member of Katherine’s household. Katherine, concerned for her fate, became very upset. When Henry heard her cries and visited her to find out what was wrong. She told him that she was worried that she may have displeased him in some way. Henry was touched by her words and stayed with her awhile. He also remembered how she was the most gentle and adept at changing his leg dressings.

After the King left Katherine ordered all forbidden books to be removed from her apartments. When she was next with the King she made a point of explaining to him that she only discussed religion with him to help him forget the pain in his leg. When Wriothesley arrived to arrest Katherine, Henry dismissed him saying he was a fool.

1546 (19th September)
Henry was taken ill again. His leg was now so bad that he was unable to climb stairs. A mechanical hoist was installed to take the King to the higher levels of his palaces.
1546 (November)
The King’s health continued to deteriorate and he was now unable to walk and had to be carried everywhere.
1546 (December)
The radical reforming faction launched an attack on the Conservatives. The Duke of Norfolk’s son, the Earl of Surrey, was accused of indulging in vices, failing to observe Lent and stating that if the King were to die then his father could be King. He was also implicated in a plot to remove the Queen and replace her with the Duchess of Richmond.
1546 (December)
The King had to cancel several meetings due to ill health.
1546 (12th December)
The Duke of Norfolk and the Earl of Surrey were arrested and sent to the Tower.
1546 (24th December)
The Court was closed to all except the Privy Council. Both Katherine and Lady Mary were present. Henry was feverish and suffering agonising pains in his legs.
1546 (30th December)
Henry dictated his will.
1547 (3rd January)
Henry was taken to his Palace at Whitehall in a wheeled chair.
1547 (7th January)
Both Norfolk and Surrey were charged with treason for displaying royal arms.
1547 (12th January)
The Duke of Norfolk pleaded guilty to displaying the arms of Edward the Confessor in his own coat of arms. He also revealed that his son was guilty of the same offence.
1547 (19th January)
The Earl of Surrey, Henry Howard, was beheaded on Tower Hill. His father’s execution was scheduled for the following week, 28th January.
1547 (23rd January)
Henry revealed the names of those that he had chosen to form a Regency Council after his death. Top of the list was Edward Seymour who was to be Lord Protector for Edward.
1547 (26th January)
Henry was now on his deathbed and summoned Katherine to say goodbye.
1547 (27th January)
Henry summoned his confessor and took Holy Communion. He also saw Lady Mary and asked her to look out for her younger brother, Edward.
1547 (28th January)
Henry VIII, aged 55 years, died at 2am at Whitehall Palace.
1547 (28th January)
As was the custom when a monarch died, all those imprisoned in the Tower of London were pardoned. This included the Duke of Norfolk who had been scheduled to be executed later that day.
1547 (28th January)
Edward Seymour wasted no time in securing for himself the title “Protector of all the realms and dominions of the King’s Majesty”. He also rode to collect Edward and brought him to London where he was proclaimed King Edward VI.
1547 (28th January)
Edward Seymour declared himself ‘Protector of all the Realm and Dominions of the King’s Majesty’.
1547 (30th January)
Edward Seymour rode to Hertford where he collected the young King Edward and took him to his half-sister Elizabeth’s residence at Hatfield. There he told the two children of their father’s death.
1547 (31st January)
Chancellor Thomas Wriothesley announced the death of Henry VIII in parliament and ordered proclamations that Edward was now King Edward VI. He was placed under the control of Edward Seymour and was prevented from seeing his stepmother or step-sisters.
1547 (after January)
Barnaby Fitzpatrick was appointed to be Edward’s whipping boy. Because courtiers could not punish their King, if young Edward was naughty Barnaby would be punished instead.
1547 (1st February)
The leading nobles swore allegiance to Edward at the Tower of London.
1547 (16th February)
The body of King Henry VIII was laid to rest next to that of Jane Seymour in St George’s Chapel, Windsor.
1547 (20th February)
Edward was crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey. After the ceremony a banquet was held in Westminster Hall.
1547 (16th February)
Edward Seymour became the Duke of Somerset. His brother, Thomas Seymour became Baron Seymour of Sudeley Castle and was created Lord High Admiral.
1547 (March)
Edward signed a document giving Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, the power to appoint members of the Privy Council and to consult with them at his own choosing. This effectively gave him full control of the country. This move was only opposed by Thomas Seymour and Thomas Wriothesley.
1547 (April)
Edward’s stepmother, Katherine Parr, secretly married Edward’s uncle, Thomas Seymour. Although Katherine was in love with Seymour it is likely that he married for power rather than love.
1547 (10th September)
English forces led by the Duke of Somerset defeated the Scots at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh. Somerset hoped to persuade the Scots to make alliance with England and allow the marriage of Edward to Mary Queen of Scots to go ahead.
1548 (Summer)
Katherine Parr discovered her husband, Thomas Seymour, with Edward’s half-sister, Lady Elizabeth. Elizabeth was sent to live with Sir Anthony Denny.
1548 (August)
Mary Queen of Scots had been smuggled out of Scotland to France where she married the Dauphin, Francis.
1548 (7th September)
Katherine Parr died of puerperal fever after giving birth to a daughter, Katherine.
1548 (late)
Thomas Seymour began writing letters to Lady Elizabeth. It is likely that he hoped to marry her.
1549 (January)
Thomas Seymour was arrested and charged with embezzlement of crown funds. He was found guilty.
1549 (21st January)
Act of Uniformity
With Edward’s full approval, Edward Seymour introduced the Protestant Book of Common Prayer and outlawed many Roman Catholic practices. The clergy were given permission to marry.
1549 (20th March)
Thomas Seymour was executed by beheading.
1549 (April)
A number of revolts against the Book of Common Prayer broke out. The most serious rebellions were in Devon and Cornwall.
1549 (Spring)
There were revolts against changes that were made to common grazing ground.
1549 (July)
Members of the Privy Council began to complain to Somerset about his government of the country, blaming the rioting on his proclamations.
1549 (August)
Henry II of France realised that England was weak and lay siege to Boulogne.
1549 (early October)
Edward Seymour realised his position was in danger and took himself and King Edward to Windsor Castle.
1549 (11th October)
Edward Seymour, Lord Somerset, was arrested by the Council.


Published Jun 25, 2018 @ 11:21 am – Updated – [last-modified]

Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2018). English History 1540 – 1549. https://www.thetimelinegeek.com/english-history-1540-1549. Last accessed [date]

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