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The Tudor Tournament

Edward VI vs. John Morton AND Jane Seymour vs. Thomas More

Anne Askew outlasted Hugh Latimer in yesterday’s poll, and Margaret Beaufort achievied a decisive victory over her great-granddaughter, Mary I. Today’s contestants are no less formidable – King and Queen (and mother and son) take on Cardinal and Lord Chancellor (and mentor and mentee).

King vs. Cardinal: Edward VI vs. John Morton

Edward VI

Edward VI, By the Grace of God, King of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, and of the Church of England and of Ireland in Earth Supreme Head

Date: October 12, 1537 – July 6, 1553

Strengths: As the only legitimate male heir of Henry VIII, Edward took precedence over his two older sisters at the time of his father’s death. He received an excellent Renaissance education, with lessons in languages, liberal sciences, religion, and philosophy.

Weaknesses: Because of his young age at the time of his accession, Edward operated under a Council of Regency. How much actual authority he exercised, even as he grew older, is up for debate. Social and religious unrest also plagued Edward’s reign. After falling severely ill in January 1553, Edward died later that summer.

Manner of death: Illness at the age of 15

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John Morton

John Morton, Bishop of Ely, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Cardinal

Date: 1420 – September 15, 1500

Strengths: Morton initially found himself on the wrong side of the Yorkists (and found himself imprisoned after the battle at Towton), but he was able to gain a full pardon from Edward IV after switching his loyalties upon the death of the Prince of Wales. Not only did he rise at Edward IV’s court after that, he also rose in importance within the church.

After Richard III claimed the throne, Morton was once again imprisoned. He managed to escape, joined Henry Tudor in Flanders, and devoted his time to gaining support for Henry. For his efforts, Morton became the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1486.

Weaknesses: As noted above, Morton was imprisoned by the Yorkists and Richard III, but he was also successful at evading permanent captivity or death.

Manner of death: natural

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Queen vs. Lord Chancellor: Jane Seymour vs. Thomas More

Jane Seymour

Jane Seymour, Queen of England

Date: 1507(-09) – October 24, 1537

Strengths: Described as modest by some, Jane was careful in her behavior as a wife to Henry VIII. She avoided criticizing his decisions, and was careful in her steps to reconcile Henry to his daughter Mary. She also provided the King with a male heir, the future Edward VI.

Weaknesses: Some have described Jane as being nothing more than a pawn in the hands of the men in her life. Others allow her more agency, and view her as complicit in the downfall of Anne Boleyn. Unfortunately, the historic record provides us little information on these points.

Manner of death: natural, a result of a difficult labor

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Thomas More

Thomas More, Lord Chancellor to Henry VIII

Date: February 7, 1478 – July 6, 1535

Strengths: More held to his religious convictions – he neither supported Henry’s break with the Roman Catholic Church, nor approved of the King naming himself as the Supreme Head of the Church of England. He also abstained from taking the oath required by the 1533 Act of Succession. Today, he is still a celebrated social philosopher, and is noted for his work Utopia.

Weaknesses: For maintaining the above religious positions, More was eventually charged with treason and beheaded. Additionally, his belief that the Reformation was a heresy earned him a nasty reputation amongst Protestant circles, especially after the release of Foxe’s Acts and Monuments, in which Fox accused More of torturing religious prisoners.

Manner of death: Beheaded

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