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HENRY the eighth was fucceeded on the
throne by his only fon Edward the fixth, now in the ninth year of his age. The late king in his will, which he expected would be abfolutely obeyed, fixed the majority of the prince at the completion of his eighteenth year; and in the mean time appointed fixteen executors of his will, to whom, during the miniority, he VOL. III. entrusted
entrufted the government of the king and kingdom. But the vanity of his aims was foon difcovered; for the first act of the executors was to chufe the earl of Hertford, who was afterwards made duke of Somerset, as protector of the realm, and in him was lodged all the regal power, together with a privilege of naming whom he would for his privy council.
This was a favourable feafon for those of the reformed religion; and the eyes of the late king were no fooner closed, than all of that perfuafion' congratulated themselves on the event. They no longer fuppreffed their fentiments, but maintained their doctrines openly, in preaching and teaching, even while the laws against them continued in full force. The protector had long been regarded as the fecret partizan of the reformers; and, being now freed from restraint, he fcrupled not to express his intention of correcting all the abuses of the ancient religion, and of adopting ftill more the doctrines propagated by Luther. His power was not a little ftrengthened by his fuccefs against an incurfion of the Scotch, in which about eight hundred of their army were flain; and the popularity which he gained upon this occafion, feconded his views in the further pro
pagation of the new doctrines. But the character of Somerset did not ftand in need of the mean fupports of popularity acquired in this manner, as he was naturally humble, civil, affable, and courteous to the meanest fuitor, while all his actions were directed by motives of piety and honour.
The protector, in his schemes for advancing the reformation, had always recourse to the counfels of Cranmer, who, being a man of moderation and prudence, was averfe to violent changes, and determined to bring over the people by infenfible innovations to his own peculiar fyftem. The perfon who opposed with the greatest authority any farther advances towards reformation, was Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, who, though he had not obtained a place at the council-board, yet from his age, experience, and capacity, was regarded by most men with fome degree of veneration. Upon a general vifitation of the church, which had been commanded by the primate and protector, Gardiner defended the ufe of images, which was now very openly attacked by the proteftants; he even wrote an apology for holy water; but he particu larly alleged, that it was unlawful to make any change in religion during the king's minority.
nority. This oppofition of Gardiner drew on him the indignation of the council; and he was fent to the Fleet prifon, where he was ufed with much harfhnefs and feverity.
These internal regulations were in fome measure retarded by the war with Scotland, which still continued to rage with fome violence. But a defeat, which that nation fuffered at Muffelborough, in which above ten thousand perished in the field of battle, induced them to fue for peace, in order to gain time; and the protector returned to fettle the business of the reformation, which was as yet only be. gun. But, though he acquired great popularity by this expedition, he did not fail to attract the envy of several noblemen, by procuring a patent from the young king his nephew, to fit in parliament on the right hand of the throne, and to enjoy the fame honours and privileges which had usually been granted the uncles of kings in England. However, he ftill drove on his favourite fchemes of reformation, and gave more confiftency to the tenets of the church. The cup was restored to the laity in the sacrament of the Lord's supper; private maffes were abolished; the king was empowered to create bishops by letters patent. Vagabonds were adjudged to be flaves for