Edward Seymour, the son of Sir John Seymour, and the brother of Thomas Seymour, was born in 1500. After studying at Cambridge University, he saw military service in France in 1523. On his return he worked for Henry, Duke of Richmond, as Master of the Horse.
Seymour's political career improved when his sister, Jane Seymour, married Henry VIII in 1536. Seymour was given the title, the Earl of Hertford, in 1537. Seymour returned to military duty and in 1542 served with distinction in Scotland (1542) and in France (1545).
When Henry VIII died in 1547 Seymour was named as executor of the will. Edward was too young to rule and Seymour was appointed by the Council of Regency as Protector of the Realm. He was also given the title of Duke of Somerset. Once he gained power, Seymour resumed the war in Scotland and won an important victory at Pinkie on 10th September, 1547. However, establishing English garrisons was highly expensive.
The Duke of Somerset was a Protestant and he soon began to make changes to the Church of England. This included the introduction of an English Prayer Book and the decision to allow members of the clergy to get married. Attempts were made to destroy those aspects of religion that were associated with the Catholic church, for example, the removal of stained-glass windows in churches and the destruction of religious wall-paintings.
Seymour also showed concern for the poor and on 14 June 1549, he persuaded Edward VI to pardoned all those people who had torn down hedges enclosing common land. Many landless people thought that this meant that their king disapproved of enclosures. All over the country people began to destroy hedges that landowners had used to enclose common land.
This led to the Kett Rebellion in Norfolk. The mayor of Norwich refused to let Kett's army enter the city. However, Robert Kett and his men, armed with spears, swords and pitchforks, successfully stormed the city walls. The English government were shocked when they heard that Kett and his rebels controlled the second largest city in England.
Robert Kett formed a governing council made up of representatives from the villages that had joined the revolt. This council then sent details of their demands to Edward VI. Seymour responded by sending John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, and a large army to defeat Kett.
The Privy Council became concerned that Seymour's policies were leading to a popular uprising. In October, 1549, he was removed from power and imprisoned in the Tower of London.
Seymour was released in 1550 and allowed to return to the Privy Council. Seymour soon got involved in a conspiracy and he was once again arrested. Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, was found guilty of treason and executed on 22nd January, 1552.