Timetable of Legal History logo

Edward VI reigned from 1547 to his death in 1553. He was Britain's first Protestant king. But he was only nine when crowned and he died before he could receive any powers from his regents.

Under the firm hand of Thomas Cramer, the royal seal went onto a series of measures designed to rid the country of Roman Catholicism, to the chagrin of much of the population.

Cramer's quaintest statute was his 1548 statute which he had passed though Edward would of been all of 11.

The preamble speaks for itself:

ALBEIT the Kings Subjects now having a more pfytt and clear light of the Gospel and true word of God, through the infinite clemency and mercy of Almighty God by the hands of the King's Majesty and his most noble father of famous memory pmulgate, shewed, declared and oponed and thereby perceiving that one day or one kind of meat of itself is not more holy more pure or more clean then another, for that all days and all meats be of their nature of one equal purity cleans and holyness, and that all men should by them live to the glory of God and at all times and for all meats give thanks unto Him, of which meats none can defile Christian men or make them unclean at any time, to whom all meats be lawful and pure, so that they be not used in disobedience or vice;

"Yet forasmuch as divers of the Kings' Subjects turning their knowledge therein to satisfy their sensuality where they should thereby increase in virtue, have of late time more then in times past, broken and condemned such abstinence which hath been used in this Realm upon the Fridays and Saturdays, the Ember days and other days commonly called Vigille, and in the time commonly called Lent, and other accustomed times:

"The King Majesty considering that due and godly abstinence as a means to virtue and to subdue mens' bodies to their Soul and Spirit thereof; and considering also specially that Fishers and men using the trade of living by fishing in the Sea, may thereby the rather be set or work, and that by eating of Fish, much Flesh shall be saved and increased, and also for divers other considerations and commodities of this Realm, doth ordain and enact with the assent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal & Commons in this Present Parliament assembled and by the authority of the same, that all manner of statute, law, constitutions and usages concerning any manner of fasting or abstinence from any kind of Meat heretofore in this Realm made or used, shall from the first day of May next ensuing, lose their force and strength and be void and of none effect.

"And also that no person or persons of what Estate, degree or condition he or she be shall at any time after the said first day of May in the year of our Lord God a Thousand Five Hundred Forty and Nine, willingly and wittingly eat any manner of Flesh after what manner of kind or sort, it shall be ordered, dressed or used, upon any Friday or Saturday, or the Ember days, or in any day in the time commonly called Lent, nor at any such other day as is or shall be at any time hereafter commonly accepted and reputed as a Fish day within this Realm of England, wherein it hath been commonly used for to eat Fish and not Flesh; upon pain that every person eating any manner of Flesh upon any of the said days or times prohibited by this Act, to forfeit for the same first offence ten shillings of lawful money of England, and also to suffer imprisonment by the space of ten days, and during the time of his or her said imprisonment, to abstain from eating of any manner of Flesh."

REFERENCES:

Editor's note: Some original spellings have been changed to modern English for the sake of readability. For example, clere is clear, worde is word, clemencye is clemency and so on and so forth. Any words for which arose any uncertainty were left as is (e.g. "oponed" and "pmulgate").