Arthur TUDOR

Prince of Wales

Born: 20 Sep 1486, St. Swithin's Priory, Winchester, England

Acceded: 27 Feb 1490, Westminster Palace, London, England

Died: 2 Apr 1502, Ludlow Castle, Shropshire

Buried: Worcester Cathedral

Notes: Knight of the Garter.

Father: HENRY VII TUDOR (King of England)

Mother: Elizabeth PLANTAGENET (Queen of England)

Married: Catalina De ARAGON (See her Page) 14 Nov 1501, St.Paul's Cathedral, London, England


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Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales


Eldest son of Henry VII and his wife, Elizabeth of York, was born on 20 Sep 1486, and died on 2 Apr 1502. Henry, in arder to strengthen his claim to the throne, set the genealogists to work to trace his descent back to Cadwallader and the ancient British kings: he identified Winchester with Camelot, and therefore he sent his wife to Winchester to nave her baby and the boy was named Arthur after King Arthur of the Round Table, one example of Henry's consciousness of being welsh. He was christened in Winchester Cathedral, his godfathers being the Earl of Oxford, who arrived late for the ceremony, and the Earl of Derby. Elizabeth Woodville, Edward IV's widow, was the female sponsor, beholding in her little grandchild a bud from the peaceful grafting of the White Rose upon the Red.

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Prince Arthur

HenryVII(family).jpg (152235 bytes)

The family of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York
All seven of their children are shown, including the three that died very young:
Edmund, Elizabeth and Catherine
Royal Collection © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

When he was three, he was made Prince of Wales. When he was five, he was made a Knight of the Garter, having been made a Knight of the Bath at his christening. Henry saw to it that his son should have the best education which the revival of learning could provide. Arthur's first tutor was one John Rede, but later he was instructed by the blind poet laureate, Bernard André, who wrote an unfinished life of Henry VII, in which he asserted that by the age of fifteen Arthur was familiar with a11 the best Greek and Latin authors. Arthur was probably never a strong child and there is no evidence that he was ever an athlete like his younger brother, Henry, but it is possible that he may have shown some aptitude for archery. Sir Henry Vernon was governor and treasurer to Prince Arthur. There is a tradition that the Prince frequently lived with Sir Henry at his house, Haddon Hall, in the Peak of Derbyshire, where there was an apartment called the Prince's Chamber, with his arms cut in several places.

In 1488, when Arthur was only two years old, negotiations had begun for his marriage to Catalina de Aragon. Fernando de Aragon was clearly not going to commit himself until he saw whether the Tudor dynasty was going to be securely settled on the throne, therefore he held back for some years; but after the execution of Perkin Warbeck and the Earl of Warwick in 1499 he agreed to the marriage. For two years the Prince of Wales from Ludlow Castle was writing letters in formal Latin and still more formal terms at the age of fourteen to a girl two years older than himself whom he had never seco. The letters are characterized rather by politeness than by passion. At last, in 1500, the terms of the marriage were settled at a meeting outside Calais.

The marriage took place in Sr. Paul's Cathedral on 14 Nov 1501. Arthur and Catalina then went to Ludlow and ser up court there as Prince and Princess of Wales. They were thought, however, to be too young to cohabit. On 2 Apr 1502, Arthur suddenly died. This fact was to have momentous results, not only for Catalina but for England and the Papacy, when Henry VIII, having married Catalina, later sought to have the marriage annulled by the Pope.

Christopher Guy, Worcester Cathedral's archaeologist, said there were puzzling questions about Arthur's death and why a man reputed to be in poor health was sent to the remoteness of Ludlow, far from the London physicians. Peter Vaughan, of the Worcester Prince Arthur Committee, which researched the funeral for a re-enactment earlier in the month, believes there is evidence of foul play. He said: "He wasn't a strong character, unlike his younger brother. Could it be that his father was strong enough to see that the best interests of the Tudors were to be served by Henry Duke of York, rather than Arthur?"

However, historians such as Dr David Starkey and Dr Julian Litten have dismissed suggestions of neglect or murder. "There is nothing fishy about his demise", said Dr Litten. "He was in Ludlow as an Ambassador for a King setting up a new dynasty". Dr Litten believes the real mystery over Arthur's death was the nature of the disease, and whether it was a genetic condition that was also passed to Edward VI.

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