Arthur, Prince of Wales
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|Prince of Wales|
|Spouse||Catherine of Aragon|
|House||House of Tudor|
|Mother||Elizabeth of York|
20 September 1486|
|Died||2 April 1502
Ludlow Castle, England
Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales (19/20 September 1486 – 2 April 1502) was the first son of King Henry VII of England and Elizabeth of York. He died before his father. When Henry VII died, Arthur's younger brother, Henry, became king as King Henry VIII.
Early life 
Arthur's parents Elizabeth of York and Henry VII married on 18 January 1486. In order to strengthen his claim to the English throne, Henry set his personal genealogists to trace back his heritage to Cadwaladr and ancient British kings. The royal historians proclaimed that Henry was related to King Arthur, identifying Winchester in Hampshire as Camelot. Henry insisted that Elizabeth, now pregnant, would give birth to a son who would bring a golden age back into England, and Henry would name the boy Arthur in honour of his 'ancestor'.
Moving the court 
Henry moved the court to Winchester for the birth of his child, no doubt taking a huge gamble that the baby was in fact a boy. It was there that the first Tudor Prince of Wales, Arthur, was born. His christening took place at Winchester Cathedral, delayed by a week waiting for one godfather, John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford who was four hours late on the day. Arthur's other godfathers were Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby and Lord Maltravers, his aunt Cecily of York carried him into the church. Elizabeth Woodville, his maternal grandmother, was his godmother and carried him during the ceremony.
It is not known if Arthur was a robust child when born. Francis Bacon wrote that Arthur was premature, born in the eighth month, "partus octomenstris, as the physicians do prejudge, yet strong and able." Some[who?] historians suggest that his death resulted from a lifelong weakness, but others disagree. Philipa Jones has pointed out that there was never any discussion of Arthur being ill or weak during his lifetime. She argues that Arthur was betrothed to Catherine of Aragon from the age of two: if he had been weak and sickly it would have been reported to Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, Catherine's parents.
|House of Tudor|
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|Arthur, Prince of Wales|
|Margaret, Queen of Scots|
|Mary, Queen of France|
Betrothal and alliance 
Eager to strengthen his kingdom against France and its potential support of pretenders to his throne, Henry VII sought the support of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon. When Arthur was two years old, a marriage with their youngest daughter, Catherine of Aragon was arranged for him as part of the Treaty of Medina del Campo. Isabella and Ferdinand were in no hurry to have their daughter married, and, although the treaty had been made, they were open to other options. Ferdinand was especially aware that Tudor rule was threatened by various pretenders, most notably Perkin Warbeck, and sent Pedro de Ayala as ambassador in Scotland, where Warbeck had found support. After Warbeck had been hanged and the Earl of Warwick, another potential threat, beheaded in 1499, the rule of Henry VII stabilised.
In 1489, just after Arthur had turned three, his father decided it was time for Arthur to be made a Knight of the Garter and created Prince of Wales. Arthur was brought to Westminster in November 1489; it was hoped that the ceremony would coincide with the birth of the next royal child. His mother Elizabeth of York went into labour during the ceremonies and gave birth to a daughter, Margaret Tudor, on St Andrew's Day. The following day, he was formally created Prince of Wales in the Parliament Chamber.
As heir apparent, Arthur was carefully educated. His tutors were John Rede and the blind poet Bernard André (who, in his unfinished biography of Henry VII, stated that Arthur was familiar with all the best Latin and Greek authors). Arthur was known to be studious, thoughtful and reserved. When Arthur was 14 or 15 years old, Thomas Linacre (or Lynaker) began to teach him. The Prince's governor and treasurer was Sir Henry Vernon, and Arthur may have visited Sir Henry's residence, Haddon Hall, in Derbyshire, where an apartment, called "The Prince's Chamber", is adorned with Arthur's coat of arms.
In 1492 at the age of 6, Arthur was sent to live at Ludlow Castle in the Welsh marches to begin his training for kingship. This model of residing at Ludlow was copied by Henry VII from the model set by his predecessor/father in law, Edward IV of England. He used it for the education of his son, Edward V of England. Arthur was served by sons of prominent members of English, Welsh and Irish society, such as Gearoid Óg FitzGerald, 9th Earl of Kildare the son of Gerald Fitzgerald, 8th Earl of Kildare who was brought to the English court over his father's role in assisting and crowning of Lambert Simnel in Ireland in Henry VII's early reign. The Fitzgeralds of Kildare at this time more or less ruled Ireland, Anthony Willoughby a son of Robert Willoughby, 1st Baron Willoughby de Broke, Robert Radcliffe, 1st Earl of Sussex, the heir of Lord Fitzwalter, Maurice St John (a favourite nephew of Arthur's grandmother Lady Margaret Beaufort), and Gruffydd ap Rhys the son of Thomas ap Rhys (a powerful Welsh nobleman). Arthur seems to have developed a close friendship with Gruffydd, and when Gruffydd himself died in 1521 prematurely his tomb was placed in Worcester Cathedral where Arthur himself rests.
For two years, Arthur wrote numerous letters in Latin to his bride-to-be, and she would formally reply. However, as the young couple had never met, the letters were written as instructed by their tutors and were more polite than passionate. When Arthur was 14, the King and Queen of Castile and Aragon promised to send their daughter Catherine to England, but it was not until after Arthur turned 15 that Catherine and her retinue finally started their journey. The Spanish Infanta finally landed in the autumn, and on 4 November 1501, the couple met at last at Dogmersfield in Hampshire.
Little is known about their first impressions of each other, but Arthur did write to his parents-in-law that he would be "a true and loving husband" and he later told his parents that he was immensely happy to behold the face of his lovely bride. Ten days later, on 14 November 1501, they were married at Old St Paul's Cathedral. At the end of the festive day came the bedding ceremony, in which most of the court put the young couple to bed.
Death and Funeral 
The couple soon travelled to Ludlow Castle on the Welsh border, where Arthur resided in his capacity as Prince of Wales and President of The Council of Wales and Marches. He died suddenly on 2 April 1502, at the early age of 15. The cause of his death is unknown but may have been consumption, diabetes, or the mysterious sweating sickness, which some modern theorists tie to a hantavirus. Catherine also fell ill, but survived.
Arthur was buried in Worcester Cathedral where his monument within "Prince Arthur's Chantry" chapel still stands today. Sir Griffith Ryce, a member of Arthur's household, was an official mourner, and his tomb is located near Arthur's. The body was first taken from Ludlow Castle to the Parish Church of Ludlow on St George's Day, then on St Mark's Day, in poor weather the procession set out to Bewdley, accompanied by Sir William Uvedale and Sir Richard Croft, where another funeral dirge was sung in the Parish Church. (From Bewdley the body was taken to Worcester by boat on the Severn.)
At the end of the ceremony at Worcester Uvedale and Croft and Arthur's household ushers broke their staffs of office and threw them into the grave. Arthur's father, the King, did not attend the funeral. The reasons for his absence are unknown, though many conjecture that the journey was too long or that Henry VII was too distressed. Arthur's mother, Elizabeth of York did not attend the funeral either, and as was the custom, Catherine of Aragon also remained at home as she was still extremely ill with the same disease that had killed Arthur.
Arthur's widow as Henry's wife 
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Arthur's younger brother, Henry, Duke of York, was not created Prince of Wales until it was certain Catherine was not carrying Arthur's child. Henry VII then applied for a Papal dispensation for Catherine to marry Henry in June 1503, as a continuation of the peace treaty between Spain and England. Marriages to brother's widows were forbidden without such dispensations. The application for the dispensation narrated that the marriage of Arthur and Catherine had been solemnized and consummated. Queen Isabella's agent in Rome was instructed to tell Pope Pius III that the marriage in reality had not been consummated, but the dispensation had to be worded to eliminate any future doubts. Isabella anticipated that questions about Catherine's marriages might affect the succession to the English throne. The new Pope, Julius II authorized a marriage between Catherine and Henry on 26 December 1503, recognizing that the marriage between Arthur and Catherine may have been consummated. Catherine lived in relative obscurity at Richmond Palace until she married Henry two days before their coronation in 1509.
Two decades later Henry tried to get a divorce from Catherine or an annulment of their marriage. Henry wanted was a son, since he had historical reasons to believe that England would not accept a female monarch. During their marriage Catherine had given birth to several living children, but only Mary survived infancy. Henry realised with the passing years that the aging Catherine was unlikely to produce a son and heir, and he was having affairs with sisters Mary Boleyn and Anne Boleyn. His annulment from Catherine and his marriage to Anne were predicated on his claim that he and Catherine had produced no living son because he had disobeyed a Scriptural injunction and married his brother's widow. During the annulment hearing, Henry VIII cited Leviticus 20:21, which states that it is unclean for a man to take his brother's wife and that, if a man did, the union would be childless. Cardinal Wolsey advised against this stategy.. Henry was not childless. He had a daughter. He had merely failed to produce a legitimate male child who was able to survive to adulthood. Henry also produced bloodstained bedsheets, supposedly from his brother's marriage night as proof of the consummation. How or why these sheets should have been preserved for so many years, and how their authenticity could have been proved, was not explained.
Catherine insisted both that her marriage had not been consummated and the Papal dispensation for marriage to Henry was valid. In October 1529 Pope Clement VII wrote to Henry VIII that the dispensation was not a case of "divine law", and also had been certainly sound if the marriage was unconsummated, and was a matter of jurisprudential conscience, "in foro conscientiae". Controversy focused on the question of whether or not Arthur and Catherine consummated their brief marriage , and continues, because the subsequent history of England and British Christianity was strongly influenced by the issue of Henry's break with the Roman Catholic church. Modern readers may think it likely that a teenaged couple sharing a bed and legally married to each other would also engage in sexual intercourse, particularly since Catherine and Arthur understood the production of heirs as a pressing and essential duty. Further, as noted above, there was a delay in proclaiming Henry, then Duke of York, as Prince of Wales until it was certain that Catherine was not pregnant with Arthur's child. If, as Catherine later claimed, her marriage to Arthur was never consummated, she could have said so then, and eliminated any delay.
Arthur's courtiers would claim in 1531 that before his wedding night, he stated that he was feeling very 'lusty and amorous', and Anthony Willoughby, one of his attendants, claimed that on the following morning he had called for a cup of ale, saying "for I have been this night in the midst of Spain". Later the Prince also said, "Masters, it is a good pastime to have a wife." Nevertheless, Arthur's ribaldry could have been bluster to cover up a failure to consummate the marriage because of physical incapacity or perhaps a lack of knowledge on what to do. In April 1533 Henry told the Spanish ambassador in England Eustace Chapuys that when he had previously said that Catherine was a virgin at their marriage it was merely a jest or boast.
Catherine claimed that she and Arthur had shared a bed for only a few days and consummation had not taken place. Catherine's dueña Doña Elvira Manuel said that the marriage was not consummated, though some historians argue that Doña Elvira was never close to Catherine, whom she would later betray. Some historians doubt that Catherine, who insisted that her marriage to Arthur had never been consummated, would lie. Others point to Catherine's difficult situation after Arthur's death and argue that she was lying in order to protect her marriage to Henry and the rights of her daughter, Mary. To agree to the annulment of her marriage with Henry would have been an admission of fornication as well as a condemnation of Princess Mary to illegitimacy.
However, Eustace Chapuys was forced to conclude in July 1531 that the point was doubtful and not provable except by the sworn oath of Catherine herself, which could not be used in her legal suit. By 1533 Catherine and her lawyers had argued and the Papal Consistory agreed that Pope in 1503 had been able to grant a valid dispensation, as the situation was not a case in divine law, not "de jure divino". Whether or not the marriage had been consummated, Catherine's side argued, Julius II had issued a valid dispensation, motivated by the need to preserve the Anglo-Spanish peace treaty, a dispensation made with a just cause for international peace, "pro pace conservanda".
This dispute, and Henry's inability to obtain papal dissolution of his marriage, would come to be a major cause of the English Reformation. Whatever the truth of the matter, whether Henry had found Catherine to be a virgin on their wedding night will never be known.
Arthur in fiction 
Arthur has appeared in several novels about Catherine of Aragon. Norah Lofts wrote The King's Pleasure in the late 1960s. Katharine, The Virgin Widow by Jean Plaidy has Arthur in it as well. The Constant Princess, by Philippa Gregory, tells the story of how Catherine and Arthur fell in love, consummated their marriage, and how he suddenly died. In it, Catherine promises Arthur she will become Queen of England by marrying his brother in order to fulfill their vision for the future of the kingdom.
Kingsley Amis wrote "The Alteration" (1976), an alternative history novel about the effects of a contested "War of the English Succession" (c 1509), where the birth and reign of Prince Arthur Tudor and Katherine of Aragon's son, "Stephen II", leads Henry VIII to attempt to usurp his nephew's throne.
|Ancestors of Arthur, Prince of Wales|
- The Antiquarian Repertory, vol.4 (1784), pp.193-7
- Bacon, Francis (1824). The Works of Francis Bacon – Volume 5. Baynes and Son.
- Fuller, Thomas (1840). The history of the worthies of England, Volume 2. Nuttall and Hodgson. p. 6.
- Philip Mould (1995) devotes a chapter to the rediscovery and validation of this portrait.
- Leland, John, Collectanea, vol.4 (1774), pp.250-3
- Starkey, David., Henry: virtuous prince (London, 2009). Pg. 57
- Bennett, Michael., Lambert Simnel and the battle of Stoke (Stroud, 1987)
- Gunn, Steven., Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales (Woodbridge, 2009)
- 30 November 1501 letter from Arthur to his parents-in-law
- M Taviner, G Thwaites, and V Gant, The English sweating sickness, 1485–1551: a viral pulmonary disease?, Medical History, 1998 January; 42(1): 96–98.
- Hearne, Thomas, ed., John Leland: Collectanea, vol.5 (1774), pp.373-381
- Hearne, Thomas, ed., John Leland: Collectanea, vol.5 (1774), p.381
- Calendar State Papers Spain, vol.1 (1862), nos. 364, 370, 389
- Letters & Papers Henry VIII, vol.4 (1875), no.5994
- David Starkey: Six Wives, Harper Collins, 2003, p. 63
- Letters & Papers Henry VIII, vol.6 (1882), no.351
- Letters & Papers Henry VIII, vol.5 (1880), nos.112, 340
- Letters & Papers Henry VIII, vol.6 (1882), no.808
Additional reading 
Primary sources 
- The Antiquarian Repertory, vol.4 (1784), pp.193-7, Arthur's baptism at Winchester
- Hearne, Thomas, ed., Hearne, Thomas ed., John Leland's De rebus Britannicis collectanea, vol. 4 (1774), pp.204-207, Baptism at Winchester, pp.250-254, Creation as Prince of Wales.
- Hearne, Thomas ed., John Leland's De rebus Britannicis collectanea, vol. 5 (1774) pp. 356–381, festivities at Catherine's arrival in England; the funeral of Arthur.
- Yorke, Philip, ed., Miscellaneous State Papers, vol.1 (1778) pp. 1–20, instructions for the royal wedding.
Secondary writings 
- "Royal Tutors in the Reign of Henry VII", David Carlson, Sixteenth Century Journal Vol. 22, No. 2 (Summer, 1991), pp. 253–279
- Fraser, Antonia, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, ISBN 0-7493-1409-5
- Steven Gunn and Linda Monckton, ed, Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales, Boydell 2009 ISBN 978-1-84383-480-9
- Jones, Philippa (2009) "The other Tudors"
- Mould, Philip, (1995) Sleepers. London: Fourth Estate. ISBN 1-85702-218-1 (paperback edition retitled The Trail of Lot 163 (1997) ISBN 1-85702-523-7)
- Perry, Maria King Henry's sisters
- Starkey, David (2009) Henry
- Weir, Alison, The Six Wives of Henry VIII
- Weir, Alison, The Princes in the Tower
- "Intimate Strangers," a popular account of the hantavirus theory, and one which assumes Arthur was indeed a victim of the sickness.
- Portraits of Arthur, Prince of Wales at the National Portrait Gallery, London
Arthur, Prince of WalesBorn: 19 September 1486 Died: 2 April 1502
|Peerage of England|
Title last held byEdward of Middleham
|Duke of Cornwall
|Prince of Wales
Title next held byHenry