On 20th September 1486, Arthur, Prince of Wales, was born at Winchester. He was the first child of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York.
Arthur’s mother, Elizabeth of York, became pregnant immediately after her married to Henry. However, Arthur was born a month premature but Sir Francis Bacon writes that he was still ‘strong and able’.
Four days after his birth, Arthur was baptised at Winchester Cathedral by the Bishop of Worcester, John Alcock. Arthur’s godparents included former Queen Elizabeth Woodville and Cecily of York.
Over the next thirteen years, Henry and Elizabeth had five more children. Out of the five, three survived. Those children were Margaret, Henry and Mary. Arthur was mainly close to Margaret and Henry, as he shared their nursery.
Arthur was arranged to marry Katherine of Aragon for some years. They exchanged love letters in Latin, their only common language, until he was fifteen years old. Then he was deemed old enough to marry and they met for the first time on 4th November 1501.
The marriage ceremony took place on 14th November at Saint Paul’s Cathedral. Arthur had apparently been growing weaker since his wedding and in March 1502 the couple were afflicted by an unknown illness. Katherine recovered but Arthur died on 2nd April 1502 at Ludlow, six months short of his sixteenth birthday.
The death of Prince Arthur allowed Henry VIII to become King, but sometimes I wonder if it would have been better if Arthur had survived? Arthur’s death and Henry’s marriage to his brother’s widow also caused trouble later on, starting debates as to whether it was allowed and whether Katherine and Arthur consummated their marriage.
A portrait of Arthur.