Today 510 years ago British nigh English history were changed when a 15 year old boy died. This boy was an heir to the English Throne he left a Spanish widow in a foreign land, and his death made his spare brother King, a king who would change the face of Britain and her religion as well as be one of our most notorious characters in history, that spare prince was called Henry and he would become Henry VIII; and the Prince of Wales who died was Arthur.
Yes that’s right England had a prince called Arthur. His parents were Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, the royal couple who through their marriage ended the war of the Roses. His Father wanted him to be like the King Arthur of the myth. So much so Henry VII moved the Royal court to Winchester so that he could be born in the city thought to have been Camelot. A big gamble if you think about it as there was no way f telling if the child was male or female.
Prince Arthur was born on 20th September 1486 .Like his Tudor relatives Arthur had the trademark red hair, small dark eyes and Tudor nose.
Like all royal offspring, Arthur was to be used as a political pawn in the marital
market. He was betrothed to the Spanish Infanta when he was 2 years old as part of the treaty of Medina del Campo between Spain and England building an alliance against their mutual enemy France.
He was officially made the Prince of Wales in November 1489; he was a toddler aged 3. Also During this month his younger sister Margaret was born. His younger brother Henry was not born until 1491.
In preparation for the role he was to face as monarch, Arthur was given a first class renaissance education. And like his niece that he would never know, Elizabeth I he was said t have been a great scholar and studious boy with good grasp of both Latin and Greek.
1492 saw 6 year old Arthur sent to Ludlow castle to continue his preparation for later life. It was from his welsh castle that the young Prince of Wales wooed his bride to be in Latin letters. Don’t get me wrong these letters were letters of love or passion but formal writing probably dictated by their tutors but the young couple did correspond. Catherine of Aragon arrived in England for her marriage to Arthur on 4th November 1501. ten days later the pair married at St Pauls Cathedral. The pair then returned to Wales where Arthur died shortly afterwards.
It now widely thought that both his siblings Margaret and Henry VIII may have died from complications with type 2 diabetes. This may account for the seemingly sudden death. There seems t be no evidence to say that he was sickly or ill as a child. It is also worth noting that his widow Catherine also fell sick around this time but that’s not to say that her illness was different from his or as a shock reaction to his death; she was after all a young woman barely married in a foreign land with no status that sort of extreme stress can cause both mental and physical sickness.
The final resting place of the Prince was Worcester Cathedral neither of his parents attended his funeral. All evidence we have show that Arthur may have been the ideal king his father wanted, he was certainly trained to be one. Would England have avoided the reformation and remained Catholic? Would Catherine have been more fertile with Arthur than she was with Henry? Would Henry ever have been king? These are the great what ifs around the death of Arthur and mysteries that we will never know the answer too.