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Arthur, Prince of Wales

Arthur Tudor (20 September, 1486 - 2 April, 1502) was the eldest son of Henry VII of England. Henry named his eldest son Arthur after the hero of Arthurian legend, partly as a sign of his hopes for a rebirth of English greatness, and partly to emphasise the Tudor family's links to Wales.

Arthur was born to Henry and his queen, Elizabeth of York, at Winchester on September 19 or 20, 1486, but was never a robust child. The hopes of the newly-established Tudor dynasty were nevertheless pinned on him. He was Duke of Cornwall from birth, and was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester on November 29, 1489.

At the age of two, a marriage was arranged for Arthur, to the Spanish princess Catherine of Aragon. They were married in November, 1501, and departed for Ludlow on the Welsh border, where Arthur normally resided in his capacity as Prince of Wales and President of the Council of Wales and the Marches. The following spring, he died of a fever, possibly caused by the damp weather conditions. Medical researchers recently speculated that Arthur's death was due to an outbreak of hantavirus among rodents in Wales. The question of whether his marriage to Catherine was ever consummated would have a powerful effect on the subsequent history of Britain.

Arthur was buried in Worcester Cathedral; the memorial to him, `Prince Arthur's Chantry', was erected in the cathedral in 1504. His younger brother, Henry, inherited his titles, eventually acceding to the throne as King Henry VIII of England. In due course, a papal dispensation was obtained, enabling Henry to marry his brother's widow, Catherine. The grounds cited for their eventual divorce was the circumstances of her previous marriage to Arthur.

Additional reading

Antonia Fraser, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (ISBN 0749314095)

Last updated: 06-02-2005 20:19:03
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