DEAD: Arthur, Prince of Wales

DEAD: ON THIS DATE

Arthur, Prince of Wales (aged 15)
Prince of Wales, Earl of Chester and Duke of Cornwall

Arthur Tudor (19/20 September 1486 – 2 April 1502) was Prince of Wales, Earl of Chester and Duke of Cornwall. As the eldest son and heir apparent of Henry VII of England, Arthur was viewed by contemporaries as the great hope of the newly established House of Tudor. His mother, Elizabeth of York, was the daughter of Edward IV, and his birth cemented the union between the House of Tudor and the House of York.

DEATH: After residing at Tickenhill Manor for a month, Arthur and Catherine headed for the Welsh Marches, where they established their household at Ludlow Castle. Arthur had been growing weaker since his wedding, and although Catherine was reluctant to follow him, she was ordered by Henry VII to join her husband. Arthur found it easy to govern Wales, as the border had become quiet after many centuries of warfare. In March 1502, Arthur and Catherine were afflicted by an unknown illness, “a malign vapour which proceeded from the air.” While Catherine recovered, Arthur died on 2 April 1502 at Ludlow, six months short of his sixteenth birthday.

On 8 April, a general procession took place for the salvation of Arthur’s soul. That night, a dirge was sung in St Paul’s Cathedral and every parish church in London. On 23 April, Arthur’s body, which had previously been embalmed, sprinkled with holy water and sheltered with a canopy, was carried out of Ludlow Castle and into the Parish Church of Ludlowby various noblemen and gentlemen. On 25 April, Arthur’s body was taken to Worcester Cathedral via the River Severn, in a “special wagon upholstered in black and drawn by six horses, also caparisoned in black.” As was customary, Catherine did not attend the funeral. The Earl of Surrey acted as chief mourner. At the end of the ceremony, Sir William Uvedale, Sir Richard Croft and Arthur’s household ushers broke their staves of office and threw them into the Prince’s grave. During the funeral, Arthur’s own arms were shown alongside those of Cadwaladr ap Gruffydd and Brutus of Troy. Two years later, a chantry was erected over Arthur’s grave.

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