On this day in 1551 – Henry and Charles Brandon died of the sweating sickness

Henry and Charles Brandon were the sons of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk and his final wife, Catherine Willoughby.

Upon their father’s death Henry succeeded him as 2nd Duke of Suffolk on 22nd August 1545 but due to their ages, Henry was 15 and Charles was 14, instead of taking up the role that was expected of him the two young boys continued their studies at St John’s College, Cambridge. When the sweating sickness broke out across the country they were sent to the countryside.

Sweating sickness was strike fast and the symptoms would appear suddenly. Symptoms included cold shivers, headache and exhaustion. Once the fever took a hold of the body sweating, delirium and a rapid pulse would manifest before the infected would eventually collapse with exhaustion and fall into a need for sleeping. The disease could kill within hours of the symptoms making themselves known.

The two young boys were staying at the Bishop of Lincoln’s Palace in Buckden in Huntingdon when they were taken ill and on 14th July 1551 they succumbed to the sweating sickness and died within an hour of each other. Henry died first and therefore passed the title of Duke of Suffolk to his younger brother who held the title for just one hour. Their mother had been staying nearby reached the house just before the youngest Brandon passed away.

They were buried at Buckden privately before a requiem mass was held on 22nd September which would be called “A Month’s Mind”. John Strype wrote;

it was performed with two standards, two banners, great and large, ten bannerols, with divers coats of arms; two helmets, two swords, two targets crowned, two coats of arms; two crests, and ten dozen of escutcheons crowned; with lamentation that so noble a stock was extinct in them.”

Charles Brandon Henry Brandon

Left: Henry Brandon, 2nd Duke of Suffolk. Right: Charles Brandon, 3rd Duke of Suffolk

Painted by Hans Holbein the Younger

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