Category Archives: Arthur Tudor

On this day in 1486 – Prince Arthur Tudor was born

Following King Henry VII’s victory at the Battle of Bosworth he would have found it vital to secure the throne and produce an heir so when his new bride, Elizabeth of York announced her pregnancy there was great joy in the new Tudor court.

Just weeks before the new Queen was due to give birth; Henry moved his court from London to Winchester, 60 miles away. Henry believed that Winchester was the home of Camelot where King Arthur and his knights of the round table held court, Henry felt a strong connection to King Arthur and had even ordered a family tree to be commissioned that traced his ancestors back to the time of Arthur. The Queen had not been due for a few more weeks but Bernard Andre believed that the upheaval and the long journey caused Elizabeth to go into premature labour and she gave birth to a son in the early hours of 20th September 1486 at St Swithun’s Priory.

St Swithun's GateSt Swithun’s Gate, Winchester

Upon Arthur’s birth he was bestowed the title of Duke of Cornwall and his birth firmly cemented the union between the Houses of Tudor and York. Messengers were sent out and bonfires were lit across the country to announce the birth of the new Prince and Te Deum’s were sung in Cathedrals up and down England to celebrate the arrival of Arthur.

Due to Arthur’s early birth plans for his baptism had to be brought forward to the 24th September, with the King hoping that four days would be enough time for people to arrive at Winchester for the celebration as due to the early arrival key peers such as John de Vere, the Earl of Oxford had not yet arrived at the new court, in fact he was still at his home in Lavenham, Surrey over 100 miles away.

On the morning of the 24th September the Earl of Oxford, who was a godparent to the new Prince, had still not arrived. King Henry had been informed that Oxford was within a mile of the ceremony and so the decision was made to postpone the beginning of the baptism. However, after three hours, Oxford had still not arrived and the congregation was getting restless so Henry intervened and asked Thomas Stanley, his stepfather, to act as a proxy godparent. With this agreed Henry returned to being out of sight, as was the protocol at baptisms, and ordered the ceremony to begin.

With the ceremony underway the priest was beginning to name the child when Oxford entered the Cathedral, Oxford then proceeded to take Arthur in his right arm and presented him for his confirmation. Arthur’s other godparents would be William FitzAlan, Earl of Arundel, Elizabeth Woodville, Dowager Queen and Arthur’s grandmother and Cecily of York, Queen Elizabeth’s sister and Arthur’s aunt.

Following the ceremony Arthur was taken back to his mother, who had not been present as tradition dictated and would be missing from the court until her churching, which normally took place 60 days after the birth of a child but Elizabeth’s churching took place just 40 days after Arthur’s birth. Arthur was carried by his aunt, Lady Cecily and was followed by a procession that passed through the nursery with the King’s musicians. Arthur was then delivered back to his mother and nurses whilst the court went and continued celebrating the new heir to the Tudor throne.

Arthur’s nursery consisted of Lady Darcy who was in charge of the nursery itself, a position she held previously with King Edward IV’s son, Arthur’s wet nurse was Catherine Gibbs and his rockers were Agnes Butler and Evelyn Hobbes.

Arthur Tudor was idolised by his mother and father who viewed him as the future of the country until his untimely death in 1502.

ArthurPrince Arthur Tudor

On this day in 1499 – Prince Arthur Tudor and Katherine of Aragon were married by proxy

Prince Arthur Tudor and Katherine of Aragon were married by proxy on 19th May 1499 at Tickenhall Manor, Bewdley.

Negotiations between Henry VII and Ferdinand of Aragon had been long and the marriage had finally been agreed when the Treaty of Medina del Campo was signed on 27th March 1489. The treaty agreed that Katherine’s dowry would be 200,000 crowns. The marriage took a further 10 years to be fulfilled despite a papal dispensation being issued in 1497.

Arthur Tudor

The proxy marriage finally took place at Arthur’s residence in Bewdley, Worcestershire with the Spanish Ambassador Roderigo de Puebla representing the absent Katherine as she was still in Spain. Arthur was accompanied by his household and the Bishop of Lincoln. A letter also stated that both King’s along with the Pope were happy for the union to continue. The Bishop presided over the ceremony and Arthur and de Puebla joined hands to cement the union.

Later Arthur said to de Puebla at the time of the proxy marriage that ‘he much rejoiced to contract the marriage because of his deep and sincere love for the Princess’.

A sweet chestnut tree was planted to commemorate the wedding and although Tickenhall no longer stands the tree has remained over the years.

arthur tudor tree

The couple finally married in a lavish ceremony at St. Paul’s on 14th November 1501.

On this day in 1502 – Prince Arthur Tudor died

Prince Arthur Tudor died on 2nd April 1502 only five months after his marriage to Katherine of Aragon. The eldest son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, Arthur was the heir to the English throne.

After his lavish wedding to Katherine of Aragon the newlyweds were sent to Ludlow Castle where the Prince of Wales was to learn to be King and also rule over the principality of Wales. After a brief stay at Tickenhall Manor, Bewdley the couple set off for Ludlow.

Ludlow Castle was a luxurious palace but it was also cold. After a particularly bitter winter in late March 1502, both Arthur and Katherine fell ill. It is still a mystery what struck the new royal couple; the most common theory was they were struck by the sweating sickness that had swept the country. Katherine battled through the illness and survived; however, Prince Arthur Tudor succumbed to it and passed away at the age of 15.

A courtier was dispatched immediately for London to break the news to the King. On 4th April Henry VII’s confessor was sent to wake up the King and inform him of the death of his son and heir. Henry broke down in tears and his wife was called upon to comfort him. Elizabeth of York informed the King that they were still young and could have more children and they also had Prince Henry. After leaving the King Elizabeth walked back to her chamber but on the way collapsed on the ground and was inconsolable. Her ladies in waiting called for the King who came and comforted her.

Arthur’s body remained in Ludlow but on 8th April in London a procession took place for Arthur’s soul and at St Paul’s in the afternoon a dirige (service for the dead) was sung. Meanwhile in Ludlow Arthur’s body was disembowelled, embalmed and wrapped in a wax cloth before being placed in a coffin. Arthur was laid to rest in his chambers where his people came to pay their respects. At some point his heart was buried in Ludlow Church.

Henry lay in state within his chambers at Ludlow until 23rd April while his lavish funeral was planned. Worcester Cathedral was chosen due to it being the closest Cathedral to Ludlow that was not affected by the sweating sickness. On the 23rd Arthur’s body was sprinkled with holy water and was transferred to Ludlow church. His body was covered by a canopy as it travelled the short distance. A large procession accompanied the cortege including many gentlemen of Arthur and Katherine’s court. Arthur’s body was placed in a hearse and remained guarded in Ludlow castle overnight. The following day the traditional three masses were held. They were for Our Lady, of the Trinity and of the Requiem. Following these events dinner was held at Ludlow Castle.

On 25th April one final requiem mass was held in Ludlow Church before Arthur left Ludlow to begin his final journey. Due to the long journey ahead a special wagon was commissioned that was covered in black fabric and drawn by six black horses. The cortège travelled slowly through the countryside accompanied by Arthur’s gentlemen, bishops, the prince’s banner bearer and the officers of arms. Also following the cortège was 120 torch bearers. At the end of the first day the procession arrived at Tickenhall Manor, Arthur’s home in Bewdley. Arthur’s body was laid to rest overnight in his chapel.

After another requiem mass on the morning of 26th April the cortège set off for the final part of the journey towards Worcester. Huge crowds turned out to greet the cortège. Arthur’s body was placed in the Cathedral choir.

Arthur’s funeral on 27th April was a magnificent affair and no expense was spared. A mass of requiem was offered. The Earl of Surrey acted as the chief mourner and alongside the officers of arms offered up Arthur’s heraldic accomplishments which were his coat of arms, shield, sword and helm. Also an unusual event happened as Arthur was a prince of the realm a knight on horseback rode down the length of the Cathedral to the choir where he dismounted and approached the presiding bishop’s. Finally it was time for Arthur’s burial, prayers were offered to Arthur’s soul and finally the prince’s servants and gentlemen ushers broke their staffs over their heads and cast them into the grave. This signalled the end of their service to Arthur now they have committed him to the ground.

Henry VII spared no expense with Arthur’s funeral with it costing £892. Katherine of Aragon, King Henry VII nor Elizabeth of York was present at Arthur’s funeral. Katherine was still recovering from her illness and the King and Queen did not like to be around death and mortality, also it was believed that Worcester was suffering from the plague.


Two years later a chantry was placed above where Arthur was buried. However, the chantry remained incomplete many shields remained uncut. On the outside of the chantry are 19 panels that contain a random combination of the following; the ostrich feather (Arthur badge as prince of Wales), a single rose, the rose en soleil and eagle and featherlock (Yorkist badges) the Beaufort portcullis (now a symbol of parliament), the fleur-de-lis (for Arthur’s great grandmother Katherine de Valois), the pomegranate of Granada (for Katherine of Aragon) and finally arrows in clusters (for Katherine’s father). It is believed these were added at a later date as the stone is different to the rest of the area and the workmanship appears to be poorer than the rest of the chantry.


Arthur’s tomb itself within the chantry is a simple panelled Purbeck that has no effigy or brass. Around the lid is an inscription that says;

Here lyeth buryed Prince Arthure the first begotten son of the right renowned kinge henry the seventhe, which Noble Prynce departed oute of this transitory lyfe in the Castle of Ludlowe in the seventeenth yere of his fathers raygne, and in the yere of oure Lord God on thousand five hundred and two.”


Arthur’s tomb is very different to the rest of the chantry, which makes some historians believe it was commissioned years after Arthur’s death. It is of a similar design to King John’s tomb which was commissioned in the 1520’s. The inside of Arthur’s chantry was also damaged during one of the attempts to dissolve the monasteries.


If you look carefully at the top of Arthur’s chantry you will see that the tips of the turrets have been damaged and removed. Upon talking to a tour guide at Worcester Cathedral it was believed that either the chantry had been moved at some point or it was made in London to the wrong dimensions and when it was assembled it Worcester it did not fit the designated area.


Arthur’s chantry is a wonder to see although it does feel a bit neglected as if work was not completed by the time of Henry VII’s death and Henry VIII did not continue the work as he wanted to be the centre of attention especially as he was married to Arthur’s widow, Katherine of Aragon.

On this day in 1489 – the Treaty of Medina del Campo was agreed

The Treaty of Medina del Campo was agreed on March 26th 1489. Henry VII needed a strong ally in a wealthy and powerful European country. The English crown was still vulnerable after Henry won the throne in battle against Richard III. Henry VII chose to enter into an alliance with Spain.

The Treaty of Medina del Campo agreed three main points

  1. A common policy between the two countries regarding France
  2. A reduction of tariffs between the two countries
  3. A marriage contract between Henry VII’s son, Arthur and the daughter of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, Katherine.

Arthur Tudor was only three years old at the time of the treaty with Katherine six months older. In accordance with the treaty they would be married when they come of age. Henry VII needed to build a strong Tudor dynasty and ensure the future generations so he needed to marry his heir to a Princess from a powerful nation. Katherine’s dowry was set at 200,000 crowns.

The other points of the treaty were that England and Spain would come to each other’s aide if they declared war against France; the terms of the treaty were more beneficial to Spain as they could call upon England to support any Spanish military campaign.

The full terms of the treaty were never held and it was renegotiated twice in 1492 and 1497. Arthur and Katherine were eventually married in 1502. Katherine bought with her half of her dowry; the rest would remain a sore point between Henry and Ferdinand in the years to come.