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The Lost Tudor Prince

1502 saw a huge blow dealt to the, still fragile, Tudor dynasty.

Following his victory over Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth, in August 1485, Henry Tudor was crowned Henry VII of England. He set about cementing his hold on the throne by marrying Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV. This has been, rather simplistically, explained as ending the Wars of the Roses by joining together the warring Houses of Lancaster and York. In reality Henry's hold on the throne was still fragile. However, children of the marriage would embody this union and satisfy both loyalist sides, or so Henry would have hoped.
Elizabeth of York
Henry Tudor

Henry and Elizabeth appear to have got on well and the marriage produced many children including two healthy sons - the heir and the spare! The heir, Arthur, grew up at court with his father, learning the art of Kingship and the nitty gritty of being a Tudor King. At the age of 15 he married Katherine of Aragon. This was a politically advantageous marriage designed to provide an alliance with Spain and provide support against England's old enemy, France.

However, tragedy struck within months of the marriage when, Arthur died at his seat of Ludlow Castle. The cause of death is uncertain but it came swift and was a shock to all. Arthur's death was a huge personal, as well as political, tragedy for the Tudor family. 

Prince Arthur's Chantry, Worcester Cathedral

In a curious mix of not making too much of the loss of the heir but also ensuring the ceremony showed his importance, Arthur was buried with huge ceremony away from London, in Worcester Cathedral, about 35 miles from Ludlow. Neither his Mother or Father attended the ceremony.

Arthur's magnificent tomb and chantry is richly decorated and covered in heraldry designed, purposely, to give any observer an instant impression of the lineage, and therefore legitimacy, of the Tudor family to which Arthur belonged.

When Henry VII died, in 1509, he was succeeded by his second son, Henry VIII. The rest, as they say, is history. Can't help wondering how different things would have been had Arthur lived! 

- Philippa Brewell

History Writer and History Tour Creator

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