Arthur, Prince of Wales Biography

(Eldest Son of King Henry VII of England and Elizabeth of York)

Birthday: September 20, 1486 (Virgo)

Born In: Winchester Cathedral Priory, England

Arthur, Prince of Wales, the eldest son of King Henry VII of England and Elizabeth of York, was Duke of Cornwall from birth and was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester in 1489. The heir of the newly established House of Tudor, his birth cemented the union between the House of Lancaster and the House of York, and was seen as a symbol of the end of the Wars of the Roses. At eleven, he was betrothed to Catherine of Aragon, youngest daughter of the powerful Catholic Monarchs in Spain, and they were married shortly after he reached the age of 15 in 1501. Contrary to popular belief that he was sickly, he was in good health for the majority of his life, but succumbed to what is believed to be the sweating sickness, months after his marriage to Catherine.

Quick Facts

British Celebrities Born In September

Died At Age: 15


Spouse/Ex-: Catherine of Aragon

father: Henry VII of England

mother: Elizabeth of York

siblings: Henry VIII, Mary Tudor, Queen of France

Born Country: England

Emperors & Kings British Male

Died on: April 2, 1502

Childhood & Early Life

Arthur, Prince of Wales, was born on September 19 or 20, 1486, in Winchester Cathedral Priory, Winchester, Kingdom of England as the eldest son of King Henry VII of England and Elizabeth of York.

In an effort to strengthen the Tudor claim to the throne, his father had decided to name his firstborn son “Arthur” after legendary King Arthur and had him born in Winchester, identified as present-day Camelot.

His birth was seen as “a living symbol” of the union between the House of Lancaster and the House of York, as well as the end of the Wars of the Roses. He was baptized four days after his birth at Winchester Cathedral by the Bishop of Worcester, John Alcock, and it was immediately followed by his confirmation.

His royal nursery in Farnham was managed by Elizabeth Darcy, who had also served as the chief nurse for Edward IV's children including his own mother. His parents gave birth to six more children, among whom only three – Margaret, Henry and Mary – survived till adulthood, and Arthur was particularly fond of the former two, with whom he shared a nursery.

Arthur, who became Duke of Cornwall at birth, was made a Knight of the Bath on November 29, 1489 and was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester the following day. He was invested as such at the Palace of Westminster on February 27, 1490 and was made a Knight of the Garter at Saint George's Chapel at Windsor Palace on May 8, 1491.

He began his formal education under John Rede, a former headmaster of Winchester College, and later continued his education under blind poet Bernard André and Henry VII's former physician Thomas Linacre. He was a "superb archer", had learned to dance, and had memorized works by authors like Homer, Virgil, Ovid, Terence, and Cicero, apart from studying historical works by Thucydides, Caesar, Livy and Tacitus.

He was created warden of all the marches towards Scotland in May 1490, with the Earl of Surrey being appointed as his deputy. He was named on peace commissions starting in 1491, and in October 1492, when his father travelled to France, he was named Keeper of England and King's Lieutenant.

Following the example of Edward IV and in an attempt to enforce royal authority, Henry VII set up the Council of Wales and the Marches for Arthur in Wales in 1490. However, it was initially headed by Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford, but in March 1493, Arthur was granted the power to appoint justices of oyer and terminer and inquire into franchises.

In November 1493, he received an extensive land grant in Wales, including the County of March, and was first dispatched to Wales in 1501. He was served by sons of English, Irish and Welsh nobility, like Gerald FitzGerald, 9th Earl of Kildare, Anthony Willoughby, Robert Radcliffe, and Maurice St John.

Continue Reading Below

Arthur, Prince of Wales, was a child when his father planned to forge an Anglo-Spanish alliance against France by marrying him to a daughter of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon. The appropriate option was their youngest daughter Catherine, born in 1485, and the Treaty of Medina del Campo, dated March 27, 1489, provided that they would be married upon reaching canonical age.

Because 14-year-old Arthur was below the age of consent, a papal dispensation allowing the marriage was issued in February 1497 and they were betrothed by proxy on August 25, 1497. They were married by proxy two years later at his Tickenhill Manor in Bewdley, near Worcester.

He and Catherine exchanged letters in Latin until September 20, 1501, when Arthur became 15 years of age and thus deemed old enough to be married. Catherine landed at Plymouth, England, weeks later on October 2, 1501, and the two met for the first time at Dogmersfield in Hampshire a month later on November 4, 1501.

The pair had initial difficulty in communication as they discovered that they had mastered different pronunciations of Latin; however, Arthur promised Catherine’s parents through a letter that he would be "a true and loving husband". They were finally wedded in a marriage ceremony at Saint Paul's Cathedral on November 14, 1501 by Henry Deane, Archbishop of Canterbury, assisted by William Warham, Bishop of London.

It was followed by the only public bedding ceremony of a royal couple recorded in Britain in the 16th century, laid down by Arthur's grandmother Lady Margaret Beaufort and blessed by the Bishop of London. Catherine was led away from the wedding feast by her ladies-in-waiting and was "reverently" laid in bed, while Arthur was escorted by his gentlemen into the bedchamber as viols and tabors played.

Death & Legacy

After staying at Tickenhill Manor for a month, Arthur, Prince of Wales, and his wife Catherine went to the Welsh Marches and established their household at Ludlow Castle, but Arthur had started to grow weaker.

In March 1502, both of them were afflicted by an unknown illness, "a malign vapour which proceeded from the air”, believed to be the mysterious English sweating sickness, tuberculosis, plague or influenza.

While Catherine eventually recovered from the illness, Arthur died from it on April 2, 1502, six months short of his sixteenth birthday, but the news took two days more to reach King Henry VII’s court. His embalmed body was carried out of Ludlow Castle and into the Parish Church of Ludlow on April 23 before being taken to Worcester Cathedral via the River Severn on April 25 for funeral.

Following Arthur’s sudden death, his younger brother Henry VIII became the new heir apparent, later ascended the throne on April 22, 1509, and was married to Arthur's widow on 11 June 1509. Despite Catherine’s insistence that her marriage to Arthur was not consummated, Henry VIII exploited it to get their marriage annulled, eventually leading to the separation between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church.

See the events in life of Arthur, Prince Of Wales in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Arthur, Prince of Wales Biography
- Editors,

People Also Viewed

Catherine of Aragon Biography
Catherine of Aragon
(British, Spanish)
Elizabeth of York Biography
Elizabeth of York
King Charles III Biography
King Charles III
Harold Godwinson Biography
Harold Godwinson
Edward VII Biography
Edward VII