The Birth of Arthur Prince of Wales

Arthur Prince of Wales c.1500

Arthur Prince of Wales c.1500. Believed to be the only contemporary portrait of Arthur, on display at Hever Castle

On 20th September 1486 Arthur, Prince of Wales was born at St Swithuns Priory in Winchester, the first child of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York.

Elizabeth, the daughter of Edward IV, had become pregnant very quickly after marrying Henry VII in January 1486 and the pregnancy was widely celebrated throughout England. Henry had married Elizabeth to unite the houses of Lancaster and York after years of conflict during the Wars of the Roses so a baby was just what was needed to cement that union as well as strengthen the new dynasty that Henry had established.

Henry was convinced the baby would be a boy and planned to name his new son Arthur after the legendary King Arthur of Camelot who Henry believed was his ancestor. Henry was convinced Arthur’s birth would herald in a new Golden Age for England like the one presided over by King Arthur and he wanted his son to follow in his footsteps. To further emphasise the point Henry also decided the birth should take place at Winchester which was widely believed to be the capital of King Arthur’s Camelot.

Henry moved his Court to Winchester in early September in preparation for the upcoming birth. Not long after they arrived Elizabeth went into labour and gave birth to Arthur a month early. Despite being premature Arthur was a healthy baby. Elizabeth was not as fortunate and suffered with a fever soon after the birth but thankfully made a full recovery.  Continue reading