Find information on The Tudors and Tudor History, events like the Wars of the Roses and the Protestant Reformation and famous figures such as Henry VIII, Henry VIII's wives, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots and more.
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 →
Today is the 500 year anniversary of the Battle of Flodden, an epic battle between England and Scotland that led to the death of the Scottish king, James IV. He had been Henry VIII’s brother in law and would be the last British king to die on a battlefield.
Henry VIII was away fighting a campaign in France at the time of the Battle of Flodden and had announced that his wife, Catherine of Aragon, would be Governor of the Realm and Captain General of the Forces in his absence. She would be helped to run the country by a handful of Councillors. The Scots were an old time ally of the French, in what was known as the Auld Alliance. Catherine and her Councillors were sure that Scotland would honour this alliance and exploit Henry’s absence so they all had growing concerns about England’s northern borders.
Catherine’s fears were soon realised when James IV declared war on England, he was going to support his ‘Auld’ ally and help divert English troops away from France. By this time Henry was camped outside Therouanne laying siege to the city, on the 11th August 1513 James sent a herald to Henry who passed on the message that he should abandon his efforts in France and go back to England. Henry was extremely angry about this, he felt James should be on England’s side considering he was married to his sister, Margaret. Henry responded back to the messenger:
“And now, for a conclusion, recommend me to your master and tell him if he be so hardy to invade my realm or cause to enter one foot of my ground I shall make him as weary of his part as ever was man that began any such business. And one thing I ensure him by the faith that I have to the Crown of England and by the word of a King, there shall never King nor Prince make peace with me that ever his part shall be in it. Moreover, fellow, I care for nothing but for misentreating of my sister, that would God she were in England on a condition she cost the Schottes King not a penny.”
On the 11th June 1509 Henry VIII married his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, in a church just outside Greenwich Palace.
Catherine was the widow of Henry’s brother Arthur and because of that a special dispensation was required from the Pope in order for them to be allowed to marry. This stated that Catherine’s first marriage had ‘perhaps’ not been consummated, a rather ambiguous turn of phrase. Henry could never have imagined at the time that this dispensation or the use of that little word ‘perhaps’ would be the subject of much argument later on in his marriage!
Despite the legalities Henry was officially betrothed to Catherine on the 23rd June 1503 but Henry VII then spent the next few years arguing over the terms of her dowry with Catherine’s father, Ferdinand of Aragon. He basically made her life a misery in a bid to persuade Ferdinand to send more money!
A Young Henry VIII c1509
Henry VII had also been widowed in 1503 which put him back on the marriage market. By the summer of 1505 he was rumoured to be seeking a triple Habsburg alliance, marrying his daughter Mary to the future Charles V, Henry to Charles’ sister Eleanor or Austria and himself to Charles’ aunt, the Archduchess Margaret of Austria. Catherine was basically left hanging whilst Henry VII toyed with these various marriage alliances and argued over money. She was left isolated, made all the worse by the fact she couldn’t yet speak English fluently and could barely provide for her own household because of the situation with her dowry. Catherine’s health started to fail with the stress and she finally wrote to her father in the spring of 1509 saying she could no longer take being persecuted by Henry VII and wanted to return to Spain. As it turned out there would be no need for this as Henry VII died on 21st April 1509, releasing Catherine from his clutches after nearly 7 years. Henry VIII was now King and his marriage to Catherine could finally move forward! Continue reading →