Happy Birthday to Henry VIII's older brother Arthur, Prince of Wales (1486-1503)

Three Children of K. Henry VII and Elizabeth his Queen. 1. Prince Henry. II. Prince Arthur. III. Ps. Margaret. From the Royal Collection at Kensington Palace. To his Grtace the most noble Thomas, Duke of Leeds, this is most humbly Inscribed by Geo: Vertue.
J.Maubeugius Pinxit cir. MCCCCXCVI. G.Vertue Lond: delin et Sculp. 1748.
Engraving. 570 x 485mm, 22½ x 19". Some wear to edges. Uncut sheet.
Arthur, as heir to the throne takes the centre seat, with his younger brother Henry (later Henry VIII) on the left. On the right is Margaret, grandmother of Mary, Queen of Scots. 

This engraving is by George Vertue from a no longer extant painting of 1496 that shows the three elder children: Arthur, Henry and Margaret sitting at a table and playing with two apples and some cherries. The picture is ornamented at the top with the portcullis (the Beaufort emblem) surmounted with roses. In reality, Henry had little to do with his older brother, who was educated at Ludlow in the Marches of Wales, while Henry remained with his sisters at Eltham Palace in Kent (Starkey, 24).

On this day in 1486, the eldest son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York was born at Swithun's Priory, Winchester. Arthur, Prince of Wales, was named after the mythical British King of Welsh descent, whom the Tudors claimed as an ancestor. In memory of Arthur, the baby prince was baptized in Winchester Cathedral, which some believed was the site of Camelot. When he was three years old, Arthur was dubbed a Knight of the Bath and invested as Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, but, when six, he was packed off to Ludlow and had little further contact with his family.

Far more attention was paid to Arthur's education than that of his younger brother. He was first taught by John Rede (formerly headmaster of Winchester College) and then by the blind French poet, Bernard Andre. His death in 1503 was a cruel blow to his parents, but they tried to comfort each other for their loss. He was buried in Worcester Cathedral (Starkey, 38).
Prince Arthur, Collection of His Grace the Duke of Northumberland
This is one of only two authenticated portraits of the Prince. In his hand is a gillyflower, or carnation, a symbol of purity or royalty. 

David Starkey, Man & Monarch Henry VIII, Exhibition Catalogue, (London, 2009)
David Starkey, Henry; Virtuous Prince (London, 2008)
Maria Perry, The Sisters of Henry VIII: The Tumultuos Lives of Margaret of Scotland and Mary of France, (London, 1998)
Arthur, Prince of Wales, Oxford DNB

Please feel free to leave any questions or comments,


Anonymous said…
We can only conjecture what history would have been had Arthur lived to be king! Nice tribute. gigigirl
Kimberly Eve said…
Exactly, gigigirl! I think about that often. How different history would have been for both the Plantagenet and Tudor lines, had Arthur lived into adulthood and married Katherine of Aragon. Younger brother, Henry would have remained 'the spare' and what might have been, we shall never know. Alas, it wasn't meant to be!
Thank you for such a wonderful comment!

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