2 April 1502 – Death of Arthur, Prince of Wales

On this day in 1502, Arthur, Prince of Wales, son and heir of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, died at Ludlow Castle in the Welsh Marches. He was just fifteen years old, and had only been married to the Spanish princess Catherine of Aragon for four and a half months.

It is not known exactly what killed the young prince. The theories include consumption, diabetes, sweating sickness, testicular cancer and pneumonia. Catherine also became ill, but fortunately recovered and went on to marry Arthur’s younger brother, Henry, when he became King in 1509. Arthur was laid to rest in Worcester Cathedral, in Prince Arthur’s Chantry.

In his book The Children of Henry VIII, John Guy writes of how a diagnosis of testicular cancer could explain why Doña Elvira Manuel, Catherine of Aragon’s first lady of the bedchamber, asserted that Catherine and Arthur had never consummated their marriage. Guy goes on to say that “the pains and the damage to his reproductive system could have resulted in an impaired sexual function.” Interesting.


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