22 February 1511 – Henry VIII loses a son

King Henry VIII
Henry VIII
On 22 February 1511, Henry, Duke of Corwall, son of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, died at the age of just fifty-two days at Richmond Palace. Chronicler Edward Hall records his death:

“After this great joy came sorowfull chaunce, for the young Prince, which was borne upon Neweyeres daye last past, upon the. xxii. daye of February, beyng then the eve of sainct Mathy, departed this world at Rychcmonde, and from thense was caryed to Westmynster, and buryed.

The kyng lyke a wyse prynce, toke this dolorous chaunce wonderous wysely, and the more to comfort the Quene, he dissimuled the matter, and made no great mourning out-wardely: but the Quene lyke a naturall woman, made much lamentacion, how be it, by the kynges good persuasion and behauiour, her sorowe was mytigated, but not shortlye.”

The little duke had been born on 1 January 1511 and had been baptised at the Chapel of Observant Friars, Richmond, four days later. His birth was celebrated with guns, bells pealing, bonfires and an extravagant tournament held at Westminster comprising jousting, pageants and banquets, and you can read all about this in my article Birth of Henry, Duke of Cornwall.

It is not known what little Henry died of, but there is no evidence that he was a sickly baby and his death seems to have been sudden. Catherine of Aragon had at least six pregnancies but only one resulted in a child who survived infancy: Mary. Henry had to wait until October 1537 for a living son and that was by his third wife, Jane Seymour. Click here to read more about Catherine of Aragon’s pregnancies.

The Westminster Abbey website tells of how Henry, Duke of Cornwall was buried there “on the north side of the Sanctuary area near the entrance to the chapel of St Edward the Confessor” and that “When the new High Altar was being constructed by Sir Gilbert Scott in the 1860s a small lead coffin of a child was found to the northern part of the step in front of it. This may have been the young Henry’s coffin but it was not disturbed. There is no marker.”

Notes and Sources

The portrait of Henry VIII is by an unknown artist and dates to around 1520.

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