22 February 1511 – The death of a male heir

A young Henry VIII.
A young Henry VIII.

On this day in history, 22nd February 1511, King Henry VIII and Queen Catherine of Aragon lost their infant son, Henry, Duke of Cornwall, at the age of just fifty-two days.

The royal couple had already lost a daughter, in January 1510, when she was stillborn, and this second loss must have been a heavy blow. The little boy was buried at Westminster Abbey.

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One thought on “22 February 1511 – The death of a male heir”
  1. Poor Katherine, she had done so well to give Henry a healthy son so early in the marriage and then due to lack of knowledge, in fact SIDS or cot death causes were not known until about 20 years ago, the heir that could have meant so much more for her and Henry’s future dies. How heart rendering this must have been for both Katherine and Henry. Katherine was described as being heart broken and is said to have mourned and wept ‘like a natural woman’ at her baby’s death. Henry was also upset and must have prayed and wept with his wife, even if he did accept this as being ‘the Lord’s will’. We don’t really know how deeply he was affected or for how long, but no human being could fail to be upset at the deathof their beloved child. The young Henry was much more compassionate than he was in later years and he mourned and wept for his lost children.

    The finding of the box that may have held the bones of Prince Henry in Westminster shows that he was placed there with all the honours of a royal baby; he had been baptised so he would have the full honours for the dead; he would have the usual masses and prayers and it is clear that he was buried as befits his station. It is a pity that no marker is found, but that does not mean that one did not exist originally. Babies were sometimes placed in the tomb of their father or mother; depending at which age they died and later tombs often commemorated children, even infants by name and with visual images. There is an infant child of Queen Anne in the tomb of Henry VIII from the seventeenth century. How and why she was placed there is unknown but it may have been the nearest available space at the time. Little is known about the other children Henry and Katherine lost; may-be no enough remains were left to actually bury them if they were miscarried, or maybe they just have not been found yet.

    It is often assumed that people did not feel for their lost children as it was common but prayers and poems and personal memorials prove that they were loved and mourned and remembered.

    Rest in peace: Prince Henry, Prince of unforfilled hope. Rest in peace and love.

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