July 14 – The sons of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, die of sweating sickness

Posted By on July 14, 2022

On this day in Tudor history, 14th July 1551, in the reign of King Edward VI, the sons of Catherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk, and the late Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, died at Buckden.

Fifteen-year-old Henry Brandon, 2nd Duke of Suffolk, and his fourteen-year-old brother, Charles, 3rd Duke of Suffolk, had been taken ill in a sweating sickness epidemic that hit Cambridge.

Let me tell you what happened on that sad day in 1551…

Transcript:

On this day in Tudor history, 14th July 1551, in the reign of King Edward VI, fifteen-year-old Henry Brandon, 2nd Duke of Suffolk, and his fourteen-year-old brother, Charles, 3rd Duke of Suffolk, died of sweating sickness at Buckden, in Huntingdonshire. They were the sons of the late Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk, and his fourth wife Catherine Willoughby, Baroness Willoughby de Eresby and Duchess of Suffolk.

Sweating sickness, or the English Sweat, was a horrible disease which decimated towns and took thousands of lives in its five main epidemics in England in 1485, 1508, 1517, 1528 and 1551. It was a disease which killed quickly. Chronicler Edward Hall wrote of how it could kill within 2-3 hours, commenting “some merry at dinner and dead at supper”. I’ll give you a link to my video on sweating sickness.

Henry and Charles Brandon had been studying at St John’s College, Cambridge, when sweating sickness broke out in the town. Fearing for their lives, their mother, who had been staying in Kingston, a village just outside Cambridge, had the boys moved to the home of the Bishop of Lincoln in Buckden, Huntingdonshire.

While the boys were being moved to Buckden, the Duchess became ill. By the time she had recovered enough to travel to Buckden, Henry had died and Charles, who had succeeded his brother as Duke of Suffolk, was dying. Both boys died on the same day. The Duchess must have been heartbroken.

The boys were buried privately at Buckden and then a special requiem mass, known as “A Month’s Mind”, was celebrated on 22nd September 1551. John Strype writes that “it was performed with two standards, two banners, great and large, ten bannerols, with divers coats of arms; two helmets, two swords, two targets crowned, two coats of arms; two crests, and ten dozen of escutcheons crowned; with lamentation that so noble a stock was extinct in them.”

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