The Death of Arthur, Prince of Wales – 2 April 1502

Posted By on April 2, 2011

On this day in history, Saturday 2nd April 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 15 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. On his Wikipedia page it lists consumption, diabetes and sweating sickness as possibilities, and other theories include testicular cancer, but David Loades, in his new book “Henry VIII”, comments that “in spite of the brave figure which he had cut on his wedding day, Arthur was not in robust health” and that his death was probably due to pneumonia caused by living in a “draughty castle”. I’d be inclined to believe that it was sweating sickness because Catherine also became ill, but then there doesn’t seem to have been an outbreak of sweating sickness in 1502, so perhaps it was just life in the cold, damp castle that got to both of them and Catherine was just stronger and could fight off the illness. Who knows?!

Catherine’s illness prevented her from attending her husband’s funeral at Worcester Cathedral, but fortunately she 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 and you can visit his resting place and memorial there, in Prince Arthur’s Chantry.

You can read more about Arthur in my article “Arthur, Prince of Wales”.