So, I’m back and I’m blogging again! Apologies for letting this blog slide over the last several months – but life and work have kept me busy elsewhere. However, an article came to my attention recently that left me scratching my head. Not so long ago, the grave of Prince Arthur was re-discovered in Worcester Cathedral. His remains were discreetly examined in such a way as to not disturb them and some strange conclusions seem to have resulted. That is what I want to look at here.
According to one of those involved in the case, there is evidence of “foul play”, and goes on to imply rather strongly that Henry VII had regarded his elder son as sickly, and could clearly see that his younger son, Henry Duke of York, would make a much better King. Therefore, Prince Arthur was packed off to Ludlow with a skinful of poison to sort the problem out.
First of all, what evidence is there to suggest that Arthur had been sickly all his life? There isn’t any, and is more of an assumption. If he had been sickly, wouldn’t medical bills, treatments and lengthy periods of convalescence be recorded in contemporary chronicles? From the evidence we have, Arthur was in perfectly normal health up until his sudden death in April, 1501.
If Henry VII could easily see that his Duke of York would make a far better King, then why did he invest every hope in Arthur, and arrange a grand marital alliance for him? If he was going to poison Arthur, would he not have at least waited until after Ferdinand had paid up the rest of Catherine’s dowry? Why would he kill any of his children at all? Like a lot of parents, Henry actually seemed rather fond of his children!
The Tudor Dynasty was new. Henry had just established a relative peace and stability on a hitherto fractious nation that was rent with Dynastic feuding. He needed, above all, set his grip firmly into the government and take root as the new King, with a new Dynasty, that would be the advent of a whole new era. For that, he needed heirs. So why on earth would he then poison one (even if he did fancy the other’s chances more – of which there is no evidence that he did)?
Following Prince Arthur’s death; Henry was devastated. Both he, and Elizabeth of York, were said to be inconsolable. If Arthur had be poisoned by his father, would Henry not have been rubbing his hands with glee at a job well done? The reality is that his new Dynasty was left horribly weakened by the loss of the child in whom all hope for the future had been invested. He was left with just one small son to carry that burden, and life in the sixteenth century could be all too brief. Killing one precious son just doesn’t make sense. Not on a personal level, a political level, or a dynastic level. It simply did not happen. Whatever it was that killed Prince Arthur, it was natural and it caused his family incalculable devastation.
I would normally have this, which is so obviously a conspiracy theory, slide. It’s senseless on a number of levels. However, not only is the theory to be found in the original article I was linked to, but in Prince Arthur’s Wikipedia entry. It seems to be taking hold, and someone needs to debunk it quickly before poor Henry VII is down forever as a killer of his own son!