On This Day in History – 20 September – Birth of Prince Arthur


Anonymous portrait of Prince Arthur, son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York c.1501.
Anonymous portrait of Prince Arthur, son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York c.1501.

Event– Birth of Prince Arthur

Year– 1486

Location– Winchester Cathedral Priory, England

Prince Arthur was the eldest son and heir of Henry VII, King of England, and his wife, Elizabeth of York. Arthur was the symbol of the union of the warring houses of Lancaster and York. His father, Henry VII, was Lancastrian and his mother, Elizabeth of York, was a Yorkist. Arthur himself was the symbol of the union of the houses, ending the Wars of the Roses.

Henry VII decided to name his firstborn son after the legendary King Arthur and he decided that Winchester was representative of Camelot. In the 16th century the location was St Swithin’s Priory in Winchester (today Winchester Cathedral Priory). He was born at around 1am on 20 September 1486, just 8 months after the marriage of his parents, meaning he was either 1 month premature, or his parents had consummated their union without waiting for an official marriage.

Prince Arthur would later marry Katherine of Aragon, but would die just short of his 16th birthday in 1502, leaving his brother to become the future Henry VIII.

Further Reading

  • Brigden, Susan, New Worlds, Lost Worlds (2000)
  • Gunn, Steven & Monckton, Linda, Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales: Life, Death and Commemoration (2009)
  • Lisle, Leanda de, Tudor: the Family Story (2013)
  • Loades, David, The Tudors: History of a Dynasty (2012)
  • Weir, Alison, Britain’s Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy (2008)

Author: Helene Harrison

I have an MA in History, with a thesis entitled 'The Many Faces of Anne Boleyn: Perceptions in History, Literature and Film'. I have an interest in the Tudors and the Wars of the Roses along with my love of reading and literature.

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