There seems to have circulated since his death a myth that he was a sickly child, and that his early death was not altogether a surprise. But this, indeed, seems to be just a myth. There are no contemporary reports of Arthur being a sickly child, and the source of the rumor seems to be from a Victorian misunderstanding of a 1502 letter. In fact, the only interesting thing to note about Arthur as a child is that he seemed to grow abnormally tall for his age. He was regarded as a handsome boy with reddish hair, small eyes, and a high-bridged nose. He is described as being 'delicate', but also 'amiable and gentle' - so the first comment does not necessarily mean that he was delicate in health - but perhaps delicate in countenance and character. We have no reason to believe that his sudden illness and death was in any way expected due to any long-term health issues. Sudden illness and death at any age was commonplace in the sixteenth century, so we need not ascribe a lifelong medical diagnosis upon Arthur. Much more likely, he succumbed to an unlikely bout of sweating sickness, and it certainly shocked both his wife and his parents.
The news of Arthur's death did not reach Henry VII's court until late on 4 April, when the king was awoken in bed with the news that '[his] dearest son hath departed to God' - resulting in him reportedly bursting into tears. He called his queen to his side so they could share in their grief together. Elizabeth, evidently attempting to be the voice of reason, reminded them that they still had one prince and two princesses, and that they were young enough even for more. Once Henry was calm, she left the chamber, but collapsed into her own fit of tears shortly after. It was true that they still had little Prince Henry (then only eleven years old), but we can be sure that the knowledge of one living heir was not enough to quell the grief of two parents who had just lost their beloved child.
A procession for Arthur's soul would take place several days later on 8 April, and his body would be carried to the parish church at Ludlow on the 23rd, followed by another procession to Worcester Cathedral on the 25th for the funeral.
- Wikipedia (Arthur Tudor)
- Hubbard, Lauren, "The Cause of Prince Arthur Tudor's Death Remains a Medical Mystery" (2019), www.TownAndCountryMag.com.