Don’t sweat it Arthur of Wales

Finally had time to write my 100th post :). I will probably not have that much time to write on my blog because we’re going to New York, but after that I should have plenty to write about. I decided to write about the fate of Arthur of Wales before that so no one has to wonder what happened to him.

Catherine of Aragon and Arthur of Wales moved to Wales together as newly-weds when they we’re just 15 years old.They started to live at Ludlow Castle.

ludlow castle 1

Ludlow Castle

ludlow castle 2

Castle Cottage next to Ludlow Castle where Arthur and Catherine lived

ludlow castle 3

Ludlow Castle


ludlow castle 5

Ludlow Castle (ruin)

This did not work out very well, but not for the reasons you might think. They both got a sickness called sweating sickness. It sounds a bit like a sickness made-up by Roald Dahl, but sweating sickness was apparently a thing in the 15th and 16th century. It was a very contagious disease and people could die within hours of getting sick. It started with a cold stage with cold shivers, giddiness, headache and severe pains in the neck, shoulders and limbs. In the hot stage came sweat, sense of heat, delirium, pain in chest, rapid pulse and intense thirst. In the last stage people got very tired and collapsed.

Catherine was lucky enough to recover, but Arthur died after only 6 months of married life on 2 april 1502. His parents were informed on the 4th of April by the king\s confessor. He told him the news by quoting Job by saying to the king:

“If we receive good things at the hands of God, why may we not endure evil things?”



He than told him that his dearest son was with God and Henry VII cried. He called for his wife and she initially stayed strong and reminded her husband of his remaining 3 children that needed them, but she broke down later and then the king tried to comfort her.

Arthur’s body was embalmed and buried in Worcester Cathedral. His embalmed body that was sprinkled with holy water was transported in style: in a custom-made black wagon drawn by 6 black horses caparisoned in black. The funeral ceremonies lasted for days. He was buried with his helmet, shield, sword and embroidered Coat of Arms. As customary Catherine did not attend the funeral.


Arthur’s younger brother Henry would now be next-in-line to be king unless Catherine would be pregnant and give birth to a son. This put Henry VII in an awkward situation since he had already accepted the 200,000 ducats as a dowry for Catherine. According to the marriage contract he had to give it back if Catherine was send back to Spain. Henry VII first considered to marry her himself, but realized that this wouldn’t  be very popular and than came up with the idea that Henry should marry Catherine even though he was 5 years younger than her. The decision was postponed until Henry had the legal age to consent to a wedding. Catherine stayed in England until the decision was made.

Sleep tight friends, Hilde


4 thoughts on “Don’t sweat it Arthur of Wales

  1. Pingback: Catherine of Aragon wedding (night) | hemmahoshilde

  2. Thank you for explaining the details of sweating sickness, Hilde fan den Bergh. Reference to this dread illness is in my soon-to-be released historical romance, Sense of Touch.

    …the elderly court physician at Blois had come down with sweating sickness, and the queen didn’t want him near her daughter until it was clear he had recovered. —Sense of Touch, p. 245

    Liked by 1 person

  3. She was smart, because sweating sickness was very contagious and one didn’t even become immune after one survived it so some people got sweating sickness several times.


  4. Pingback: Good tidings | hemmahoshilde (@Hilde's home)

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