Arthur and Katherine Sent to Ludlow Castle

arthur-and-katherine-sent-to-ludlow-castle

Merely three months after their marriage, Arthur and Katherine, Prince and Princess of Wales were sent to Wales to reside at Ludlow Castle to preserve ancient customs (as the letter states).

Here is a letter from Henry VII to Katherine’s parents (Ferdinand and Isabel) letting them know that Arthur and Katherine were sent to Wales to reside at Ludlow Castle.

The young couple were married on the 14th of November 1501 – this letter was dated the 20th of February 1502.

Little did Henry VII know, two months after he sent this letter, his son would be dead, and Katherine a widow. All the hard work it took to see the marriage to fruition ended so abruptly.

Prince and Princess of Wales – Ludlow

Henry VII to Ferdinand and Isabella
[“Court and Society from Elizabeth to Anne,” Vol. I]

Richmond, February 20, 1502

To the most serene and most puissant Prince and Princess, the Lord and Lady Ferdinando and Isabel, by the grace of God King and Queen of Castile, Leon, Arragon, Sicily, Grenada, &c., our well-beloved kinsfolk and cousins, we Henry by the same grace, King of England and France, and Lord of Ireland, send greeting and ever-increasing good fortune.

Ludlow Castle with Dinham Weir, from the South-West Samuel Scott1765 to 1769
Ludlow Castle (Wales); Samuel Scott 1765 to 1769

That we might observe the ancient customs of our realm, we recently despatched into Wales the most illustrious Arthur and Catherine, our common children. For though the opinions of many were adverse to this course by reason of the tender age of our son, yet were we unwilling to allow the Prince and Princess to be separated at any distance from each other. Thus much we wished to show unto you by this our letter, that you may understand our excessive love which we bear towards the most illustrious Lady Catherine, our common daughter, even to the danger of our own son.

But the said most illustrious lady has with her a venerable man, Alexander Geraldine, her principal chaplain, for whom we have the greatest regard, partly by reason of his virtues, shown unto us in many ways, partly because he has been the said lady’s preceptor, and for a long time your Majesties’ servant, and we doubt not that he will, in his letters, give a true report unto your Majesties of the well-being and tranquility, as well of ourselves and our realm, as of the most illustrious lady his own mistress. Wherefore we shall not a present write at greater length.

Letter Source:

Arthur, Frank; “The Youth of Henry VIII, A Narrative in Contemporary Letters”; page 24-25

Facebook no longer shows our posts to a majority of our followers - Don't want to miss out on new articles? Get notified! Subscribe to email updates from Tudors Dynasty.

Join 5,064 subscribers.

Henry VII and the Princes in the Tower

In 1483 Edward V and Richard, Duke of York disappeared from the Tower of London. They were the sons of the late Edward IV and his queen, Elizabeth Woodville.

Edward V was born 2 November 1470 in Westminster Abbey where his mother had taken sanctuary from the Lancastrians who had deposed his father during the Wars of the Roses. His brother, Richard was born 17 August 1473 in Shrewsbury, England when Edward IV ruled over England once again.

Shortly before his sudden death on 9 April 1483, King Edward IV named his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, Lord Protector of the realm for the young Edward V, who was only 12 years old.

edward5gloucesterIt was at Ludlow Castle that young Edward was notified of his father’s death and his succession to the throne – he was to travel to London immediately in preparation for his coronation. As he traveled from Ludlow, Richard (Lord Protector) met and escorted him to lodgings in the Tower of London. Edward’s brother, Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York joined him shortly after. Edward’s coronation was to be on 22 June 1483, but before the young king could be crowned his father’s marriage to his mother Elizabeth Woodville was declared invalid – making their children illegitimate and ineligible for the throne. This left an opening for their uncle Richard to take the throne himself.



PrincesThe last time the boys were seen in or around the grounds of the Tower of London was the summer of 1483 – they were never to be seen again.

A decade later, in January 1493, news of a resurrected Duke of York (in Ireland) had reached London. Just six years earlier another boy by the name of Lambert Simnel claimed to be the young Duke of York but turned out to be a pretender. The idea of another pretender must have seemed preposterous and fabricated at the time.

However, when the news of Perkin Warbeck arrived in England, Yorkist supporters jumped at the chance to back anyone who claimed to be Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York.

Henry VII took the threat of Perkin Warbeck seriously. So seriously he dispatched 200 men to Ireland. Their job was to arrest those that may be involved or cause trouble for the throne. He also sent spies to dig up the truth of the new pretender to expose him as a fraud. Any legitimate, surviving son of Edward IV would be considered a threat to Henry’s crown.

Margaret of Burgundy
Margaret of Burgundy

By end of June of the same year (1493) the danger seemed over. Nothing had happened in either Ireland or England. In Flanders, Margaret of Burgundy (aunt to the princes in the Tower) had been unable to raise funds for the army she needed to assist her nephew in taking back the throne of England for the House of York. Margaret was sister to Edward lV and insisted that Warbeck was indeed her nephew and heir to the throne of England. When Margaret continued to throw her support towards Perkin Warbeck Henry VII became angry and declared his son, Henry Tudor (future Henry VIII) as Duke of York in a magnificent ceremony. There could not be two living Dukes of York in England.

1493 was also the year Perkin Warbeck wrote a letter to Isabella of Castile looking for support while trying to convince her that he was indeed Richard. During this time period Henry VII was negotiating the marriage of his son Arthur, Prince of Wales with Katherine of Aragon – daughter of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. Resolving the issue of the pretender was of utmost importance to both parties. Ferdinand and Isabella would not want to align their daughter with a usurper.

For the next couple years Warbeck worked on a plan and tried to gain more supporters.

James_IV_King_of_Scotland
James IV of Scotland

At the beginning of 1496, James IV of Scotland had arranged and celebrated the nuptials of Warbeck and his cousin, Lady Katherine Gordon.  Surely James IV believed he was the rightful Duke of York and king of England, why else would he marry his cousin to Warbeck. Soon after the wedding Falkland Palace was used as Warbeck’s base. Together they planned to invade England in hopes of claiming the English throne as Richard IV.



In 1497, after departing Scotland, Warbeck crossed to Ireland. When he arrived he found no allies and was being pursued by the Earl of Kildare. In a country that had supported the House of York, Warbeck was sadly not welcomed, so he sailed to Devon.

“Here only a few thousand people joined him and the people of Exeter and Taunton drove him out. Warbeck fled to Beaulieu Abbey where he hoped to find sanctuary. In August 1497 he was persuaded to give himself up. As a foreigner Warbeck could not be tried for treason so would not have faced the butchery of being hung, drawn and quartered.” 

“Henry allowed Warbeck to remain at court where he could be watched. However, he foolishly tried to run away which seemed to emphasise his treachery. Warbeck was put in the stocks, humiliated and sent to the Tower. Clearly after being generous to the pretender, Henry’s patience had run out. In 1499, Warbeck was charged with trying to escape for a second time, found guilty and hanged on November 23rd 1499″.– The History Learning Site

I can only imagine how Queen Elizabeth reacted to the news. Did she believe that Warbeck was indeed her young brother, Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York?

We don’t know for certain what happened to the princes, or the people involved in their disappearance, but those involved would have certainly been aware of the true status of the boys and react accordingly. This is why I believe Henry VII was not involved. If he knew that Richard was dead, by his hand, or his orders, he would not have sent an army or spies to investigate the pretender.

So what really happened to the boys? Were they both murdered? Did Edward V die from natural causes and his brother Richard escape? Did Elizabeth Woodville send a local boy in place of her youngest son and ship Richard off to safety?

Is the mystery of the ‘Princes in the Tower’ set to be uncovered?

Edward_IV_Plantagenet
Edward IV
Perkins Warbeck
Perkin Warbeck
Elizabeth Woodville
Elizabeth Woodville