Friday, July 17, 2015

The Death of Prince Edmund Tudor

Before the death of Prince Arthur gave us a history that includes Henry VIII. Long before that Henry went through six wives in his quest for a quiver of sons. Elizabeth of York and Henry VII lost their third son (sixth child), Edmund, when he was just over one year old.

By the time Edmund died on June 19th, 1500, Henry and Elizabeth had already lost one child, the Princess Elizabeth in 1495. Little Elizabeth, who I refer to as Eliza in Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen, was named for her maternal grandmother. Elizabeth Woodville died while her daughter was in confinement for little Eliza, so her death would have been particularly poignant.

Edmund's death was no easier on the Tudor parents. They had traveled to Calais as London was plagued, once again, by the sweating sickness. Thinking that their children were safely tucked away with attentive nurses and servants in the English countryside, Henry and Elizabeth's greatest fear was likely for their eldest, Arthur, who may have already been showing signs of weakness caused by the tuberculosis that would kill him two years later.

In my book, the death of Edmund has a significant effect on Henry and Elizabeth's relationship, especially because it comes just months after Henry finally gave in to various pressures and ordered the executions of Edward of Warwick and Perkin Warbeck. Edward was Elizabeth's cousin and had been imprisoned for over half of his life.

Did his execution and Edmund's death drive a wedge between the previously happy Tudor couple? We can only guess, but you can read my take on events in Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen.


  1. I personally don't think it did. They appeared to be a close and united front as always at Arthur's wedding and displayed touching closeness at Arthur's death. They were still traveling/residing together and giving each other gifts during this time.(She embroidered his garter mantle personally in early 1502). She was rumored to be pregnant in 1500 so it's likely that Henry was still openly visiting her (if he had stopped going to her bedchamber it may have been commented on as it was with Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon). Elizabeth seemed to be just as eager for the Spanish alliance as Arthur was so I think she would have understood that it was a difficult choice between Warwick and the future of their dynasty. The only time there may have been a distance between them in my opinion was when she went to Wales alone (she and Henry were residing together at Woodstock but she then went to Wales alone) when previously she and Henry seemed to spend almost all the time together. But that equally could have been just needed some personal time away from court after the death of her son. If she had merely wanted to be away from Henry she had a ton of residences to chose from. I think she was sad and in poor health and just wanted some time for quiet reflection. She became sick on the trip and Henry went to join her later on and they appear to have been on good terms at the time of her death.
    Sorry for the long comment, I really like these two and their relationship :)

    1. No need to apologize! I appreciate you comment and your interest in Henry and Elizabeth. They do seem particularly devoted to each other for a couple of this time period. If they experienced any of the marital problems that are common for parents who lose a child, I expect that they worked their way back to each other. We do know that they comforted each other and decided to have another child after Arthur's death, so they clearly had a strong relationship.

  2. i agree with the previous anon comment. nothing tends to point that Henry and Elizabeth's relationship 'suffered' some kind of impact after Edmund or Warwick's death. Elizabeth knew the necessity of Arthur's union, and knew the threat that Warwick was for it. Maybe she was not very pleased by the death of her cousin, but that she could resent it and take this against Henry is ridiculous. As for the loss of their child, they always have appeared supportive of each other.
    i was waiting for your book, but... well, AGAIN, i think i will be disapointed. why always adding rift and conflict into what looked like a very strong and happy couple? maybe it is not interesting enough sadly...

    1. I agree that Henry and Elizabeth were a happy couple, particularly supportive of one another. Any thoughts on how they worked through the deaths of their children is pure speculation other than the evidence we have of them comforting each other after Arthur's death. If they experienced any of the typical marriage trauma that accompanies the loss of a child, it is clear that they were able to work their way through it. As with all happy marriages, they were sure to have their ups and downs. Thanks for commenting.