Baby Arthur May Not Get A Happy Ending On 'The White Princess'

by Anna Rose Iovine

If it seems that fifteenth century royals were obsessed with having heirs, it's probably because they were. Due to the uncertainty in England between the ruling houses after the War of the Roses, giving birth to an heir was one way to secure the throne for at least another generation. This was seen on The White Princess, where Henry and his mother, Margaret, were preoccupied with Elizabeth giving birth to a son. On Sunday's episode, she gave birth to their first child: Arthur. So what happens to Elizabeth and Henry's baby on The White Princess? He never became the King of England.

Arthur, Prince of Wales, was born in 1486. Since the marriage between Elizabeth and Henry was supposed to signal the end of the war between their families, the birth of their first child was taken very seriously. Before Arthur was even two years old, Henry was discussing how his political life would unfold; he set up Arthur's marriage with Catherine of Aragon. Catherine was the daughter of famed Spanish royalty Ferdinand and Isabella. By securing this marriage, Henry forged a relationship between the two nations. Less than five months after their wedding, though, Arthur passed away at 15 years old.


When Elizabeth gave birth to Arthur on The White Princess, she mentioned to Maggie that the child was "cursed," as was all of Henry's future family line. There is no evidence, though, that the real Elizabeth felt this fear about her son. The real Arthur apparently died of a mysterious "sweating sickness." In 2002, archeologists opened the prince's grave in attempts to solve the 500 year old secret. While some believed his death to be a result of foul play, most believe it was a disease, according to The Telegraph.

Arthur's sickness may have been linked to what happened to Edward VI 50 years later; Edward also passed away as a teenager. If this is the case, it may have been a genetic condition. After Arthur's death, what happened to England is pretty well known: his brother, Henry VIII, married Catherine of Aragon. When his father passed away in 1509, Henry took over the throne to become an infamous ruler (with many, many wives). While The White Princess probably won't go that far into history, the audience can expect to see Arthur's early years depicted on the series. Viewers will have to see whether it will play out exactly like history — discussions of marriage during his toddler years and all.