On the New Year’s Day 1511, Queen Katherine gave birth to a son – he would be called Henry, Duke of Cornwall. His birth was greatly celebrated by his parents and the kingdom for England and Henry had an heir. Unfortunately, the Prince would only live for 52 short days. In this article we see quotes from Hall’s Chronicles and Letters and Papers that both refer to the birth, and the death, of the sweet young prince, “little Prince Hal.”
Birth of a Prince
This blurb from Hall’s Chronicles discusses the Queen (Katherine of Aragon) taking to her birthing chamber and that is why the King spent Christmas at Richmond Palace. It says that upon the new year the Queen gave birth to a Prince which caused great celebrations in the realm. It goes on to discuss the preparation for the christening as well. It mentions the godfathers as the Archbishop of Canterbury (William Warham) and the Earl of Surrey (Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk). As far as godmother it lists Katherine of York, Countess of Devon who was the daughter of Edward IV and wife of William Courteney, 1st Earl of Devon.
It is to be noted that at this tyme the Quene was great with childe, and shortly after this pastyme, she toke her chamber at Richemond, for the whiche cause the kynge kept his Christmas there. And on Newyeres day, the first day of January, the Quene was delivered of a Prince to the great gladess of the realme, for the honour of whom, fyers were made, and divers vessels with wyne, set for such as woulde take thereof in certayne streates in London, and generall processions thereupon to laude God. As touchynge the preparacion of the Prince’s christening. I overpasse, whiche was honorablie done, whose godfathers at the font were the Archbishop of Centerbury, and the erle of Surrey. Godmother the lady Katheryne Countesse of Devonsire, daughter of kynge Edward the foarth. (Hall’s Chronicle; pg 515)
Little Prince Hal’s christening was four days after his birth – why, I’m not sure. I’m assuming it took time to put together such a grand ceremony and they felt he was a healthy child so it would be okay to have a delay in the christening. This blurb was taken from Letters and Papers and in it they state King Louis XII as a godfather along with William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury. Instead of Katherine of York, Countess of Devon it lists the godmother as Margaret of Austria, Duchess of Savoy. Historian David Starkey only lists King Louis XII of France and Margaret of Austria, Duchess of Savoy as the young prince’s godparents. So, I wonder why Hall lists names incorrectly, as well as in Letters in Papers?
“The christening of Prince Henry, first son of our sovereign lord King Henry the VIIIth.”
On New Year’s Day, Wednesday, Dominical letter E., 1 Jan., about _(blank) a.m., 1510, 2 Hen. VIII., at Richmond in Sowthrey, was born Prince Henry, whose christening was deferred till Sunday 5 Jan., when from the Hall to the Friars was made, with barriers and rails, a way 24 ft. wide strewn with rushes, after being new-gravelled. All the south side of the way was “hangen” with cloth of arras, and near the Friars both sides were so hung, as was the body of the church. Godfathers were the French King Loys de Valoys and the Abp. of Canterbury, Warham. Godmother Margaret duchess of Savoy. “At the conformacion the Earl of Arrundell.” My lord of Winchester was deputy for the French King and the Countess of Surrey for the Duchess. The French King gave a salt, 51 oz., and a cup 48½ oz., of fine gold; and to the Lady Mistress a chain worth 30l. and to the midwife 10l.
(‘Henry VIII: January 1511’, in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 1, 1509-1514, ed. J S Brewer (London, 1920), pp. 369-377.)
Death of a Prince
…After this great joy came sorowfull chaunce, for the young Prince, which was borne upon Neweyeres daye last past, upon the xxii daye of February, being then the eve of sainet Mathy, departed this world at Rychemonde, and from thense was caryed to Westmynster, and buried. (Hall’s Chronicle; pg 519)
The kyng lyke a wyse prynce, toke this dolorous chaunce wonderous wysely, and the more to comfort the Quene, he dissimuled the matter, and made no great mourning outwardely: but the Quene lyke a natural woman, made much lamentation, how be it, by the kynges good persuasion and behaviour, her sorrow was mytigated, but not shortlye. (Hall’s Chronicle; pg 519)