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Henry, Prince of Wales, son of James I, grandson of Mary, Queen of Scots

studio of Isaac Oliver,miniature,circa 1610


Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales (19 February 1594 – 6 November 1612) was the eldest son of King James I & VI and Anne of Denmark. His name comes from grandfathers Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley and Frederick II of Denmark.


Prince Henry was widely seen as a bright and promising heir to his father's throne. However, at the age of 18, he predeceased his father when he died of typhoid fever. Subsequently, the heirship to the English and Scottish thrones passed to his younger brother Charles.


Many places in the Colony of Virginia were named in honour of Prince Henry before and after his death.


He was born at Stirling Castle and became Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland automatically on his birth. His father placed him in the care of Alexander Erskine, Earl of Mar, and out of the care of the boy's mother, because James worried that the mother's tendency toward Catholicism might affect the son. Although the child's removal caused enormous tension between Anna and James, Henry remained under the care of Mar's family until 1603, when James became King of England and his family moved south.[1]


His tutor until he went to England was Sir George Lauder of The Bass, a Privy Counsellor — described as the King's "familiar councillor"[2] — and he was also tutored in music by Alfonso Ferrabosco the younger.The king "much preferred the role of schoolmaster than that of father", and wrote texts for the schooling of his offspring. James directed that Henry's household "should rather imitate a College than a Court",[3] or, as Sir Thomas Chaloner wrote in 1607, His Highness's household [...] was intended by the King for a courtly college or a collegiate court"[4] In 1605, Henry entered Magdalen College, Oxford, where the witty, outgoing, popular young man became interested in sports. His other interests included naval and military affairs, and national issues, about which he often disagreed with his father. He also disapproved with the way his father conducted the royal court, disliked Robert Carr, a favorite of his father, and esteemed Sir Walter Ralegh, wishing him released from the Tower of London.[1]


The prince's popularity rose so high that it threatened his father. Relations between the two could be tense and on occasion surfaced in public. At one point, they were hunting near Royston when James I criticized his son for lacking enthusiasm for the chase, and Henry initially moved to strike his father with a cane but rode off. Most of the hunting party then followed the son.[3]


"Upright to the point of priggishness, he fined all who swore in his presence", according to Charles Carlton, a biographer of Charles I, who described Henry as an "obdurate Protestant".[3] In addition to the alms box that Henry forced swearers to contribute to, he made sure his household attended church services. His religious views were influenced by the clerics in his household who were largely from a tradition of politicized Calvinism. To his preachers, Henry listened humbly, attentively and regularly to the sermons preached to his household, and once told his chaplain, Richard Milbourne, that he esteemed most the preachers with an attitude that suggested, "Sir, you must hear me diligently: you must have a care to observe what I say."[4]


Henry is said to have disliked his younger brother, Charles, and teased him. Yet there is only one surviving anecdote between the two: When Charles was nine years of age, Henry snatched off the hat of a bishop and put it on the younger child's head, then told his younger brother that when he became king he would make Charles Archbishop of Canterbury, and then Charles would have a long robe to hide his ugly rickety legs. Charles stamped on the cap and had to be dragged off in tears.


Following his father's accession to the throne of England in 1603, he became automatically Duke of Cornwall, and was invested Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester in 1610, thus uniting the six automatic and two traditional Scottish and English titles held by heirs-apparent to the throne(s) ever since that date.


As a young man, Henry showed great promise and was beginning to be active in leadership matters. He was a friend of Sir Walter Ralegh. Among his activities, he was responsible for the reassignment of Sir Thomas Dale to the Virginia Company of London's struggling colony in North America.


He died from typhoid fever at the age of 18. (The diagnosis can be made with reasonable certainty from written records of the post-mortem examination.) Henry was buried in Westminster Abbey. Prince Henry's death was widely regarded as a tragedy for the nation, some may consider prophetic.


According to Charles Colton, "Few heirs to the English throne have been as widely and deeply mourned as Prince Henry." His body lay in state at St. James's Palace for four weeks as his father collected money for an extravagant funeral on December 7, when over a thousand people walked in the mile-long cortege to Westminster Abbey to hear the two-hour sermon delivered by the Archbishop of Canterbury. As Henry's body was lowered into the ground, his chief servants broke their staves of office at the grave. An insane man ran naked through the mourners, yelling that he was the boy's ghost.[3]


Charles immediately fell ill after Henry's death, but was the chief mourner at the funeral, which James I (detesting funerals) refused to attend.[3]


Upon his death, all of Henry's automatic titles passed to his younger brother, Charles, who, until then, had lived in Henry's shadow – Charles was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester four years later. Charles was not as well-regarded as Henry had been, and after he assumed the throne following the death of his father in 1625 as King Charles I, his reign was marked by controversies, most notably conflicts with the English Parliament. Following several years of the English Civil War, he was tried and convicted of treason and was beheaded in 1649.

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Taken on February 19, 2009