It struck me this morning of how as we entered the Renaissance a series of tragedies shock the Royal Families of both England and Spain, causing major consequences for both and changing history.
In England we saw the deaths of many of the children of Henry VII and his wife, Elizabeth of York. Princess Elizabeth Tudor (second daughter) died aged three in September 1895; Edmund, Duke of Somerset died in June 1500 aged one; Arthur, Prince of Wales died aged 15 in April 1502; Queen Elizabeth of York died of childbed complications along with her daughter, Katherine in February 1503. What did this mean for the King? He had only one son, Henry (VIII), this left the crown unsteady. If Henry died as suddenly as Arthur had he would have no one to succeed him, ending the Tudor dynasty and clearing a path for the descendants of George, Duke of Clarence or of Edward IV, all of whom had equal claims to the throne. The York alliance was broken with the death of Elizabeth. It was the alliance that kept the claimants of the House of York happy. Now there could be more wars. And without Elizabeth, there could be no more heirs lest he remarry. Finding a suitable bride could take years.
In Spain, the only son of the formidable Ferdinand and Isabella, Juan, Prince of Asturias, died in October 1497 aged nineteen, leaving a pregnant wife, Archduchess Margaret of Austria. She gave birth to a stillborn daughter. In 1498 the eldest daughter and heir presumptive of Ferdinand and Isabella died aged twenty-seven in childbirth. Her son gave hope to Iberia. Heir to Portugal, Castile and Aragon, he carried hopes of uniting the whole of Iberia. He died aged just one in 1500. Due to Salic Law in Aragon, no woman could take the throne. Ferdinand had no male, legitimate children. This was a major cause of the later squabbles between the Hapsburgs and the Trastamarans. The eldest surviving child of Ferdinand and Isabella, Juana (‘the Mad’) was declared mad as Ferdinand and her husband, Philip, bickered over her regency. Spain would later be taken by Juana’s son, the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V and Spain fell under Hapsburg control from then on.