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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.

Early life

He was born at Stirling Castlemarker 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.

His tutor until he went to England was Sir George Lauder of The Bass, a Privy Counsellor — described as the King's "familiar councillor" — 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", 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" 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.

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.

"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". 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."

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.

Prince of Wales

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.

Later life, early death, consequences

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 Abbeymarker. 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 7 December, 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.

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

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.

Literature occasioned by the prince's death


Henry's chaplain, Dr. Daniel Price, delivered a series of sermons about the young man's death. (Price borrowed from John Donne's unrelated The first Anniversary, published in 1611, and The second Anniversary, published in 1612, for some of his language and ideas.):
  • Lamentations for the death of the late illustrious Prince Henry [...] Two Sermons (1613; see 1613 in literature): "Oh, why is there not a generall thaw through-out all mankinde? why in this debashed Ayre doe not all things expire, seeing Time looks upon us with watry eues, disheveld lockes, and heavie dismall lookes; now that the Sunne is gone out of our Firmament, the ioy, the beautie, the glory of Israel is departed?"
  • Spirituall Odours to the Memory of Prince Henry. In Four of the Last Sermons Preached in St James after his Highnesse Death (Oxford, 1613; see 1613 in literature) From "Meditations of Consolation in our Lamentations": "[...] his body was so faire and strong that a soule might have been pleased to live an age in it [...] vertue and valor, beauty and chastity, armes and arts, met and kist in him, and his goodnesse lent so much mintage to other Princes, that if Xenophon were now to describe a Prince, Prince HENRY had been his Patterne. [...] He hath gon his Passover from death to life, where there is more grace and more capacity [...] where earthly bodies shalbe more celestiall, then man in his Innocency or Angels in their glory, for they could fall: Hee is there with those Patriarchs that have expected Christ on earth, longer then they have enjoyed him in heaven; He is with those holy Penmen of the holy spirit, they bee now his paterns, who were here his teachers [...]"
  • Teares Shed over Abner. The Sermon Preached on the Sunday before the Prince his funerall in St James Chappell before the body (Oxford, (1613; see 1613 in literature): "He, He is dead, who while he lived, was a perpetuall Paradise, every season that he shewd himselfe in a perpetuall spring, eavery exercise wherein he was scene a special felicity: He, He is dead before us [...] Hee, Hee is dead; that blessed Model of heaven his face is covered till the latter day, whose shining lamps his eyes in whose light there was life to the beholders, they bee ecclipsed untill the sunne give over shining. [...] He, He is dead, and now yee see this [...]"

Prose memorials

Price also wrote two prose "Anniversaries" on the death:
  • Prince Henry His First Anniversary (Oxford, 1613; see 1613 in literature): "in HIM, a glimmering light of the Golden times appeare, all lines of expectation met in this Center, all spirits of vertue, scattered into others were extracted into him [...]"
  • Another "Anniversary", published in 1614


Within a few months of the prince's death, 32 poets versified on it. In addition to those listed below, the writers included Sir Walter Ralegh (a friend), Edward Herbert, Thomas Heywood and Henry King.

These poems were published in 1612 (see 1612 in poetry):
  • Sir William Alexander, An Elegie on the Death of Prince Henrie
  • Joshua Sylvester, Lachrimae Lachrimarum; or, The Distillation of Teares Shede for the Untimely Death of the Incomparable Prince Panaretus, also includes poems in English, French, Latin and Italian by Walter Quin
  • George Wither, Prince Henries Obsequies; or, Mournefull Elegies Upon his Death

These poems and songs were published in 1613 (see 1613 in poetry):
  • Thomas Campion, Songs of Mourning: Bewailing the Untimely Death of Prince Henry, verse and music; music by Giovanni Coperario (or "Copario"), said to have been John Cooper, an Englishman
  • George Chapman, An Epicede or Funerall Song, On the Most Disastrous Death, of the Highborne Prince of Men, Henry Prince of Wales, &c., the work states "1612" but was published in 1613
  • John Davies, The Muses-Teares for the Losse of their Hope
  • William Drummond of Hawthornden, Tears on the Death of Moeliades



Both Prince Henry's Grammar Schoolmarker in Otleymarker, West Yorkshire, and Prince Henry's High Schoolmarker in Eveshammarker, Worcestershire in Englandmarker are named after him.

The developments in North America were at an important stage as Henry grew up. In the southern portion of the Colony of Virginia, a part which became now the Commonwealth of Virginiamarker in the United Statesmarker after the American Revolutionary War some years later, three important locations were named in his honor: Cape Henry, Henricus, and Henrico:

  • Sir Thomas Dale was recruited for the Virginia Colony through efforts of Prince Henry, a response to management and discipline problems with the earliest colonists. He became the High Marshall of Virginia, effectively the colony's highest ranking law enforcement officer. Dale was discouraged by unhealthy conditions at Jamestown's location, and sought a better site as a potential improved replacement for Jamestown. His progressive but ill-fated Henricus (named for Prince Henry) was established in 1612. Henricus became the major point of Henrico Cittie (sic) in 1619. It was destroyed during the Indian Massacre of 1622. The long-lost site of Henricus was rediscovered in the late 20th century, and was by then located in Chesterfield Countymarker, which itself was established in 1749. Henricus is now part of a historical park.

  • Present-day Henrico Countymarker was established by order of his younger brother, King Charles I, in 1634 as one of the original eight shires of Virginia. It is located adjacent to the state capital city of Richmondmarker, which was Henrico's county seat for several hundred years, and became separate from it as an independent city in 1871. In the 21st century, Henrico remains extant in its original (county) political form and is regarded as one of the best-managed counties in the United States. In 1992 and again in 1993, City and State magazine ranked Henrico County as the second best fiscally managed county in the United States.

Titles, styles, honours and arms


  • 19 February 1594 – 6 November 1612: The Duke of Rothesay (Earl of Carrick, Lord of the Isles)
  • 24 March 1603 – 6 November 1612: The Duke of Cornwall
  • 4 June 1610 – 6 November 1612: The Prince of Wales (Earl of Chester)



As Prince of Wales, Henry Frederick bore the arms of the kingdom, differenced by a label argent of three points.



  • J. W. Williamson, The Myth of the Conqueror: Prince Henry Stuart, a Study in 17th Century Personation (New York, AMS Press, 1978)
  • Roy Strong - Henry, Prince of Wales and England's Lost Renaissance (London, Pimlico, 1986, 2000)
  • Prince Henry Revived: Image and Exemplarity in Early Modern England, ed. Timothy Wilks (Southampton Solent University & Paul Holberton Publishing, 2007)

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