The death of Prince Henry and the Succession Crisis of 1612-1614

Four hundred years ago last November a succession crisis hit England and Scotland, when the heir to the throne, Prince Henry, died from typhoid fever. James VI & I was left with one surviving son: Charles, Duke of York, who would become Charles I. Charles was a weak and sickly child, and many felt he would not survive long.

The full story of the succession crisis is revealed in our latest ‘Explore‘ article from Dr Andrew Thrush, which you can read on our website here.

The turmoil the death of an heir could cause in this period is clear from Andrew’s article, and of course it is very hard not to wonder how British history would be different if Henry had survived and succeeded to the throne instead of his brother. Prince Henry is currently the focus of an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery: ‘The Lost Prince: The Life and Death of Henry Stuart‘. You still have time to catch it before it closes on 13 January.

As it’s January, when reading Andrew’s article I was also struck by how the succession crisis came to an end – due to the ‘dramatic improvements in Charles’s physical fitness’. Charles developed a ‘steely determination’ to improve his health and began running around the grounds of St James’s Palace. I’m afraid I suspect that Charles’s determination to keep fit lasted longer than some of ours will this January!


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