James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

April 3

Death of Prince Arthur

By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

  • Arthur was the son of Geoffry, Richard Coeur de Lion’s next brother, and should have succeeded to the English throne on the death of that king. He was murdered on April 3, 1203 by the order of his uncle John, who then became king.

  • From King John, Act IV, Scene 3.

    Scene III.Before the castle.
    Enter ARTHUR, on the walls.
    Arthur: The wall is high, and yet will I leap down:

    Good ground, be pitiful and hurt me not!

    There’s few or none do know me: if they did,

    This ship-boy’s semblance hath disguised me quite.

    I am afraid; and yet I’ll venture it.

    If I get down, and do not break my limbs,

    I’ll find a thousand shifts to get away;

    As good to die and go, as die and stay.[Leaps down.

    O me! my uncle’s spirit is in these stones:

    Heaven take my soul, and England keep my bones![Dies.