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Henry VIII Medical Mysteries

Title: What the HELL Happened?

Era: Tudor Period, duh!

Dates: 1491 - 1547

Summary: What the HELL happened? How did England's "Perfect Prince" descend into an odiferous and odious ogre? Let's investigate...

First up: Syphilis... such a fun word to say! Followed by Cushing's Syndrome, Kell Immunogenicity, Gout, Type II Diabetes, Myxedema, Narcissistic Behavior Disorder, Head Trauma, and Genetic Madness.

Buckle Up, Folks! We talk through each of these medical maladies to see which, if any, could explain Henry's debated mental decline and paranoia and/or his infertility (or difficulty conceiving healthy children).

Have a thought? Send us a message!

Henry VIII by Holbein the Younger

Possible sketch of Anne Boleyn by Holbein the Younger

Various renderings of Henry through the Years

Queen Mary I (formerly Princess, then Lady, then Princess Mary Tudor)


Hutchinson, Robert. “The Decline and Death of Henry VIII.” History Extra Podcast. Immediate Media: 9 Jan, 2021.

Shore, Miles F. “Henry VIII and the Crisis of .” The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, vol. 2, no. 4, 1972, pp. 359–90. JSTOR, Accessed 5 Aug. 2022.

SHREWSBURY, J. F. D. “Henry VIII: A Medical Study.” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, vol. 7, no. 2, 1952, pp. 141–85. JSTOR, Accessed 4 Aug. 2022.

Skoblo, Max, and Jack Leslau. “Health Of King Henry VIII.” The British Medical Journal, vol. 2, no. 6138, 1978, pp. 700–01. JSTOR, Accessed 5 Aug. 2022.

Stride P, Lopes Floro K. Henry VIII, McLeod syndrome and Jacquetta's curse. J R Coll Physicians Edinb. 2013;43(4):353-60. doi: 10.4997/JRCPE.2013.417. PMID: 24350322.

Warnicke, Retha M. “Sexual Heresy at the Court of Henry VIII.” The Historical Journal, vol. 30, no. 2, 1987, pp. 247–68. JSTOR, Accessed 5 Aug. 2022.

WHITLEY, CATRINA BANKS, and KYRA KRAMER. “A NEW EXPLANATION FOR THE REPRODUCTIVE WOES AND MIDLIFE DECLINE OF HENRY VIII.” The Historical Journal, vol. 53, no. 4, 2010, pp. 827–48. JSTOR, Accessed 5 Aug. 2022.

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