Reply Sun 27 Jun, 2010 08:08 pm
The obesity of Henry VIII is well known, although he was once a handsome and athletic man.

Some historians have theorized that more than just his waist changed as Henry grew older and faced some serious injuries. It is thought that a jousting accident brought about a change in his personality. This recalled the famous accident suffered by a Vermont railway worker in the 19th C. A rod went through the skull of Phineas Gage, changing his personality in the way that the jousting accident seems to have changed Henry.

Here is The Independent's story and review of the televised documentary on Henry.

Henry VIII became the tyrannical monster remembered by history because of a personality change following a serious jousting accident, according to a new historical documentary.

After the accident – just before he became estranged from the second of his six wives, Anne Boleyn – the king, once sporty and generous, became cruel, vicious and paranoid, his subjects began talking about him in a new way, and the turnover of his wives speeded up.

The accident occurred at a tournament at Greenwich Palace on 24 January 1536 when 44-year-old Henry, in full armour, was thrown from his horse, itself armoured, which then fell on top of him. He was unconscious for two hours and was thought at first to have been fatally injured.

But, although he recovered, the incident, which ended his jousting career, aggravated serious leg problems which plagued him for the rest of his life, and may well have caused an undetected brain injury which profoundly affected his personality, according to the History Channel documentary Inside the Body of Henry VIII. The programme focuses on the king's medical problems which grew worse in his later years, especially his ulcerated legs and his obesity: measurements of his armour show that, between his 20s and his 50s, the 6ft 1in monarch's waist grew from 32in to 52in, his chest expanded from 39in to 53in, and, by the time of his death in 1547 at the age of 56, he is likely to have weighed 28 stone.

Robert Hutchinson, a biographer of Henry; Catherine Hood, a doctor; and the historian Lucy Worsley, who is chief curator of Britain's Historic Royal Palaces, offer a picture of a sovereign eventually overwhelmed by health problems by the time of his death. His doctors recorded that he had badly ulcerated legs, was unable to walk, his eyesight was fading, and he was plagued by paranoia and melancholy.

However, Henry had started out with excellent health as a young man, being universally admired for his manly physique. An ambassador at the Tudor court reported: "His Majesty is the most handsomest potentate I have ever set eyes on. Above the usual height with an extremely fine calf to his leg and a round face so very beautiful it would become a pretty woman."

He may have had a bout of smallpox at the age of 23, but the experts speculate that his real medical problems began at the age of 30 when he appears to have contracted malaria, which is thought to have returned throughout his life. They were intensified by two factors: open sores on his legs and sporting injuries.

The sores – varicose ulcers, which began on his left leg when he was 36, and later affected his right – may have been caused by the restrictive garters he wore to show off his calves. They never healed, and increasingly restricted his mobility.

Henry also suffered various injuries because of his well-known love of sports – he excelled at pursuits such as archery, wrestling and real tennis, and, playing the latter game he seriously injured his foot.

But it was jousting – two armoured horsemen charging at each other with wooden lances in "the lists" – which proved the most dangerous. His first serious accident occurred in 1524 when he failed to lower the visor on his helmet and was hit by his opponent's lance just above the right eye, after which he constantly suffered from migraines.

Jousting nearly killed him 12 years later. The fall at Greenwich left him "speechless" for two hours, and Anne Boleyn, the woman for whom he had divorced his original queen, Katherine of Aragon, was told that he would die – the shock of which news, she said, caused her to miscarry the child she was expecting. The miscarried baby was male, and it was immediately after this that Henry told Anne they would clearly never have male children together, and turned against her. Less than six months later Anne had been executed and Henry had married the third of his six wives, Jane Seymour.

But the jousting accident may have affected his whole personality, the experts suggest. "We posit that his jousting accident of 1536 provides the explanation for his personality change from sporty, promising, generous young prince, to cruel, paranoid and vicious tyrant," Lucy Worsley says. "From that date the turnover of the wives really speeds up, and people begin to talk about him in quite a new and negative way. "After the accident he was unconscious for two hours; even five minutes of unconsciousness is considered to be a major trauma today." Henry may have suffered a brain injury, Dr Worsley says. "Damage to the frontal lobe of the brain can perfectly well result in personality change."

What is beyond doubt is that the end of his jousting combined with his leg ulcers to restrict his movement and Henry, who had a large appetite anyway, began to put on weight rapidly. The programme reconstructs his diet, suggesting he may have eaten up to 13 dishes a day, the majority comprising meat such as lamb, chicken, beef, game, rabbit, and a variety of birds like peacock and swan, and he may have drunk 10 pints of ale a day as well as wine, as water was unsafe.

Henry, the programme says, "became a comfort-eating paranoid recluse – a 28 stone man-mountain."

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OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Jun, 2010 10:31 pm
That 's very plausible.
He led an extremely interesting, eventful life.
This shoud be a good thread.





David
xris
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 04:14 am
I read an equally convincing theory that he had scurvy. His royal servants expected him to eat just meat with very little fruit and vegetables, the main cause of scurvy. Wounds wound fail to heal and even old wounds would bleed constantly and turn septic. Mental problems with wild rages and paranoia . It has been noted his mood became slightly better in summer when fresh fruit was available. His nose became disjointed and appears broken another sign of bone malformation associated with scurvy. He was once thought to have the pox because of medical problems but none of his wives or lovers ever showed signs of this illness. We need to dig him up.
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 07:57 am
Hi, xris,

Your nom d'email is not familiar to me. How are you?

The scurvy theory is interesting. I once heard a medical doctor deliver a paper at a Celtic Studies forum on the "monstrous women" who appear in Medieval stories. Their shins are always black and malformed. Their hair was dry and awry. Their gums were swollen (although I suspect that was common). The doctor suggested that was a description of scurvy.

Henry's ulcerated leg was famous. While there are recorded incidents of jousting injuries, the fact that his leg never healed also points to scurvy. It also brings us back to the "black" shins of the monstrous women. They possibly could have had injuries relating to keeping animals. Sheep herding was common in Ireland and shepherds practiced transhumance, following their herds to summer pastures. The shins might be black due to clotted blood.

There is no reason why Henry might not have suffered from multiple health problems.

While it has always been seen that his personality changed over time, I thought it was due to personal frustration . . . the desire for an heir, his arguments with the See of Rome, the pressures from all sides of the religious issue, staving off the ambitions of Spain, the Holy Roman Empire and France . . . which, in Henry's case would have been enough to drive anyone around the bend.

When you add debilitating injuries to his strong ego (not necessarily an unfounded ego), his power, the pressures that were put upon him and a tradition of kingly display, you have a recipe for disaster.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 11:54 am
@plainoldme,
I'm fine thanks..I can understand his state of mind but his medical symptoms appear to point to dietary regal inadequacy. Many in the royal family suffered through this expectations of the court, that they ate like kings. Constipation was bane of the royal butt. With no roughage included in their diet , a medical potioneer was required to serve him with a laxative, to help him with his closeted needs. Eat your greens young prince and your subjects will admire your demeanour. Its amazing to think that many had their head chopped of for the lack of a cabbage. My head, my head , bring the king a salad. But no more red wine this night for I.
0 Replies
 
talk72000
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 12:06 pm
@plainoldme,
I recently saw a documentary on Henry VIII and his six wives. He must have loved Catherine of Aragon as his last two wives were named Catherine.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 12:21 pm
@talk72000,
Is that why he called his daughters Mary and Elizabeth? I dont think he loved any as much as his desire for a male heir. Love was a romantic notion associated with sexual desire and regal necessity. A man capable of murdering the mother of his child is not capable of love, as we know love.
talk72000
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 12:51 pm
@xris,
He had a son too, Edward, I think who died from TB at 15 then the Regent had someone else, a cousin, take the throne but the people loved Mary even though she was Catholic and they rallied around her.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 01:26 pm
@talk72000,
Bloody Mary, was a tyrant who executed her fathers priests. Elizabeth was the peoples saviour. One could say our greatest sovereign , a feeble women with the heart of king. God bless our Bess.
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 01:28 pm
@talk72000,
It's possible that they loved her because she was Catholic. Then she started chopping heads off and putting them on spikes for folks to oogle at if they didn't revert to Catholicism. She wasn't known as "Bloody Mary" for nothing. She lost a bit of support by the time Elizabeth came along.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 01:39 pm
@JPB,
I think she may have had a certain sympathy and many craved Rome. Her frustration turned to anger and she just became another tyrant. The reformation had gone too far for her to stem the tide of change. Her bloody reprisals changed the majorities mind forever. She made martyrs of her enemy, never a good idea.
0 Replies
 
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 07:51 pm
Religion at that time was not just the Popish or Roman Catholics or practitioners of the Old Religion against the Lutherans or Reformists. Protestantism existed in many forms.

Henry's own Protestantism was relatively mild compared to the practice of both Anne Boleyn and Catherine Parr, ladies who were much more reform minded and spiritual.

The Princess Elizabeth, although personally committed to Protestantism walked a fine line during her half sister's reign and pretended to study Catholicism.
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 07:52 pm
During the Middle Ages, there were "ritual farters," who served as entertainment, which could mean that not everyone was constipated.
talk72000
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 08:11 pm
@plainoldme,
It was Anne Boleyn who started the religious revolution in the palace. She was a very intelligent young lady. She was executed because she behaved like a mistress rather than a queen. A mistress can behave a little capriciously as she has no power except in the bedroom while a queen with power must behave responsibly as she can truly embarrass the king in front of the court.

I think Henry did love Catherine of Aragon but she couldn't produce an heir. It was threatening his royal lineage so he sought to divorce her. He treated her quite well considering the situation. He married after his older brother died and even lied about the marriage consummation.
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 08:14 pm
This is from www.nellgavin.com/boleyn_facts/

The health of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn:

There are some theories about the health of Henry VIII. One was that he had scurvy because of his notoriously meat-heavy diet. Another is that he, his siblings and his offspring, suffered from diabetes. Still another was that he suffered from syphilis. His body was last exhumed in 1812 before any conclusive tests were available. However, there was an epidemic of syphilis in Europe during the 1500’s, and the symptoms of syphilis listed by The New Complete Medical and Health Encyclopedia (published by Lexicon) somewhat match the health ailments Henry VIII experienced in his lifetime. In particular, the changes in his personality and mental state from the start to the end of his reign make syphilis possible. Katherine of Aragon, his first wife, was known to have suffered from a "mysterious female ailment" that might possibly have been related to infection. In addition, infants born to infected mothers can be stillborn, die shortly after birth, or suffer health ailments that can lead to death years later. Henry VIII admittedly had some trouble fathering viable infants, and produced children with all of the aforementioned results. Syphilis is one possible cause. However, there is nothing more substantial than speculation to support this theory at the present time.

http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Studios/1344/syphilis.html superficially provides a plausible, very convincing case for diabetes and strokes. However, it is a geocities site (rather than an .edu site), the author does not identify him or herself or publish an email address, and does not provide a list of sources for the information. Consequently, I have taken it with a hefty grain of salt, and recommend that you do as well. (In other words, read it out of interest, but don't bet the house on it unless you research it further.) (Frankly, that goes for everything about the Tudors, I've found.)


While the diagnosis of diabetes and its symptoms appears to me personally to be the most likely overall (I'm ashamed to say this after my last comment, but this is based on the information contained in the above link), there is nothing to prevent a person from suffering from two or more of these ailments at once.

In addition, a novelist has the power to do with her characters whatever she wishes.

For Henry VIII, I choose syphilis .

The "sweating sickness" referred to in Threads is not bubonic plague, as was suggested on some Internet sites. Karen Lindsey noted that it was a "bizarre illness" sometimes called "the English disease" because only the English seemed to have developed no immunity toward it when it spread across Europe. Eric W. Ives wrote that it was highly contagious, frequently fatal, and may have been related to the Spanish influenza that killed millions in 1918.

Even the experts are not certain what the sweating sickness was - or is. Scientists are examining the remains of Arthur Tudor, older brother to Henry VIII, in hopes of further identifying the illness, which they suspect was the cause of his death.

Also see http://www.tudorplace.com.ar/Documents/sweating_sickness.htm for additional information, including symptoms and speculation of its cause.

Anne contracted this illness during the sweating sickness epidemic of 1528, and her sister's husband died from it. Henry was distraught while Anne was ill, but could not see her himself since he had to stay at a distance from infection. Instead, he sent his second best surgeon to attend to her (he kept his best surgeon for himself). By the time the surgeon arrived, Anne, who was always very healthy, was already on the mend.


0 Replies
 
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 08:18 pm
Suite 101 has this to say:

The death of Henry VIII occurred January 28, 1547 – in the early hours of the morning, whilst holding the hand of a cleric and not a wife. Although he had been clearly a very sick man for years, mystery shrouds the actual medical condition that caused Henry VIII’s death. Not only did the King not wish to face the prospect of his impending death,(2)but also the men surrounding Henry VIII wished to hide the true state of the King’s health from the eyes of the world as they moved all the pieces in place for the beginning of Edward’s reign; the ridding of threats to Henry VIII’s throne and dynasty continued to almost the final moments of his reign.



0 Replies
 
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 08:21 pm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J99nwRs08bU

This piece examines syphilis as the cause of Catherine of Aragon's child birth problems.
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 08:35 pm
Henry's illnesses:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7-0xDJlYUM&feature=related

Henry's diet:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbgcDxAQSgQ&NR=1

Henry's sporting injuries:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFyEfXHCZgc&feature=related
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 08:40 pm
@plainoldme,
The jousting accident reminded me immediately of Phineas Gage, the 19th C railroad worker whose skull was pierced by rod. Prior to the accident, Gage was known for his good nature and intelligence. After the accident, he became violent and pugnacious. I see Gage as being a great deal like Henry.
talk72000
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 08:45 pm
@plainoldme,
If he got knocked in the head he would have had very serious brain injuries which would really alter his behavior.
 

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