Henry VIII - A Malnourished King?
Almost four and a half centuries have passed since Henry VIII took to the grave secrets of an illness that changed his personality from 'one of the goodliest men that lived in his time' to Dickens's description of him as 'a blot of blood and grease upon the History of England'. So many profound physical and emotional changes manifested themselves upon Henry during the last decade of his life, that his illness has been the subject of numerous hypotheses published in the past century.
In 1888, A.S. Currie was the first to suggest that Henry VIII suffered from syphilis – a belief still being taught in some history classes. Currie based his assertions on the luckless obstetric histories of Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn and his work was supported by two other medical writers, James Rae and C. MacLaurin. Soon it was the universal belief that the king had succumbed to syphilitic disease.