Advertisement

The head that wears the crown: Henry VIII and traumatic brain injury

Published:February 05, 2016DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jocn.2015.10.035

      Highlights

      • The transformation of Henry VIII from an affable youth to a ruthless and tyrannical man has invited many often unsatisfactory explanations.
      • Henry VIII suffered from recurrent head traumas during sporting activities, the worst episode of which was in 1536 when he was unconscious for 2 hrs.
      • In time he suffered from amnesia, impulse control, sociopathy, depression, headaches, insomnias and possibly low testosterone.

      Abstract

      Henry VIII of England is one of the most controversial figures in European history. He was born on 28 June 1491 as the second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York and became the heir to the English throne after his elder brother died prematurely. A contradictory picture of Henry’s character emerges from history: the young Henry was a vigorous, generous and intelligent king who saw early military and naval successes. In contrast, in his later years he became cruel, petty and tyrannical. His political paranoia and military misjudgements are in direct contrast to his earlier successes and promise. Several hypotheses have been put forward regarding his transformation from a renaissance king to a later medieval tyrant, including endocrinopathies, psychiatric illnesses and traumatic brain injury. In this paper we examine the historical evidence linking the change in Henry’s personality and health problems to traumatic brain injury. To our knowledge this is the first systematic neurological study of traumatic brain injury in Henry VIII.

      Keywords

      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Subscribe:

      Subscribe to Journal of Clinical Neuroscience
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect

      References

        • Hutchinson R.
        Young Henry: The rise of Henry VIII.
        Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London2011
        • Hutchinson R.
        The last days of Henry VIII: conspiracy, treason and heresy at the court of the dying tyrant.
        Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London2005
        • Lipscomb S.
        1536: the year that changed Henry VIII.
        Lion, Oxford2009
        • Chamberlin F.C.
        The private character of Henry the Eighth.
        Washburn, New York1931
        • Wilson D.
        In the Lion’s court: power, ambition, and sudden death in the reign of Henry VIII.
        St. Martin’s Press, United Kingdom2014
      1. Spain: October 1507.
        in: Bergenroth G.A. Calendar of state papers, Spain, volume 1, 1485-1509. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London1862: 433-441
        • Keynes M.
        The personality and health of King Henry VIII (1491-1547).
        J Med Biogr. 2005; 13: 174-183
        • Brinch O.
        The medical problems of Henry VIII.
        Centaurus. 1958; 5: 339-369
      2. Venice: May 1515.
        in: Brown R. Calendar of state papers relating to English affairs in the archives of Venice, volume 2, 1509-1519. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London1867: 242-246
      3. Henry VIII: April 1529, 1-5.
        in: Brewer J.S. Letters and papers, foreign and domestic, Henry VIII volume 4. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London1875: 2376-2385
        • Chalmers C.R.
        • Chaloner E.J.
        500 years later: Henry VIII, leg ulcers and the course of history.
        J R Soc Med. 2009; 102: 514-517
      4. Henry VIII: March 1544, 21-25.
        in: Gairdner J. Brodie R.H. Letters and papers, foreign and domestic, Henry VIII, volume 19 Part 1. His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1903, London1903: 122-141
        • Ashrafian H.
        Henry VIII’s obesity following traumatic brain injury.
        Endocrine. 2012; 42: 218-219
        • Barrett N.R.
        King Henry the Eighth.
        Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 1973; 52: 216-233
        • Stride P.
        • Lopes Floro K.
        Henry VIII, McLeod syndrome and Jacquetta’s curse.
        J R Coll Physicians Edinb. 2013; 43: 353-360
        • Whitley C.B.
        • Kramer K.
        A new explanation for the reproductive woes and midlife decline of Henry VIII.
        Historical J. 2010; 53: 827-848
      5. Hall E. The union of the two noble and illustre famelies of Lancastre and Yorke. London; 1809.

      6. Henry VIII: March 1536, 1-10.
        in: Gairdner J Letters and papers, foreign and domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 10. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London1887: 161-181
        • Stuss D.T.
        Traumatic brain injury: relation to executive dysfunction and the frontal lobes.
        Curr Opin Neurol. 2011; 24: 584-589
        • Fife T.D.
        • Giza C.
        Posttraumatic vertigo and dizziness.
        Semin Neurol. 2013; 33: 238-243
        • Tanriverdi F.
        • Kelestimur F.
        Pituitary dysfunction following traumatic brain injury: clinical perspectives.
        Neuropsychiatry Dis Treat. 2015; 11: 1835-1843
      7. Henry VIII: August 1536, 1-5.
        in: Letters and papers, foreign and domestic, Henry VIII, volume 11. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London1888: 90-103
      8. Henry VIII: August 1536, 6-10.
        in: Letters and papers, foreign and domestic, Henry VIII, volume 11. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London1888: 103-114
      9. Henry VIII: August 1540, 1-10.
        in: Gairdner J. Brodie H. Letters and papers, foreign and domestic, Henry VIII, volume 15. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London1896: 481-488
      10. Spain: January 1531, 11-20.
        in: Gayangos P.D. Calendar of state papers, Spain, volume 4 part 2. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London1882: 17-31
      11. Henry VIII: January 1531, 1-15.
        in: Gairdner J. Letters and papers, foreign and domestic, Henry VIII, volume 5. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London1880: 10-22
      12. Henry VIII: May 1536, 16-20.
        in: Gairdner J. Brodie R.H. Letters and papers, foreign and domestic, Henry VIII, volume 10. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1887: 371-391
      13. Henry VIII: July 1540, 1-10.
        in: Gairdner J. Brodie R.H. Letters and papers, foreign and domestic, Henry VIII. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London1896: 412-436
        • Hetherington R.J.
        Health of King Henry VIII.
        Br Med J. 1978; 2 (956-956)