Sunday, October 12, 2008

Question from Elizabeth - Cause of Henry VII's death

I looked on the website, but was unable to find any information on the death of Henry VII, father of Henry VIII. Does anyone know his cause of death?

4 comments:

PhD Historian said...

Henry VII was only 52 years old when he died, and though that was fairly old for the era, many wealthy people lived to that age and beyond. John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, preached the funeral sermon and described a lingering and painful illness prior to the king's death. The precise nature of the illness will probably never be known, but was perhaps some kind of cancer.

Sara said...

I think I read somewhere that a possible cause of death was tuberculosis, but I think it was just a possible explanation on the part of the author. Sorry, I can't remember where I read it. I'm not sure if it is known for a fact what he died of.

Kathy said...

There's a book I got at Westminster Abbey called The Death of Kings. I was impressed with the medical information in the book, though some of the historical background was a bit slipshod and could have profited by a fact-checker.

It said Henry had very apparent respiratory problems for a few years before he died.

I'm always a bit wary with causes of death in the 16th century, because there seems to be a general reasoning:

quick, unexpected death: heart attack
long, lingering death: cancer
Tudor: tuberculosis

In the case of Henry VII though, I think it most like was tuberculosis, though it could have been complicated by other factors as well, such as pneumonia.

Anonymous said...

I was under the impression that King Henry II possibly died of colon cancer. Somewhere I read reports of him bleeding from the rectum and that he had suffered from a lingering and painful condition which made sitting and horseback riding very difficult. None of his physicians ever gave him a diagnosis. Towards the end, he became thin and weak, which supports a form of cancer. Colon (or prostrate) cancers would have been virtually impossible to diagnose and/or treat in the 12th century