Thursday, July 16, 2009

Question from salve radix - Descriptions of Henry VIII's medical issues and examinations

I'm investigating HenryVIII for my graduation in a branch of alternative medicine, and I need to find records with description of his symptoms, as detailed as possible, physical examination ( ie. urine, etc)as well as treatment prescribed. Can anyone point me in the right direction? thanks.


kb said...

Interesting project.

Your success will depend on the nature of your library access. Your inter-library loan librarian should become your new best friend.

There is a journal article that might be of some help but it is over 50 years old- Carman, J. A. 'Henry VIII, a medical enigma.' East African Medical Journal, 31 (1954), 63-73.

There is a lot of information in the Letters & Papers of Henry VIII but you will have to hunt for it. Use the index in the various volumes to narrow your search.

There might be some good information in Furdell, Elizabeth Lane. The royal doctors, 1485-1714 : the medical personnel at the Tudor and Stuart courts. Rochester (NY) and Woodbridge: University of Rochester Press, 2001. x, 305 p.

Or - Matthews, Leslie Gerald. 'Royal apothecaries of the Tudor period.' Medical History, 8 (1964), 170-80. Publisher: Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine. ISSN 00257273.

These (except Letters & Papers) are from the Royal Historical Society Bibliographic database which until January is free on the web. You can perform your own searches at

I do not know of any comprehensive work on this subject which is exceedingly tricky as the methods of diagnosis and treatment were very different than the methods used today and therefore highly subject to personal interpretation.

Joanna said...

You could also try the Royal College of Physicians in London. They have been holding a big exhbition about Henry and his medicines this year, so may be able to help. Jo.