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Kings and Brain Damage (not to mention politicians)

For discussions of historical fiction. Threads that do not relate to historical fiction should be started in the Chat forum or elsewhere on the forum, depending on the topic.
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Telynor
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Post by Telynor » Sun November 16th, 2008, 9:17 pm

[quote=""MrsMorland""]Very interesting! Wasn't he also suffering from syphilis? I know I've read theories about his mental faculties being affected by that.[/quote]

I've heard a lot about the syphilis angle, and it has possibilities, but I don't think that he had it. He stayed somewhat together until that last illness, and given how badly syphilis will ravage the brain in the tertiary stage (read up on Lord Randolph Churchill for an interesting documented case of syphilis in the nineteenth century), I suspect that he didn't have it. My guess is that Henry had diabetes, given his erratic temper, that ulcerated leg, and the obesity.

For a healthy, athletic man, it must have have been hell for Henry to become trapped in his own body like that, and considering the mood swings that diabetes can put you through, and that there wasn't really any way to cure it, not to mention the Tudor diet of plenty of alcohol and meat, it was a miracle that Henry lasted as long as he did. Of course, there really isn't any way of knowing, but it does make for interesting conjecture.

Helen_Davis

Post by Helen_Davis » Mon November 17th, 2008, 2:55 am

Henry was a diabetic?

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Telynor
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Post by Telynor » Mon November 17th, 2008, 5:51 am

[quote=""Andromeda_Organa""]Henry was a diabetic?[/quote]

No one really knows what was wrong with Henry, other than his obesity towards the end of his life. There's been a lot of conjecture as to what was the cause of his erratic temper and there's been theories from he was just plain cuckoo (doubtful), to Michelle's mention of head injuries, to some sort of VD that he picked up from Mary Boleyn, to a recent thought that I read that he might have had diabetes. He certainly fits the diabetic profile, especially with that leg injury that never properly healed -- goodness, just the infection from that would have made anyone feel rotten and downright mean at times. Some have pointed to the string of miscarriages that Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn had as a sign that he had syphilis, but I think that's a theory that was cooked up by various Victorian scholars. Who knows what the reality was.

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Alaric
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Post by Alaric » Mon November 17th, 2008, 9:12 am

[quote=""SonjaMarie""]I think some of the mentally impaired must've come from all the inbreeding the royals did, it certainly didn't help any!

SM[/quote]

Indeed, just look at the mess that the Spanish Hapsburg's became when the King's selection of consorts consisted of either his first cousin or his niece ...

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Post by donroc » Mon November 17th, 2008, 12:08 pm

[quote=""Alaric""]Indeed, just look at the mess that the Spanish Hapsburg's became when the King's selection of consorts consisted of either his first cousin or his niece ...[/quote]

Yes, they began to look increasingly jawish. :D
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Mon November 17th, 2008, 3:22 pm

The inbreeding didn't much apply to Henry VIII. That started a little later. Also, since both Syphilis and Gonorrhea came from the New World, (remember, Columbus 1492, Henry died 1547) it would be surprising if a disease so intimately passed would have made it quite so far as royalty yet, especially as Henry had relatively few mistresses, as royals go, and was apparently picky about where he sowed his seed even as a young man.

On the head injury side, type 4 ADHD (impulsiveness, sudden rages, along with the short attention span) is caused by lower temporal lobe damage, which can happen when the brain is bounced around inside its bony case.

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LCW
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Post by LCW » Mon November 17th, 2008, 4:30 pm

[quote=""MLE""]On the head injury side, type 4 ADHD (impulsiveness, sudden rages, along with the short attention span) is caused by lower temporal lobe damage, which can happen when the brain is bounced around inside its bony case.[/quote]

This makes tons of sense! It's scary how the fate of so many people rested on men who were possibly not quite right in the head! :eek:
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Telynor
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Post by Telynor » Mon November 17th, 2008, 6:18 pm

[quote=""donroc""]Yes, they began to look increasingly jawish. :D [/quote]

The worst of it appears with Charles V -- dining with him must not have been a pretty sight! And it was about a hundred and fifty years later that the Spanish Hapsburg line dies out with a very imbelic king and they import one of Louis XIV's grandsons to take over. Those have managed to hang on, and they appear to have gotten some sense and started to look farther afield for wives.

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Post by SonjaMarie » Mon November 17th, 2008, 6:31 pm

I'm reading a book on Henri II, Diane de Poitiers and Catherine De' Medici, and in it they described a typical dinner with Charles V, eeewww GROSS! He may have gotten the short end of the stick in the facial problems, but he didn't seem to be all that stupid, but I haven't read a book about him so I don't know much beyond what I've read in other books about him.

SM
Last edited by SonjaMarie on Mon November 17th, 2008, 8:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Volgadon » Mon November 17th, 2008, 10:59 pm

I would have thought that growing up in an atmosphere reeking with death, power over life and death, megalomania, etc., would have more of an effect than anything physical.
Look at Ivan IV, When he was a very young child he saw someone being hacked to death in his bedroom.

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