King Henry VIII is one ofhistory's most infamous kings. After a joustingaccident in 1536, he began suffering fromhorrible leg ulcers, limping his way througha decade of terrible pain in a way that could give KeyserSoze a run for his money. Let's just hope no one wasdrinking coffee near him. But could it be possiblethat a terrible leg injury was responsible forHank's foul disposition? Well, today let'sexamine Everything.
You Didn't Know AboutHenry VIII's Ulcerated Leg. But before we get started,be sure to subscribe to the Weird History channel. Then, leave a comment and let usknow what other historical eras you would like to hear about. OK, let's get hopping. [MUSIC PLAYING] Henry VIII is one of history'smost notorious figures,.
Which is why he keeps showingup in Weird History episodes. Hank was responsible for theexecution of over 57,000 people during his reign. And his revolvingdoor of wives was so infamous it fracturedthe Catholic Church and became a Broadway musical. He, uh, wasn't a great guy. But Henry wasn't alwaysa problematic monarch. Highly regarded as a youngking, Henry showed promise.
But things changed whenhe became convinced his wife, Catherine of Aragon,wouldn't be able to give him a son, an issue that becameknown as the King's Great Matter, which is a euphemismCatherine must have loved. Shortly afterward, hefell for Anne Boleyn and declared his marriagewith Catherine annulled through a series of attacksagainst Catholicism, with heavy hitters likePope Clement VII, Martin Luther, and CardinalThomas Wolsey.
Getting pulledinto the crossfire, until the Archbishop ofCanterbury, Thomas Cranmer, finally ruled in favorof the annulment. You pretty much get yourway when you're the king, but sometimes youhave to work for it. But then, three yearslater, a single event would change the courseof their entire lives. In 1536, Henry participatedin a jousting tournament. During a bout againstSir Henry Norris,.
The king missed his opponentand fell off his horse. The startled,fully armored horse then fell on top of theking, like a wrestling match at a state fair. Naturally, this knockedthe monarch unconscious. Anne, who was pregnant at thetime, saw the whole thing, and the shock of Henry's injuryand the worry that he would likely not make it outalive may have triggered her miscarriage,which would eventually.
Lead to her ultimate fate. If you watched TheTudors on Showtime, you know where this is going. Henry survived but sufferedmultiple fractures in his legs. Although he made it out alive,his entire personality changed, and those in the knowbegan referring to 1536 as the King's “annushorribilis,” his horrible year. Needing medical carein the 16th century.
Was like gambling exceptinstead of counting cards, you count scars. Medical knowledge wasn'texactly cutting edge. And antibiotics definitelywere not a thing yet. But did they still giveyou those little lollipops for behaving yourself? The king had torely on his doctors to patch him up after thehorse joust to leg accident. For their part, the royaldoctors saved Henry's life.
But as we mentioned,medicine during this period was imprecise. Though he seemed fineat first, the king developed excruciatingulcers all over his legs. The doctors tried everythingbut could do nothing to treat the seeping wounds. Oh, I hope you weren'teating while watching this. Historians note that Henry'sbehavior and personality changes for the worse shortlyafter developing these lesions.
And just six monthsafter the accident, Henry ordered the eliminationof Anne Boleyn, spurred in part by her miscarriageand trumped up via series of explosivecharges of treason and incest that were likely fabricated. He had his mainman, Thomas Cranmer, annul the marriage beforeAnne was taken out, which was thoughtful of him. Then, the day afterBoleyn's execution,.
Henry became engaged to JaneSeymour, marrying 10 days later. Seymour gave Henry a son butperished during complications from birth. And Henry, dealing with all ofthis alongside his festering ulcers, started puttingon a lot of weight. [MUSIC PLAYING] Royals have a reputationfor overeating and excess.
Henry VIII was no exception. But he was very activefor much of his life. He loved sports andparticipated whenever he could. In his 20s, Henry was 210pounds with a 32 inch waistline. That's not even big enoughto be a defensive lineman. Guess he didn't lovesports that much. But he could barely exerciseafter developing leg ulcers. And while he tried to keepup public appearances, in his private life,he knew it was bad.
Henry wrote to Thomas Howard,Third Duke of Norfolk, in a letter, “Tobe Frank with you, which you must keepto yourself, a humor has fallen into ourlegs, and the physicians advise us not to go farin the heat of the day.” So Henry indulged in eating,drinking, and terrorizing the kingdom instead. Part of Henry'splunge into the excess included writing what wascalled the Ordinances of Eltham,.
A stomach-bursting descriptionof what the King expected to eat every day, which includedaround 20 gallons of beer and wine, all manners of ediblebirds from pheasant to quail, and the simply statedbutter and eggs. He basically ate his way throughan entire Cheesecake Factory menu every day. His behavior ravaged his bodyover the course of a decade. By 1546, Henrygained so much weight he had to be transportedin wooden chairs.
And he could nolonger lift himself, requiring a hoist to belifted onto his horse. That horse must havereally hated his job. In the end, Henry'sfinal suit of armor showed he weighedover 300 pounds and had a 52 inchwaistline, so maybe a last-round pick fora low-seeded team. But the leg ulcers weren'tthe only contributing factor to his health problems.
[MUSIC PLAYING] While the many fractures hesustained during the jousting accident were a primarycause of his leg ulcers, Henry's clothing choicesdidn't help matters. As a young, handsomeking, he liked to show off, especially hiscalves, Handsome Squidward style. He even participatedin calf muscle.
Bulging contestsin the 1500s, which sounds like a deletedscene from Top Gun. Hank's calves were so amazingthat Venetian ambassador Giustiniana Wynneonce described Henry in writing as, “the handsomestpotentate I ever set eyes on– above the usualheight, with an extremely fine calf to his leg.” Just imagineGiustiniana's diary. Naturally, HenryVIII couldn't resist.
Highlighting his lovelylegs, wearing tight garters around the top ofeach calf, even continuing the practiceafter his injury and decline in health. Today, we know thattight-constricting clothing can lead to blood clots,varicose veins, and thrombosis. But none of this wasknown at the time. It's entirely possible thatHenry's clothing choices contributed to someof the leg problems.
He experienced later in life. Talk about sufferingfor fashion. [MUSIC PLAYING] Multiple leg fractures,a jousting accident, and tight garters are all likelycauses of Henry's leg ulcers. But that didn't stophistorians from seeking alternative explanationsfor Henry's severe ulcers. At some point, a theory emergedthat the king had syphilis,.
Based on as many maladies,both physical and mental, and his strugglesto produce an heir. However, modern historiansgenerally reject the theory. Although the King may have beena carrier of the disease, which could lead to him passingthe disease to his wives, who pass it on to theirchildren, there is no record of himreceiving mercury treatments or being out of the publiceye for a long period. There's also no recordof any of his wives.
Being treated or showingsymptoms, further discrediting the idea. [MUSIC PLAYING] Seeping leg wounds arechronic and painful and tend to be on the lowend of anyone's wish list. There's no doubt that HenryVIII suffered greatly every day. And his doctors took a uniqueapproach to pain management, cauterizing the ulcerswith burning hot irons.
It wouldn't be medieval medicineif it weren't terrifying. Unfortunately, searing the painaway wasn't terribly effective. And the king'scondition only worsened. If that weren'tbad enough, there wasn't any anestheticduring these treatments, and the open wounds allowedinfections to thrive. The condition gotso bad that subjects could smell the odor fromhis ulcers three rooms away. Someone, pass theroyal clothespins.
[MUSIC PLAYING] While historians have long sincediscussed Henry's leg ulcers, doing so during hisreign was a bad idea and could have beena death sentence. The king wanted to be seenas powerful and strong, especially when his power wasno longer checked by the Pope. Later in his life. Henry went a little crazywith beheading nobles, wives,.
And subjects alike. Among his list of victimswere Henry Courtenay, First Marquess of Exeter,and Henry Pole, First Baron Montagu, who were officiallyaccused of treason. Henry had specificallycreated both positions for these two men. So you know he must havebeen seriously pissed to break up the three Hanks. Courtenay and Polewere officially.
Charged withparticipating in what would become known as the ExeterConspiracy, an alleged attempt to overthrow Henry VII andreplace him with Courtenay himself. Historians believethe would-be coup was inspired by Henry'sadmonishing of the Catholic Church and yoinking of theChurch of England's power. But Henry made it somehoweven more personal. During their trial,a witness testified.
That they disrespectfullydiscussed the king's health. The men were quotedas saying, “He has a sore leg that nopoor man would be glad of, and that he should not live longfor all his authority next God. He will die suddenly. His leg will kill him. And then we shallhave jolly stirring.” Henry was displeased,to say the least. So he beheaded both of them.
And honestly, they shouldhave seen that coming. It was kind of hissignature move. Questioning the kingwas obviously perilous. And as Henry VIII's legscontinued to deteriorate, he would go on towhack many more people through the end of his reign. As a French physician whotried to treat Henry put it, “In this country,you will not meet with any great nobleswhose relations have not.
Had their heads cut off.” [MUSIC PLAYING] If festering wounds andmajor BO weren't bad enough, King Henry VIII likely sufferedfrom diabetes and hypertension as well. His constant eating anddrinking worried his doctors, after all consuming roughly5,000 calories a day isn't good for your health,unless you're The Rock.
Or you're trainingto defeat The Rock. The doctors askedthe king to cut back, but he adamantly refused. So the royal courtbegan whispering jokes about his habits,saying things like, “The King is very stout andmarvelously excessive in eating and drinking, so thatpeople worth credit say, he is often of a differentopinion in the morning than after dinner.”.
In other words, Hankis grouchy until he's had his cheeseburgers. Today, we know Henry'sextreme overeating leads to high risks for obesity,diabetes, and hypertension. These diseases arealso known for making vascular disease, like Henry'sleg ulcers, much worse. If the King suffered fromany of these conditions while dealing withhis leg ulcers, it could have worsened them.
But did he? Historians and medical expertshave different theories based on circumstantial evidenceand retroactive observation. But no one knows for sure. Whatever the case may be,Henry's health problems grew progressivelyworse, ultimately leading to his demise fromrenal failure at age 55. Presumably someonestrummed a tender version of the Herman's Hermits songon a lute at his bedside.
So what do you think? Was Henry VIII'sinfamous behavior the result of an infected leg? Or was he just a royal jerk? Let us know in thecomments below. And while you're at it, checkout some of these other videos from our Weird History.