Henry VIII, Kell Positive Blood Type and McLeod Syndrome: Part Two – Guest Post by Kyra Kramer

Posted By on August 20, 2012

Today we have Part Two of Kyra Kramer’s post on Henry VIII, Kell positive blood type and McLeod Syndrome, and Kyra has taken on board all of the comments left on her previous post. If you missed part one then you can click here to read it.

Over to Kyra…

Hi everyone! It’s me, Kyra Cornelius Kramer, once more guest posting here on The Anne Boleyn Files. Today’s topic will be McLeod syndrome, which is the second half of the theory featured in my book.

Before I get cracking on McLeod, I would like to take a moment to say two things.

First, I want to express my gratitude to Claire for allowing me this forum to get my message out. I feel this theory would go a long way toward reconceptualizing Henry VIII and his relationship with his wives, and I am eager for people outside of academia to hear about it.

Secondly, I have been profoundly impressed by the question/concerns brought up in the comments sections. Although there isn’t room to cover it all here, I do address many issues in my book that otherwise lend to skepticism about the theory. That includes other theories about Henry’s health, some of which have been debunked and some that are very likely to be true. The main difference between my book and other history books is the “lens” through which I view the historical information. My academic background is biology, anthropology, and medical anthropology, all of which give me a different perspective on why certain historical events took place. One of those events was the legal murder of Anne Boleyn, and it has directly to do with the McLeod syndrome I am convinced Henry suffered from.

McLeod syndrome can only be manifested in people who have a Kell positive blood type (and almost exclusively in men to date). It has both physical and mental symptoms. Usually the symptoms of McLeod syndrome begin to appear near the patient’s fortieth birthday (with only a very few cases that start in the 30s or as late as 50s) and they grow progressively worse over time. Those symptoms include muscle and nerve deterioration, facial tics, malformed blood cells, and damage of the internal organs like the liver and the heart. There is also often an erosion of mental stability, wherein the patient becomes more and more irrational and erratic.

There is extreme variability and severity of symptoms for this disease. Take, for example, something suffered by all McLeod patients, such as elevated levels of serum creatine phosphokinase. Although all patients with McLeod syndrome have the elevation levels, it will vary from as little as 1.3 times the normal limit to as much as 15 times the normal limit. That’s a BIG difference. Other common symptoms of McLeod syndrome show a similar spectrum of severity. No matter if the symptoms of McLeod syndrome are mental or physical, they can still vary widely. Some patients may have a lot of facial tics, while many others have no visible tics at all. Some patients may develop a lot of psychological aberrations, while others have little or no personality alteration. Because of all the variation, malformed red blood cells are the best giveaway of this disease, since the blood cells of all McLeod patients are affected. However, there was no way for the physicians in Henry’s time to have looked at his cells — they didn’t even know that the blood contained cells in this era — so we will never find the “smoking gun” of a royal doctor’s diary recording, “The King doth have wondrous shaped blood bits.” More is the pity.

Obviously, the physical symptoms alone cannot be used to effectively argue that Henry suffered from McLeod syndrome. Thus, it is the signs of his decreasing rationality that support the argument that he had the disease.The kinds of psychopathology exhibited by patients with McLeod syndrome include, but are not limited to, deterioration of memory and executive functions, paranoia, depression, socially inappropriate conduct, and can even get so bad that it mimics schizophrenia-like behaviors. In severe cases, “schizophrenia-like symptoms” of personality changes can be the “prominent initial clinical manifestation” of McLeod syndrome.

There is a plethora of evidence to show how Henry’s personality and mental processes had changed, and I try to put the largest quantity possible in the book. Moreover, the timing fits McLeod syndrome like a glove. Henry turned forty in the summer of 1531, and shortly thereafter he started getting meaner in his treatment of Queen Katherina. For the first couple of years she was the only victim. By the time he was forty-four the King’s personality alterations were becoming more and more clear. In spite of his enduring reputation for tyranny, he only started killing people who disagreed with him in 1535, the year he beheaded Thomas More. Most people remember 1536 as the watershed year for Henry’s new fondness for the axe, because that is the year he legally murdered Anne, but it actually started in 1535. However, before the 1530’s getting him to agree to an execution was like pulling teeth. Cardinal Wolsey even had a devil of a time getting him to execute the Duke of Buckingham, who was clearly gunning for the throne.

Incidentally, the bloodbath began several months before he fell and was knocked unconscious during a tournament in January of 1536. That means that the blow to the head may have exacerbated his symptoms, but the alteration in his personality had already begun more than a year before.

His relationship with Anne Boleyn neatly straddles his manifestation of mental symptoms. Henry started pursuing Anne in 1525 (maybe as early as 1524) and then beheaded her in 1536. Prior to his fortieth birthday he is clearly a besotted swain, but he is still trying to please everyone and let Katherina down gently (good luck with that, mister). After his fortieth birthday he becomes increasingly cruel to Katherina, and then murderous to anyone who disagrees with him, and then turns abruptly and viciously on the woman he had loved so dearly. I happen to agree with Walker1, and think her fall wasn’t because of her miscarriage, but because she told a courtier that he wished for “dead men’s shoes”, which could be construed as imagining the death of the King. Her enemies, lead by Cromwell, pounced on it and convinced Henry she was out to get him. A little torture of Mark Smeaton and his confession of adultery — and voila, she is a whore and Cromwell can conveniently rid himself of some of her supporters. I also think that while historian Retha Warnicke2 is probably wrong about a Anne’s birthing a deformed fetus, she is probably right in that Anne was ascribed the witch-like behaviors in which the Tudors believed. Henry, having become paranoid and irrational from McLeod syndrome, was easy prey to to manipulation by Anne’s foes and signed off on his wife’s beheading.

The man who killed Anne Boleyn was clearly not the same kind and gentle knight of his youth, and he would grow steadily worse. Now, most people only remember the monstrous brute he was during the last fifteen or so years of his reign, and not the gentle and intelligent man he was until midlife. I really hope that the theory and the evidence I present will at least encourage people to see Henry VIII as the complex monarch he was, and perhaps even forgive him for the crimes he committed as a result of an uncontrollable disease that caused mental illness.

Blood Will Tell by Kyra Kramer

Kyra’s book on this theory, Blood Will Tell, is due to be released on 21 August 2012.

Here is the blurb:

With his tumultuous love life, relentless pursuit of a male heir, and drastic religious transformation, England’s King Henry VIII’s life sounds more like reality television than history. He was a man of fascinating contradictions — he pursued a woman he loved for almost a decade only to behead her less than four years after their marriage. He defended Catholicism so vigorously that he was honored as Defender of the Faith, but he went on to break with Rome and have himself declared Supreme Head of the Church of England. Worst of all, the King who began his reign praised as “hero” and “lover of justice and goodness” ended it having metamorphosed into such a monster that he was called the “English Nero.” What could have caused these incredible paradoxes? Could there be a simple medical explanation for the King’s descent into tyranny? Where do the answers lie?

Blood Will Tell.

Kyra’s book on Henry VIII, Kell blood type and McLeod Syndrome is now available as an e-book on Amazon. Here are the links:

The paperback version is due for release next week.


  1. Rethinking the Fall of Anne Boleyn, G Walker
  2. The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn, Retha Warnicke

49 thoughts on “Henry VIII, Kell Positive Blood Type and McLeod Syndrome: Part Two – Guest Post by Kyra Kramer”

  1. Kara says:

    After reading ‘The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn’ by Eric Ives, I really learned a lot more about Anne and he states that it was 1525-2526 when Henry started to persue Anne. I noticed you put possible as low as 1523, now I’m very confused cause he believed her in France at that time but didn’t put claim to it. Not that it has anything to do with this possible disease. Didn’t he also get hit in the face earlier than when he got crushed by the horse while also in a Jousting tournament? I know a lot of dates get differenciated during the Tudor times but in my opinion it’s important because he could of had numerous conditions that could of pertained to his mental status. I don’t know if I can say I’m fully down with this theory, get a sample if you can and run testing on him to find out for sure. I mean, he could of had bipolar for all anyone knows!! Diabetes can mess your brain up too especially back then with no sort of treatment like insulin today.

    1. Baroness Von Reis says:

      Hi Kara,I have to agree with your reply aswell,this is just a theory,there is no scientific evidence that can hold this up,We all know that Henry also had a serious leg injury that never held these type of injurys can cause sepsis,blood poisoning ,aswell as being obess, could have been the demize of the King.But that to is just theory and intil some type of science can back theory to facts,we may never know very good ,point Kara. Thx Baroness

      1. Shoshana says:

        If Henry had developed blood poisoning from any injury, he would have died within a very short time. Recently my husband developed sepsis from an e-coli infection. We thought he had a urinary tract infection and put off seeking medical help over a weekend. The symptoms had started the previous Friday. By 9:00 am Monday morning when he saw the doctor, his blood pressure was so low the doctor did not understand why he was still conscience and able to speak logically. He was taken by ambulance across the parking lot to the Emergency Room because the doctor feared he would collapse if he walked over or even if I drove him. After testing showed the e-coli infection and the sepsis that had developed, the doctors told me that if we had waited another 3 hours, he would have died. He came very close to it.So if Henry had sepsis or blood poisoning from anything, he would not have survived very long. My step-daughter’s husband lost two family members to sepsis when they refused to seek help and said they just had the flu and “it would get better.” Both died within 3 days of the first symptom.

        Personally, I think that while there might have been medical reasons for the miscarriages it was not so much this as a mental problem that caused Henry’s tyranny. His actions against his Queens could be the results of several mental illnesses. My step son has a mental illness and when not taking his medication can become very violent and thinks people are against him. At these times if he had the power,he would certainly order executions. More than once people have had to defend themselves against his violent outbursts. I think Henry would have physically attacked people if he had the opportunity. By the time he ordered investigations to gather evidence he had ordered his wives to be separated from him;p he separated all those he executed from himself and so did not have the opportunity of becoming violent and trying to hurt them.

        Personally, I think he should be exhumed and his remains tested – and so should many of the royals and nobility. There is much medical knowledge to be gained from testing the remains of subsequent family members who lived through the centuries. The passing of inherited diseases and attributes could be better defined by exhumations. Not to mention a lot of theories and myths proved or disproved. Personally I would like to find out if Edward VI’s body was replaced with anothers and dresolved that myth once and for all. And the we could learn if the skeletons of two boys found in the Towers were really the missing Princes. So much to learn if we could exhume the remains and today we could do so respectfully and at the same time make sure the surrounding strutures were solid enough to continue standing for another 500 years.

        1. Baroness Von Reis says:

          Shoshana Thank you for the reply,I was very close to getting blood poisining as well the 2 absesses were right on the spine,thank God for the Doctors and meds they were able to give me,or I dont think we would be having this chat,my point is also that when you are in so much pain you begin to losethe will to live,my pain was so constat all the time,unbareable,and now have permentent injury for the rest of my life. Here’s a QA did they know about antibiotical honey?Which is used to date on open wounds such as dog ,cat and other wounds ect;Because Doctors will not sow deep wouds,very easy to get life thretining infections.You have made some very excellent point’s and I thank you for that!!! My theroy is Henry was so obess he died of a good old heart attack or may a strock. Regards Baroness x

  2. Esther says:

    Interesting theory. I think it stronger than the “jousting accident” theory, because it explains the “pre-accident” changes. I don’t think Catherine was his only victim, though. Henry’s treatment of Wolsey also seems to fit into your time line — Wolsey was banished in 1529 and died before being beheaded in 1530, both slightly before you theorize that the symptoms really were manifest.

    1. Kyra Kramer says:

      Good point, and I talk about that in the book. There is evidence that Wolsey had started actively working against Henry’s divorce, and if Henry had already become violent in 1529 then Wolsey would have been in a lot more trouble. Because this happened before Henry was forty, he treated Wolsey more like Buckingham, in that the King was very reluctant to order the most severe punishment. However, by 1535 Henry was happy to legally murder his “enemies”, real or imagined.

    2. Baroness Von Reis says:

      Kyra,It is a shame that Henry pointed the finger at Wolesy for lossing the divorce,it really was the Spanish Anbasseter the ended the earring not Wolesy,as the Queen apealed to Rome and would only be her there.At first I really disliked Wolesy aa I learnd more about the man,I really felt sorry for him.After all he was the King’s best friend for many year’s aswell as Sir Thomas More,they both really did love there King.So we need to take a good look at Cromwell ,as he was the one who made the adultery lies up for the King,to rid himself of Queen Anne and Wolesy, she worned Wolesy that she would take him down and boy she did.When he and Queen Katherine were both banished from court it was very sad. I could not beleave that the King had Sir Thomas More beheaded another life long friend.But I really have to disagree, that Wolesy was the Judise to the King, this was Cromwell open door to gaine more power.Finally Cromwell got what was comming to him,as he was infact the true master mind, to all the lies against these poor souls. Kind Regards Baroness

  3. Kyra Kramer says:

    @Kara … I actually said it might be as early as 1524 (not 1523) because Anne probably was in France. Historians seem to agree that it was at least by 1526, but David Starkey has some evidence that Henry’s infatuation might have been as soon as she got back. At any rate, there was at least a decade where Henry and Anne were “involved”, and Henry would have been manifesting the mental aberrations of McLeod syndrome for the last 1/2 of that time.

    1. Baroness Von Reis says:

      Hi Kyra,I do think Anne returned to the King’s court when she was on or about 17 to 18 year’s old,and Henry was instintly infatuated with her,she had know attracktion to the King and very angrey, that she was put up, as his next victume.All I have herd and have been reading is that she held out for 6 year’s and they were together 10 year’s.Then Henry started the chase for Jane Seymour.Also Wolsy failed the King in the divorce of QueenKatherine and that was the end of Wolsy, orderd to leave the court and takeQueen Katherine and house her somewhere far away from him. Cromwell was the factor in the made up lies about Anne ,being unfaithfull to Henry,and she was arrested as soon as Comwell had his evidence,by her uncle The Duke Of Norforlk,I should have said false evidence by Cromwell. Kind Regards .

  4. Anne Barnhill says:

    Interesting and well-defended theory. I think Henry always had the capacity for his actions in later years–Thomas More said something about not letting him know his power for then none could control him. When he came to the throne, he was a callow youth who wished to eat, drink and be merry. As the burdens of state came more to his attention (and after his first son died in infancy and there were no more legitimate sons) he began to look more seriously to the governing of his kingdome. Then along came Anne and the two issues sort of merged into one, which led to the break with Rome. That was definitly about power and Henry was flexing his muscles. As he had one person ‘done in’, I think it became, psychologically, easier to do more. Thanks for an interesting piece and best of luck with your book!

    1. Baroness Von Reis says:

      Hi Anne,I have to totally agree with your point and to with what Sir Thomas More said.I also think that Henry became more and more angerd ,by that fact he could not produce males and if he did Edward,they died very young.I have said in the past Kings and Queens donot show weakness, for they would not be able to rule there Kingdome.Mary 1 was bloody and far more crazed then Henry,and Elizabeth rid anyone she felt was a threat to her Kingdome,this was a sign of the power of the royals,and this does’nt just go back to tudor time it is threw out history. THX

  5. MarnieRose says:

    Thanks for a fascinating two-part article! That’s a very interesting theory. The book looks very intriguing and I’m loking forward to reading it when it comes out tomorrow.

  6. lady domino says:

    When will the book be out in the UK?

  7. Bobbio says:

    Very interesting! As a fan of med anthro (I spent three years as a phys anth grad student) I’m really looking forward to reading your work.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    Is there any possible connection with this disease and his tremendous weight gain? I had wondered if he was diabetic, but this makes a bit more sense.
    Of course it is possible he had more than one physical/emotional/mental problem, and also possible that he controlled his tendency to bully others till he discovered he didn’t have to control it…..absolute power corrupts absolutely….???? It could be all stirred up in one man at one interesting moment in time.
    I am really looking forward to the book, thanks Kyra!

    1. Tania says:

      I think at that size, there’s little doubt he suffered furthermore than what he would have if thinner. He truly was enormous and at that size, though you might be very lucky and avoid diabetes, his other physical problems would have no doubt worsened simply from the incredible strain that body mass puts on the internal organs and bones and joints. Any pain would have been all the greater, which certainly wouldn’t have helped his mood! It is a difficult cycle that people get trapped in after injury, where the injury causes weight gain and the weight gain makes the injury worse and before you know it you’re trapped in a vicious cycle! Also, that would also have an impact on your mental well being too.

      I remember reading that he was once put on a diet and exercise plan, during his mid life crisis marriage to poor Katherine Howard, and his symptoms improved before he reinjured it again and the good was undone. Of course if he had McLeod disease underlying this no amount of diet and exercise would have cured his tyranny completely.

  9. Baroness Von Reis says:

    Elizabeth,I really can say that there was know connecton with Henry’s weight gain ,when he was a young man hae was very in shape,he love to hunt and all other sport.We see pictures of him when he did start to gain mass amounts of weight,mussel truns to fat when not active,and Henry had a serious unjury to his thigh with that and a very heavy love for food,he began to keep putting poundage on.He became morbidly obess.Thats is why people think that he was always very fat,but it is not true,this happened over a long croase of time. AB Friend Baroness

    1. MindyP51 says:

      Muscle doesn’t turn to fat, Baroness. Muscle is muscle and fat is fat.

  10. Debra says:

    Thank you so much for the very interesting post. I will be buying the book. It is so interesting how the human body works when it is well, and in Henry’s case, when it is not.

  11. Tash Wakefield says:

    I think i spoke too soon of part one, you have answered my questions in the second part! I have often wondered at him changing his mind so quickly about Anne. He wasnt a stupid man, I dont think anyone could really convince him of anything he didnt himself believe, but that is just my impression. Do you have any other examples of known famous people with Mcleods syndrome, or any known stories? Obviously they wont be as dramatic, its pretty hard to get away with having someone executed these days, maybe some criminal that has proven claims to the disease?
    Good luck with the book launch Kyra 🙂

  12. Tania says:

    Another great post! Thanks for your two guest posts. It is certainly very interesting and definitely a possibility.

    A couple of points I wonder about though. I think the turnaround in behaviour wasn’t quite so abrupt as to begin suddenly in 1535, but rather I can see elements of it previously. Wolsey for one. There’s little doubt that he would have gone to the block years before More if he hadn’t conveniently died from disease in custody. On the other hand, this is the opinion of historians that have the benefit of hindsight and attach the belief he would have had Wolsey executed based on his LATER tyranny, when really the only other major political figure to be executed in the previous decade was Buckingham. So maybe Wolsey would have been spared the block? Do you have an opinion on this Kara?

    I also am not well versed in the Buckingham incident and what the exact circumstances were, but I have heard previously that Henry was harsh on him, so I’m not sure which it is; did Wolsey have to prod or was Henry more ruthless than that?

    Henry certainly exhibited paranoia at times! Historians have generally put that down to the rather wobbly Tudor ascension and the fact that there existed families with claims to the throne just as valid as his. So it is a question. Was the paranoia normal for a king of those unsafe and brutal times, killing out of pure necessity rather than actually desiring so? Was it really so unsafe that Henry was justified, or was his level of paranoia beyond what can be deemed reasonable? That’s an unanswerable question for us moderns really, but his treatment of some of the Poles was really terrible. A child Pole was in prison for decades before release, and we all know the infamous treatment of Margaret. These two people couldn’t possibly have endangered Henry’s throne! An old woman who had no hope even if she were so inclined, and a child that must have been innocent, and suffered only for his blood ties.

    On Anne’s fall, I do doubt that the incest and adultery allegations came after the ‘dead men’s shoes’ or speaking of the kings death. It was the ‘dead men’s shoes’ that was the treason that got Anne the death sentence, as adultery on her part was not treason. Though it must have been treason on the men’s part as that was their conviction. It’s possible they added the adultery after to sell it to the people better, but legally there was no need to.

  13. Julia says:

    Fascinating! I had long thought his fall in 1536 was to blame, but this article presents almost incontrovertable evidence that he suffered from a serious mental illness. It would be very interesting to be able to exhume is body (imagine how big his skeleton would be), but 1. I doubt the Queen would allow it, and 2. I dread to think what would happen if his spirit was to be disturbed!!!

  14. Aynne says:

    This is fabulous! Thank you, Claire for having Kyra “visit”. I spent some hours in medical libraries years ago trying to understand the change in Henry. The shift from happy prince and beloved King to tyrant is acute. The mood-shifts were only in the last half of his life, starting during the Anne Boleyn years, and until this, only the jousting accident and potential brain damage could explain it…. and of course, the deviation of behaviour actually began before the accident. I will look for this book. I think it is one of the most important pieces of research that has been done into the aberrant personality Henry displayed in midi-life on. It answers so many questions and I am delighted Kyra has spent the hours and used her unique interests and expertise to address this matter. Thank you!!

    1. Leigh says:

      I’m curious about Henry Vlll’s family and their medical history.
      Is there any information regarding Kell blood type, in Henry’s father, for example?

  15. david says:

    King Henry VIII is the most interesting personality of the Tudor Era. I enjoy so much anything that arises regarding him and feel with the efforts of others, like you Kara, more and more of his life comes to light. One day we will know the man that was King Henry VIII. Actually I am somewhat relieved that possibility an actual mental condition is the culperate as to why Henry went from a probably confused lad to the man all the world now knows as the killer of many turning the Tudor reign into a bloody dynasty and because of its blood and gore the most interesting of all families that ruled England. I look forward also to the book to read, enjoy and add to the many I have on this guy. Thank You.

  16. Chelsea says:

    I am desperately trying to see this point of view but I just can’t. Especially when the article sets off saying right away “The main difference between my book and other history books is the “lens” through which I view the historical information.” That just confirms the “making history fit the theory instead of devising the theory from the history” thing ive been saying. Same with me I have psych background so most of what I percieve is going to be nature/nurture problems. But I also do have some medical experience and most of the problems that people so want to pass off as some disease or syndrome is just the basic human need to cast off any responsibility for what they do. I dont find Henry’s behavior all that tyrannical. And I dont see any historical fact backing up “a sudden temper the day he hit 40”, He was already against KOA and couldnt execute her becuase that would basically be declaring war on spain. That was a political move not an act of compassion. Henry wanted nothing to do with “katherina” even before Anne came into the picture. Plus Anne is also documented as having a volitile temper and her and Henry would have I hate you fights followed by youre the one and only make up sessions. Does she have some syndrome as well? Or were they just a dysfunctional couple/catalysts to each other’s weaker qualities? Anne didnt give Henry a son. Henry was king. he was entitled and spoiled and even when he was ugly and fat and smelly everyone had to swoon over him like he was prince charming. He HAD to get his way. That is not abnormal thats just the enviornment in which a king is raised. Some kings are easy going some kings rage and execute and act off their feelings instead of logic. Other kings had reproductive problems with bad tempers and destructive behaviors are they too suffering from Mcleod syndrome. And Henry did not suddenly turn on people. He kept up certain social behaviors towards them while having spies investigate and orcestrate their down falls. He didnt suddleny turn on Anne. She only gave him a daughter then miscarried and it probably reminded him of the miserable years being denied a son with KOA and if that marriage didnt produce an heir becuase of some sin of Katherines and that the marriage was not God approved then well Anne must have sinned and God must n ot approve and with all the “evidence” conviently saying she was basically a whore, well….she got what was coming (in Henry’s belief). And Cromwells end wasnt sudden either. That relationship began deteriorating with Anne of Cleves if not before. Wasnt it Cromwell that suggested that Henry remarry after Jane in the first place or am I reading something wrong? And Wolsey well that was just a huge disaster. Wolsey expressed how easy getting a divorce was going to be “oh ill just pop over to Rome get the king a divorce and make myself pope hazaah!” wrong. So wrong. So Wolsey had to go (per Henry’s way of thinking). Way before 40 Henry was just as fickle with his emotions and relationships. It just became more prnounced just like any human who grows up never maturing and becoming set in their ways. As a young man his emotion and behavior was viewed as passion and fit for a “young prince/king” but when he got older here in the 21st century we have beliefs of how one should behave per age. Well as king he could be a 40 year old man with a “me me me” 18yr old intellect. Sigh. I am rambling. Oh! And Moore! He wouldnt sign the supreme head of Church thing that Henry needed. And Henry looked up to Moore. I bet Moore not agreeing that Henry was head of church was a huge slap in the face for Henry. And he did mourn Thomas after his execution but henry could not NOT punish him as he had done others who didnt sign the form just becuase they were close. That would show Henry as not having conviction. I like Henry. Nothing he did has ever made me think mental illness or brain damage or anything other than envirnemntal stressors. he acted very human. Just like Mary’s upbringing landed her the role in later life as “bloody mary”. Not a big surprise that she became a bit off either.

    1. margaret says:

      very well said ands sounds true

      1. Baroness Von Reis says:

        Chelsea, Very well said you have some excellent points. Thx Baroness

  17. Dawn ist says:

    It seems that Henry can be seen in simple terms, or complex ones, depending on our own individual thoughts and conclusions, life experiences, and professions even, he certainly gives us an never ending amount of reasons for discussion. Great…

    This is a very impressive and well researched post, and convincing too, up to a point…but couldn’t all those symptoms mentioned above fit many other diagnosis of mental illness/personality disorders.
    Also I find the link to physical age at a time when peoples life span was considerably shorter a little confusing, and maybe can’t be relied on, even though Henry was a little past his ‘sell by date’ for the time, with the symptoms appearing, as said, in the 40’s now-a-days, would it not be different then, and have to be considered, would not the natural ‘body clock’ of those times be working differently for when things would change in the body, for example, if some illness starts to show at 30yrs now, it seems reasonable to think it would show at 17/20yrs then, as we live a lot longer, do these ‘illnesses’ change with era? can anyone understand what I’m trying to say, or am being a bit dense 🙂

    1. Tash Wakefield says:

      I dont know but i would guess that 40 would still be 40. People went through puberty and women through menopause at the same ages. Even if they made girls have babies at thirteen fourteen, doesnt mean it was the optimal time. People died younger because of the lack of scientific accuracy and judgement. Diseases of old age like advanced osteoperosis alzheimers would not have occured in the same volume in 35 year olds as it does now in people over 60. But thats just my opinion, probably I should have just held my tongue and left it to Kyra, so apologies if ive seemed rude 🙂

      1. Tash Wakefield says:

        I very much agree with your first statement. We all put a different spin on Henry, its a great story and a great moment in history. I myself keep commenting on it being a simple thing that made him how he was, but i havent done as much research as other people…..

      2. Dawn 1st says:

        No, you haven’t been rude Tash, but I do disagree with you on some points though. From things I have read puberty may have been roughly at the same time as us, but ladies did seem to start the menopause from around 40, a good 10 years plus before us modern ladies. Usually girls did not sleep with their husbands until they were14, this applied to the ‘husbands’ too if they were also young, this was considered to be the acceptable time, in the Tudor age.
        People did die a lot younger because, as you say there wasn’t the knowledge then, and of course, poor conditions and hygene. The diseases you mention may not of occured in the quantities we have now, if at all, they had their own set of diseases to contend with, some that seem to have been erradicated, some we can control or cure, personally I think that each era has,this modern age of ours has too, which come with the way we live..it is all relative. That is why, to me anyway, that because their lives where shorter in time scale, the bodies natural progressions, types of medical conditions, would work accordingly to that shorten natural life span… not saying I am right cos I aint no Doc 🙂 but to me I can’t see that you can use a physical age in our time as a guide line and apply it to someone 500 years ago, but hey, its all a very interesting theory and guess work, till our nice Queen lets ’em at them bones, now that would be a discussion, and maybe a few shocks too….

  18. margaret says:

    for my own thoughts i think the diabetes theory is right,i dont believe he had any blood disorders,i think his tyranny was always there ,it was a way of life for anyone in power ,and especially henry who became king at 18 ,he had a huge ego and why wouldnt he there was enough pandering to his whims by just about anyone who wanted to be part of that inner circle.by the time of anne execution henry would have been nasty meaning he was fat ,in a lot of pain with leg ,impotent on and off ,he did manage to get jane pregnant,id say he was fairly gross looking at this stage and his temper was boiling with all these problems,he had lost his youthful supposedly good looks and add to that no male heirs which did mean a lot and still does in some cultures ,his ego was badly dented by anne being around a lot of younger courtiers so he would have believed anything bad about her ,there was no reason to suppose in his mind that she had not been unfaithful when she very unwisely spoke about his impotence to her brother and when this was brought to henrys ears ,well his rage knew no limits ,he just couldnt get over this rage at her and the thought that he had been made a fool of ,i dont think he had mental illness in the clinical sense just that he was a very spoiled pampered man who had his way always and was used to it and also used a lot by some people to get into that golden inner circle ,mary and elizabeth were as bad absolutely power mad and corrupt ,none off them should have ruled ,they didnt care about anything else but the crown .

    1. MindyP51 says:

      Margaret. I also think the diabetes explanation is on target, and I also agree with you that his personality was his personality. Henry VII was not an emotionally giving man, and as the second son, Henry would not have received much attention from this cold man…what love Henry did receive came from his mother. Also, Henry VII could be said to be paranoid about his right to the throne of England, given the circumstances and his family’s rise to the ultimate seat…and Henry VIII would have been very aware of this, that many did believe the Tudors should be on the throne at all.

  19. Baroness Von Reis says:

    I can say that exsumming the King’s body would be a waste of time as the body is but dust,when the bones dry they trun to dust,they did not have preserve the bodies,like the Egyptians,which, took months to do,that preservation of mummies was genise.That is why we were able to find out certain things on the King’s and Queen’sthat ruled back them and to date there still in pretty good shape, for being dead for 1000 years,were as in tudor time, Claire explained to me how the bodies were somewhat preserved,with straw and spice sented oil.So my thought is that these bodies would be very close to dust and you can’t get DNA from dust. Kind Regards Baroness

    1. Baroness Von Reis says:

      Another point I would like to make theses 500 year Royal’s have know more blood in there bodies,so I really think they would have to take another route if ever they did deside, to dig there bodies up for testing,still a waste of time.But I do wish you the best in your research and your novels.

  20. Cindy says:

    All very interesting… fascinating in fact… but IS it even possible to find out anything after all this time?? IS there a process that will work…
    **and even MORE important… IS THERE A PHYSICAL body at all??? or any remains at all???
    I thought I read that Henry was so obese, sick smelly with his body literally rotting around him that a special type oversize coffin needed to be constructed… and on transport in the street it fell, OR gasses from the body caused it to burst open and local dogs attacked the remains…(quite horrible end even if he was already deceased)
    There is a burial spot next to Jane… but IS there anything in it???
    Anyone else ever hear about this???

    1. margaret says:

      well i read that as well ,that in fact the coffin exploded a bit it would not have been at all pleasent for the poor men who had to sort out this mess

      1. Baroness Von Reis says:

        Margaret,I think Claire explained the damage that happen to Henry’s body, there was another body buried on top of Henry’s grave site and that had done a great amount of damage to Henry’s coffin and the body,there were just bone’s.That why there is so much damage to these 500 year old bodies,with that said the coffins were not that great,like todays coffins.Plus the facts of elaments weather,moisture ect; I did wonder and went to Claire, there is also a site she has if you want to go to it,Claire would likely have that site so your QAs can get more insight on this matter. THx AB Friend. Baroness

  21. Madeleine says:

    Is McLeod’s Sydrome cause by a genetic mutation? Or is it hereditary? I’m not all that familiar with the behaviors of Hnery’s family (neices, nephews, etc) but I don’t recall their health, reproduction or behavior to be as erratic as Henry’s…

  22. Robert says:

    At the heart of this weird hypothesis is a profound misunderstanding of what K positive means and the Kx protien a related protein which is the basis of the Mcleod phenotype.

    “Kell antigens normally associate with a protein called Kx on the surfaces of red blood cells. In some people, the Kx protein is absent, resulting in McLeod syndrome. Characteristics of this syndrome include acanthocytosis (thorny projections on red blood cells) and reduced Kell antigen expression”

    K/k is a single amino acid variation in the KEL protein and had nothing to do with the Mcleod syndrome. If anything the K/k expression is less.

    Thw whole artifice collapses when the profound misunderstading of the genetics and pathophysiology of the Mcleod syndrome is properly reviewed.

  23. Kyra Kramer says:


    This question actually came up when the theory was initially in peer-review, and a whopping great scientific answer was given that satisfied the medical people on the review team (I have no idea who they were, because peer-review is usually “blind”). However, a lot of journal articles that were used are not available to the general public online. You either have to go down into a basement of a University Library and copy them or pay an exorbitant price. Thus, forgive me that I cannot link to many sources. They are available in my bibliography, which I will make public on my website.

    To shorten down the debate, below is the link to an abstract from a 1983 article from a peer-reviewed journal entitled: “An individual with McLeod syndrome and the Kell blood group antigen K(K1).” The article discusses the first recorded instance of a “known K:1 person with McLeod syndrome”. It should be noted that K(K1) does not CAUSE McLeod; re “the Kell gene is unlikely to have any positive input into development of McLeod syndrome; its role is one of passive involvement in which its expression is modified.”


    You can have K(K1) effecting pregnancies and the father still express McLeod syndrome because of variant Kell antigen expression.

    Because Ob/Gyns and specialists in McLeod syndrome don’t really overlap, this connection is frequently missed even in the medical community. The volume of medical knowledge is such that no one human (not even House) can contain it all, so please don’t think I am being mocking or disrespectful of your assumption. On average, you would be more likely to be correct.

  24. BanditQueen says:

    Another invented modern disease! Whenever someone displays behaviour that we as modern so called moral people have trouble with acceptance we say it was due to this disease or anther disease. We cannot accept that people just behave in a certain manner in response to their changing circumstances, influences of someone else or their environment, because they are plain evil, have a mental defect, believe they are above the law or divine, or simpley because they choose a course of action, cannot get their own way and act in any manner to get the end result. We have to find a made up disease to explain everything.

  25. Tori says:

    Interesting subject. I was glad to read that even if Henry viii was Kell-positive, that it was still possible Mary Boleyn’s children Catherine and Henry Carey were Henry’s children, because they could have had the good fortune to not have been passed the Kell-positive gene from him as their father. I suspect that Henry’s obsession with Anne was because her sister, Mary, first gave him a healthy daughter and then a healthy son. He could not acknowledge these children because he had all ready acknowledged his son with Bessie Blount, Henry Fitzroy. Then shortly after the birth of Mary’s healthy son, along came her sister, Anne and Henry became obsessed with her, partly because she rejected him at first. And then because he believed she would be able to do exactly as her sister did and give him healthy children. Unfortunately, she was not her sister, and each conception is genetically an individual, plus more then likely Henry had inherited some type of genetic problem which caused reproductive problems as those that happened. Also it is amazing how many of Henry’s ancestors were related to each other in some way or another, just like Queen Victoria and her husband. Thank goodness today’s royals can marry who they choose rather then only other royals.

    1. maritzal says:

      wow very interesting i also still think and will always think mary’s children were HENRY’S children but we will never know for sure unless he can be checked

  26. maritzal says:

    i understand that back then there was no way of knowing if he suffered from mental illness because there was no medical way i guess like they say the older you get and i also think that maybe hes ancestors were all related maybe that had an impact on hes life hes future so i think that because back then they would marry people that were related i think that had a profound effect on hes genes so all that had everything to do with hes way of life and later life for he was a very different man when he got older

  27. Halley Comet says:

    Aside from Kell’s (which I knew nothing about so thanks for publishing this!) diabetes of any type can affect many systems.

    In addition to the “Unhealed leg ulcers” there is a fairly rare condition called “Charcott Syndrome” where the bones of the foot and leg arre weakened and break(crumble) easily and the patient might not always KNOW that they are broken–nerve damage can mask some of this and even today a lot of MD’s have never heard of this or don’t know what to look FOR. I was mis-diagnosed after a slip on ice that did not cause a fall but did jam my foot into a frozen mud ridge; I then sat on planes for 12 hours to get to my mothers funeral.

    By the time I got where I was going I had a VERY swollen foot/ankle that oddly did not hurt. I was told I had an “Infection”. It was only after I got home days later and was told I had a DIFFERENT “infection” that I took myself off to another ER and had an x-ray and discovered that ALL of the bones in the foot were broken; the ankle joint was shattered AND the lower end of the shin bone was jaggedly broken.

    If the bones are not treated properly this leads to migrating bone shards which can surface or get infected; something called a “Marrow Embolism” can kill you as the marrow leaks and circulates OR this can cause BRAIN FUNCTION PROBLEMS. I emphasize this as many people who have had this problem inc myself have had emotion and memory problems while this was going on.

    In my case I tried to heal this for a year and in the end had the leg amputated–something Henry would only have had done in extreme measure and they would not have known what they were looking at. After that the memory and emotional issues were much improved.

    Diabetes can happen–any type–at any time. It can cause quick problems not the least of which are circulatory–inc impotence–and emotional problems along with a host of other problems. Some infections in the body can CAUSE your pancreas to fail. I remember reading that his wounds reeked–a hallmark of untreated infection and possible gangrene. Surprisingly some types of infections and gangrene don’t kill you fast either!

    AS to DNA—it might not be ness to have a whole intact 500 year old body–is there HAIR in some locket somewhere? Teeth? Even some baby teeth contain enough DNA using the newest extraction methods to sometimes get enough to do testing.

  28. Susan says:

    These are very interesting comments so many different opinions I have to say we all speculate ! I honestly think it was the environment he lived in that made him the man he became and the fact he could have Been a diabetic. Living with diabetes doesn’t normally make u a murderer but I will say there not easy people to live with . There personalities totally change believe me I know I live with it every day . Depression , terrible temper out burst and today we have medication to help ease there problems back then they never new this illness existed . What must have it had been like surrounded by hundreds of people day in day out having to live up to this image of a king not an easy life by today’s standards it’s no wonder he became paranoid ! why we can’t exhume his remains and put some iof these theory’s to rest really frustrates me they did it with Richard 111 ? This is a part of history that saddens me he destroyed so many people’s lives with his cruel behaviour and yet I admire him for taking on Rome and vaoius other aspects of his life u could say I’m fascinated by Henry as are many others !!

  29. Laura says:

    As a scientist I have always believed there were physical problems with Henry regarding the number of miscarriages, stillbirths, and dead infants. Has anyone done a true statistical analysis of this? I would love to see the results. The introduction of the Kell Blood Group theory is a good one. I believe it IS possible. There is most likely a lot of co-morbidity going on also. We also cannot measure all of his behaviour by today”s yardstick. Even the value of human life changes over time. I also have believed that part of what transpired with Anne was because she made an excellent mistress but not a good queen in Henry’s eyes. Once she became his wife, her job was to shut up and breed. We all know that was not in her character. Henry was not capable of dealing with that. He believed himself to be all-powerful and was at the very least a mini-monster in the last portion of his life. He truly earned his place as the best known king of the 1500’s

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