Mysticism and Medicine in Tudor England and Book Giveaway

Hunter S. Jones
Hunter S. Jones

As part of the blog/book tour for her latest novel Phoenix Rising: A Novel of Anne Boleyn, Hunter is here again on The Anne Boleyn Files to share a guest article with us – welcome Hunter! MadeGlobal Publishing is also offering one lucky Anne Boleyn Files follower the chance to win a copy of Hunter’s new novel, see bottom of post for more information. Over to Hunter…

When we think of Tudor England, various images flash through our mind. Kings, many queens, dashing courtiers, spies, and ruthless intrigues enter the mix. Add a dash of Renaissance fashion and religious upheaval and you have a heady, or often headless, concoction of brutality and inspiration. All at the same time. Tudor England was the springboard into The Empire and the seed of the modern world.

We look at the savagery and dogged pursuit of the throne by the ‘long shot’ king, Henry VII. His surviving son, Henry VIII changed the face of Europe for ever when he founded the Church of England. His daughter, another ‘long shot’ set the standard for today’s world through industry, exploration and education.

That’s where we find Henry VIII – between two worlds, with one foot in Medieval England, its customs and superstitions, and the other in the Elizabethan Age of Gloriana. We often forget that about Henry, due to his fixation on siring a male heir. But, there he is. We know of his love of women. That’s why we are all followers of The Anne Boleyn Files. Yet, we know his flaws. Which attracts us more? It is the duality of Henry and the Henrician Court that has held the public’s attention for five hundred years.

Henry VIII had a foot in the bloodiest family feud in the history of the world, now known to us as the War of the Roses. When Henry VII overcame the forces of Richard III, England began the most peaceful era it had known for over one hundred years. His father’s frugality lead to a more prosperous kingdom, too.

1491_Henry_VIII by Joos van Cleve

Henry’s other foot was the legacy of his daughter with Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I. His daughter, not his son, became one of the most powerful and beloved rulers of England. Gloriana. Good Queen Bess. Her reign opened England to a level of wealth and power the country had never known. Eventually, it led to the Stuarts and evolved into the United Kingdom. No matter how we view the Tudor Dynasty, their reigns—although brutal and barbaric—eventually gave England a place on the world’s stage that the country had never known. More about that at a later date.

Let’s get back to Henry VIII. We all know about the political and religious upheavals, all the wives, etc., and etc. Today, I want to focus on the bridge between old and new which was experienced during his reign. especially when it came to the medical arts. Let’s look at the effect Henry’s health had on the country he ruled.


Henry VIII had a keen interest medicine. He founded the Royal College of Physicians in 1518. He combined The Barbers Company of London and the Guild of Surgeons to form the Company of Barber-Surgeons in 1540. His administration passed seven Acts of Parliament to regulate and license various medical practitioners. Aided by Sir Thomas More, Henry oversaw changes in the water supplies and sewers. Henry literally attempted to clean up London.

But, what about this? As I understand it, this law is still in effect in the United Kingdom.

Summary of The Herbalist Charter of King Henry VIII:

It is well known that the Surgeons who are organized under their own trade guild and recognized by law, have done nothing but tend to their own lavish financial enrichment, have done nothing to ease the distressed patient, but have spent an enormous amount of time suing and harassing honest persons who have the knowledge of nature and how to use this knowledge, however obtained, and generously minister to the sick.

It is also well known that Surgeons will not provide services to the sick unless they receive great sums of money and even then, often cause harm to their patients.

For this reason, from this time and forevermore it shall be lawful for every person who lives in any part of the Realm of England or any of its dominions, and who has knowledge and experience of the healing nature of herbs, roots and waters, or the operation of same, to be free to treat the sick without “suit, vexation, trouble, penalty or loss of their goods.”

Hence, we see that Henry VIII had a keen interest in better living through chemistry, or at least pharmaceuticals. Henry kept an apothecary cabinet in his own chambers. He personally prepared medicines in the form of salves and ointments from ingredients such as ground pearls and white lead for the treatment of his ailments, ‘An Oyntment devised by the kinges Majesty made at Westminster. And devised at Grenwich to take away inflammations and to cease payne and heale ulcers called gray plaster.’ He even prepared remedies for his friends. These recipes can be found today in the British Library.

The English and Welsh belief of the Medieval Mystical Tradition, especially by females, is well known through literature. Think of the tales of Avalon and you get the picture. There was a thin veil between Magic and medicine during the reign of Henry VIII. What we see as magic seemed perfectly logical and even scientific to that era. Magic often contained ideas which were accepted practices by all levels of society. Knights told of balms, called “weapon salves” which would protect them and even heal them if they were applied before a battle.

To heal a toothache, the wise woman would write ‘Jesus Christ for mercy’s sake, take away this toothache’ three times before saying the words aloud and then burning the paper. Another cure for a fever was for the healer to write ‘Arataly, Rataly, Ataly, Taly, aly, Ly’ on paper, and wrap the paper around the patients arm for nine days. Each day the patient was to say three paternosters to St. Peter and St. Paul. At the end of the ninth day, they were to remove the paper and burn it.

Then as now, the belief in the cure often aids the patient in healing. They called it Magic or medicine; now we call it science.

Likewise, astrology was not a form of entertainment. It was a highly respected medical theory taught at the universities. The stars, planets and the moon effected everything, especially as they orbited around the earth, or so they believed during this period of time. It could be seen by watching the tides, the mating seasons of animals and the growth of plants seeded at certain planetary cycles.

star chart

When a patient visited a physician, the visit would begin by asking for your date of birth. From there, your horoscope would be cast via a star map. Then a horoscope would be cast for the exact moment your ailment began, so that the physician could cast the horoscope of the illness and relate it to that of the patient. In prescribing medications, the healer would ask which parts of the body were affected because each area of the body comes under the influence of different planets. You would be treated according to which planet ruled the medicine best suited to your ailment. Those who grew plants for medicine would plant seeds at the new moon and harvest at the full moon to get the greatest benefits from them.

According to Susan Bordo, the best-selling author of The Creation of Anne Boleyn, “Astrology was not a con, nor was it incompatible with religion in the 16th century. Indeed, it was considered to be a way to understand God’s divine plan, and was viewed to be as grounded in science as that of the study of the changing seasons.”

From all this, you can see how Henry VIII, as the bridge between the medieval world and the world of the Elizabethan era, would turn to his female Welsh physician at the most crucial point of his reign, the execution of Anne Boleyn. From all this, Phoenix Rising, my fictional account of the last hour of Anne Boleyn, was born.

Available for purchase now on –


This article is just one stop on Hunter’s blog/book tour, here is the schedule so you can enjoy every stop:

04_Phoenix Rising_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL


To be in with a chance of winning a paperback copy of Hunter’s Phoenix Rising: A Novel of Anne Boleyn, simply leave a comment below saying why you’d like to win this book. The closing date for comments is midnight Tuesday 26th May and one lucky winner will be picked at random shortly after and contacted via email. Only one comment per person please. This giveaway is open internationally.

About the Author

Deb Hunter publishes as Hunter S. Jones. Her best-selling novel, “September Ends” won awards for Best Independently Published Novel and Best Romance, based on its unique blending of poetry and prose. Her story “The Fortune Series” received best-selling status on Amazon in the Cultural Heritage and Historical Fiction categories. She has been published by H3O Eco mag, LuxeCrush, Chattanooga Times-Free Press, and is now a freelance contributor for the Atlanta Journal Constitution. She has recently been accepted into the prestigious Rivendell Writers Colony. Her arts, music and culture blogs on are filled with eclectic stories regarding music, writing, the arts and climate awareness. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her Scottish born husband. Her undergrad degree is in History with an emphasis on the English Renaissance and Reformation.

For more information please visit Hunter S. Jones’ website at You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.


  • “500 Years Later” by CR Chalmers and EJ Chaloner, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.
  • “King Henry VIII’s Medical World” by Dr. Elizabeth T Hurren, Senior Lecturer History of Medicine at Oxford Brookes University.
  • “The Medieval Mystical Tradition in England” by E.A. Jones, Exeter Symposium VIII.
  • “Anne and Elizabeth: Consulting the Stars for Elizabeth’s Birth” by Susan Bordo –

Related Post

39 thoughts on “Mysticism and Medicine in Tudor England and Book Giveaway”
  1. I would love to read this book. It sounds really interesting and totally different from any other book out there

  2. Tudor-England has always fascinated me! It’s such an interesting time.
    This book would be a nive addition to my bookcollection.

  3. I am such a sucker for anything pertaining to Tudor England, so this would be a great book to add to my collection.

  4. Im very interested in reading this book. As an American Tudor historian I have not read anything on this subject; and would be very interested to read this. In America it is hard to find Books on Tudor history, thank You

  5. This sounds fascinating. I’m obsessed with the practices of medicine in Tudor England and would love to win this book. Thanks!!

  6. This book sounds wonderful. I’d love to win it. I’m currently studying vortex healing & am very interested in the medicine & healing styles of Tudor England. I love the blend of western knowledge & mysticism, which is probably closest to the truth.

  7. I am fascinated with the Tudors. I read everything i can get my hands on regarding them.

  8. I would really like to read this book, because I want to know more about the Tudor world and the practices of that era in both medicine and courtly manners!! Having studied medicine and history both, I am always intrigued by the past!!

  9. Having read her previously published work which was beautifully written and thought provoking, it will be fascinating to see how she has woven fact and her creativity into this novel.

  10. I’ve never read a Tudor book that involved astrology before and I think it will be interesting to read about how it was used inTudor times.

  11. I have spent the past few months reading about The Tudor family story, particularly Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth 1. I am determined to read everything I can lay my hands on about Anne and this book give away would be a great help toward my quest – was she hero or villain, a puppet or a manipulative vixen. So many questions!

  12. This is such a unique take on a book. I would love to read it to see more & use it as a launching point for my own additional research on this fascinating aspect of Tudor life!

  13. I am interested ein anything having to do with Anne Boleyn or the Tudors. This book sounds like an exciting read.

  14. I love historical fiction and devoured book after book on Tudor England. I’m dying to see Hunter’s twist on the period!! I love her Fortune Series!!! ❤️

  15. I am a Registered Nurse with a passion for history. I am especially excited about this book as it encompasses not only my passion for the history of medicine but also for Tudor England.

  16. I’m very interested in anything about the Tudors … and your book sounds like a truly original slant on the period.


  17. I have read the summary and now i am so much interested to read the whole book that i dont know if i will be able to sleep tonight!! 🙂
    btw…i dont even imagine to live in tudor era and have a toothache….interasting detail!

  18. I would love to read this book, as it would give an idea how both Anne and Jane were thinking at that time in their lives, sounds really interesting.

  19. I have to point out that when Henry Tudor invaded in 1485, yes he did usher in a time of peace and stability to a certain extent, but the previous 16 years had actually been totally peaceful in England and that both Edward IV and Richard III were good administrators, the latter having kept the north of England stable for several years under his brother. Many of the systems and laws brought in by both Yorkist Kings were kept by the Tudors as they were progressive and one of the most stable in Europe. The first 14 years of Henry’s reign were actually anything but peaceful, with another battle at East Stoke one year after Bosworth and at least four other rebellions and pretenders popping up that made his new rule insecure. It was only after the deaths of Warbeck and Warwick that his reign became stable. Henry did use thrift to save money and made the economy as well as the treasury stable and good, but his son soon spent all of that. The Tudors may have ended the Wars of the Roses, but they did not have the peaceful reigns that is often claimed. They did keep us safe from foreign invaders but they also put us more at risk from invasion from France, Spain and Scotland, having terrible relations with the latter. I agree that the Tudor period saw a long stable period and many things flourished out of this; but Henry Tudor did not have it all his own way for some period of time.

    I would love to win this book as I find the mix of medicine and magic in these times fascinating; the use of science and magic may sound strange to us but to them it was perfectly natural.

    Good luck.

  20. Did I read correctly in the post that Henry had a female Welsh physician at the time of Anne’s execution? If so, this is the first I have heard of this, could someone provide more information? Thanks.

  21. An intriguing side of Tudor times that has been perhaps neglected, so thank you for writing such a book and for a chance of winning it.

  22. As a direct descendant of the House of Howard, Anne and Catherine’s cousin, (Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, my distant grandfather), I am eager to learn all that I can about Anne’s life and times. Phoenix Rising promises a different perspective and I look forward to reading it.

  23. I’ve been a Tudorphile my whole life, and I am very interested in Medieval mediciine, so this book would definitely be something I’d love to read!

  24. I don’t mind paying authors for their work so I just want to comment without putting my name in the hat.

    I have always found Henry’s comments about marrying Anne due to some sortileges quite fascinating; while some thought he was accusing Anne of witchcraft, others think he meant that the astrologers had been adamant the baby she was carrying was male so he went ahead and married her without the consent of the Pope and against his own hesitations.

    I think that really puts a funny spin on the whole religious component. Then again, in the USA, we had a First Lady who would check the stars for the right days to do things at the same time being considered a religious conservative. And that was the 1980s, not 500 yard ago.

    Best of luck with the book!

  25. I am so excited to read a new book about Anne Boleyn. I am such a Tudor fan and winning this would be wonderful!

  26. I feel a little intrigued about the premise of the book ,PHOENIX RISING . Although I still question the ( real ) reasoning behind Anne Boleyn’s passing reading a fresh book with a new twist might prove enlightening .

  27. I would love to win this book. I am fascinated by the mystical aspects as interpreted during the Renaissance. There seems to be a thin line between “healers” and “witches”. Unfortunately, so many healers were burned as witches as a result. To see how this ties in with the Tudor court during this apex of intrigue, promises to be quite a read. I look forward to reading this book!

  28. I’m a direct descendant of Anne Boleyn through the Harris branch of the family. What I would do to receive this book!

  29. I love anything Tudor, and also am fascinated by magic/medicine. I’m writing a children’s book where a character time travels to this period, and the info in this book would be valuable research. I recently visited Hever Castle and am devouring all I can about Anne and the atmosphere and beliefs of the time.

    Good luck to Deb / Hunter on her book!

  30. I’ve been watching your videos on You Tube. Often, at the end of a video, you will refer to earlier videos, plus links to other materials.

    These are really hard to find.

    I do enjoy your info, and I believe that, among the many historical materials I see on the internet and on YouTube, especially as it pertains to this period, yours are some of the best. But people come to you via many channels, and surely it could be easier to find those other materials you reference.

    I do appreciate the work you do.

    1. Thank you for watching my videos. The links to earlier videos or material are always in the video description, which you can find on YouTube under the video, just expand the description, and I often have related videos as end screens so that you click on them at the end of the video too. I try and make it as easy as possible for people to find. There isn’t another way of doing it because of the fact that people view them in different ways, but if you’re watching it on social media rather than YouTube you can always click on the button to take you to YouTube,

      Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *