Congratulations to my fellow MadeGlobal author Seamus O’Caellaigh on the release of his book Pustules, Pestilence and Pain: Tudor Treatments and Ailments of Henry VIII. It is out now as a kindle book and a full-colour paperback, and is perfect for anyone interested in Henry VIII’s health problems and Tudor remedies.

Here’s the blurb:

Henry VIII lived for 55 years and had many health issues, particularly towards the end of his reign.

In Pustules, Pestilence and Pain, historian Seamus O’Caellaigh has delved deep into the documents of Henry’s reign to select some authentic treatments that Henry’s physicians compounded and prescribed to one suffering from those ailments.

Packed with glorious full-colour photos of the illnesses and treatments Henry VIII used, alongside primary source documents, this book is a treat for the eyes and is full of information for those with a love of all things Tudor. Each illness and accident has been given its own section in chronological order, including first-hand accounts, descriptions of the treatments and photographic recreations of the treatment and ingredients.

Click here for more information on the book.

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6 thoughts on “New Henry VIII book – Pustules, Pestilence and Pain”
  1. Iv always been fascinated by the remedies the medical men of the day concocted for minor as well as more serious maladies, Henry V111 himself devised his own treatment for the sweating sickness which included treacle mixed with milk yuk, how they arrived at these choices I will never know, Henry as we all know suffered from badly ulcerated legs and his pain was worse because of the tight garters and bandages he wore, his doctors nor he realised these restricted the blood flow and made the problem worse, also he ate a high protein diet with with huge amounts of meat and little vegetables even though he loved fruit, this would have given him vitamin c but veg is also needed for roughage and he drank so much wine sweetened with sugar he developed, so it is thought diabetes, I would love to read this book but to be honest, I find the title sounds quite depressing, it seems to belong more in a witches cave than a normal bookshelf, I’d just like to add on seeing the news today, that Prince Harry is to wed on May 19th, the anniversary of Anne Boleyn’s death, I’m just wondering if any one else has noticed that?.

    1. I love the fact that everything was so closely recorded that we even know if the King had constipation and that at two in the morning the closed stool had a goodly siege. Pooh!!!!.

      It’s worse than that, I thought they said 18th which is Cup Final Day! Sorry Megahn and Harry, I have priorities. I really doubt either of them would have a clue the date is the Anniversary of Anne Boleyn. They are probably too wrapped in the preparation to even care.

      1. Congratulations to Harry and Meghan I hope she fits in well with the life of a member of the royal family, she’s used to the media and seems confident therefore she won’t find it that daunting I should imagine, it’s the rules and regulations that goes with it, according to some etiquette advisers she already committed several faux passé’s, speaking over Harry at their engagement interview and walking in front of him on their walkabout, instead of walking several paces behind, their also saying she won’t be able to sit crossed legged anymore and will have to get rid of her ripped jeans, as for her family, she’s estranged from her half brother who says he will gate crash the wedding if he’s not invited, that he won’t be able to do as Royal weddings are very strict on security particurlaly if the queens there, only those invited will be allowed in, it’s not just any old event where you can slip in the back door like at a pub reception or funeral, her old mate is already slagging her of and her sisters writing a book ha ha! I must admit I like a royal wedding something cheerful on the news apart from all the usual doom and gloom, it’s nice speculating about her wedding dress and so forth, and Mays a lovely month.

  2. Reading as part of my Kindle Unlimited, but will be buying as really great illustrations and it puts the injuries and remedies into the historic context. Henry was genuinely both afraid of diseases, (well you would if most things could kill) and interested in remedies. Like most courts a large number of medical and spiritual men served in case of sickness as you needed both. By Henry’s reign a few things were known about medical matters and during his reign how some parts of the internal plumbing worked. By 1525 the female antanomy was starting to be identified, if not really understood but while midwives may try to intervene, male doctors didn’t. Some medical herbs were recorded as having success and still form bssic medical prescription now, but some stuff was really out there. Henry had his own medical cabinet which contained many potions and he had made one up particularly for sore legs. It contained sorel which is good as as blending oil and soothing, but also a few things which although possibly antiseptic could also irritate. He had rose pills for piles. The herbs had to be picked at the right time of year and used fresh because later in the year if picked they were toxic. Every household had a herb garden, which was your household medical cabinet. Of course you also made use of the woods for mandrake and belladonna was never far from anyone in pain as was feverfew. I still use the latter to cure and prevent migraines. Today we know much more about the vitamin we need in food and fresh vegetables and how they work, which also means we know how to metabolize them and understand if we are deficient but they didn’t even know they existed. They told pregnant women to eat the most aweful odd things which were probably bad for them. The rich court ate literally anything. If it moved you could catch, kill and cook it and now more and more exotic herbs and spices and foods found their way to the table and medical prescription. While no doubt a lot of things worked for most every day fevers and colds, the more dangerous diseases you just had to hope that you were spared. The sweat took thousands on each of its known appearances, but we know Cardinal Wolsey had it and survived, Anne had it and lived and so did the Duke of Norfolk.

    Henry did have several illnesses but the fact he overcame many which could kill, such as tertiary fever or smallpox, malaria, which does reoccur often when you have had it, often every year or two, all shows he had a strong constitution and they didn’t affect him long term. His accidents were more serious, as they affected his legs, his migraines became serious and he was less able to be active in the last decade of his life. He had a very serious accident in 1536 and put on a lot of weight as his mobility and depression increased, had mood changes and the other things which accompany obesity have been suggested, although we cannot prove he had them. It was as his health declined that he became interested in establishing more scientific methods of looking at medical needs and regulations. Thus he established in 1546 the first School of Medicine and made a new registration and licensing law. There is a famous picture of him enthroned, surrounded by kneeling doctors all receiving their scrolls. Henry was a learned man, as were his three surviving children and we see the interest in medicine and science, mixed with astrology and astronomy, which were not seperated to the extent they are now, continued down the family line. Elizabeth was particularly interested in astrology as is evidenced by her pet quack Dr Dee. He was also a brilliant mathematical scholar, which was another aspect of medical practice at this time.

    1. Yes the Kings bowel movements were a source of great interest, what I find very hard to understand is why he had servants to wipe his bum after he’d finished his toilet, surely he could have dun that himself, mind you, Prince Charles has a valet who squeezes his toothpaste for him, can’t they do these things themselves, to be a groom of the stool in Henrys day was considered a great honour and a sign of prestige as you were closer to the King than any other, having attendance on his most intimate needs, apart from his wife of course, but not for all the gold in the world could I find it in me to wipe Henry V111’s bottom especially when he grew so fat and his legs stunk.

  3. I don’t actually think the groom of the stool wiped his bum, but handed him the towels to do that himself. What I wouldn’t like to do is study the poo to determine his royal health. Having a servant squeeze your toothpaste, well, these people really are spoilt. I have no doubts anyone not invited to the wedding will get turned away. It’s in Windsor Castle and you go through airport type security just to visit for the day. The staff are all forces and of the elite ranks so good luck, mr half brother, I think you are in for a right royal shock. Do you know about the tunnels under Windsor that lead to an underground road to Buckingham Palace? They came into their own during the war when Queen Elizabeth and George V stayed at Buckingham Palace during the day to inspire London and drove in secret to the safety of fortress Windsor every night. The Georgian and Victorian archives being opened up on line and Inside Windsor and Inside Buckingham Palace, very useful eyes into the secret lives of the royal family. Rich, lazy, spoilt pussy cats, but we are strangely fascinated by them, maybe because we humans are naturally nosy and those with secret lives we just want to know everything.

    I won’t be bothering with the wedding but I hope they have a great day and life together and the press give them some privacy, especially if they have children.

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