Sweating sickness first reared its ugly head in England in summer 1485 and there were four further outbreaks – in 1508, 1517, 1528 and 1551 – before it completely disappeared in England, never to be seen in that land again. Anne Boleyn, Thomas Boleyn and George Boleyn caught it in summer 1528 and survived, but others, including Mary Boleyn’s husband William Carey and William Compton, Henry VIII’s Groom of the Stool, were not so lucky.

In the following video, I examine its symptoms, the epidemics, who was affected, treatments and remedies, and theories about its cause. I hope you enjoy it.

There are now 22 videos on The Anne Boleyn Files YouTube channel so do have a good browse.

Sweating SicknessI have also written a book on Sweating Sickness. Here are the details:

MadeGlobal’s History in a Nutshell Series aims to give readers a good grounding in a historical topic in a concise, easily digestible and accessible way.

Claire Ridgway, author and creator of The Anne Boleyn Files, is known for her easy-going style, but with an emphasis on good history and sound research. In Sweating Sickness in a Nutshell, Claire Ridgway examines what the historical sources say about the five epidemics of the mystery disease which hit England between 1485 and 1551, and considers the symptoms, who it affected, the treatments, theories regarding its cause and why it only affected English people.

Paperback: 50 pages
Also available on Kindle (ASIN B00N4VWI70)
Publisher: MadeGlobal Publishing/CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (August 30, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 150099622X
ISBN-13: 978-1500996222
Available on Amazon.com, Amazon UK and Barnes & Noble.


  • T Forrestier, Tractatus contra pestilentiam thenasmonem et dissinteriam, Rouen, 1490, quoted in The English Sweating Sickness (Sudor Anglicus): A Reappraisal, John A. H. Wylie and Leslie H. Collier.
  • Hall’s Chronicle, Edward Hall
  • “A boke, or counseill, against the disease commonly called the sweate or sweating sicknesse” (1552), John Caius
  • “The English sweating sickness of 1551: an epidemic anatomized”, A Dyer, Med. Hist., 1997
  • “The English Sweating Sickness, 1485 – 1551: A Viral Pulmonary Disease?”, Mark Taviner, Guy Thwaites and Vanya Gant
  • “The Correspondence of Erasmus: Letters 1356-1534, 1523-1524” by Desiderius Erasmus, R. A. B. Mynors, Alexander Dalzell
  • On the Special Susceptibility of the Fair-haired Races of Europe for Contracting Sweating Sickness by Dr Arthur Bordier, Anthropology Society of Paris, Meeting of March 3, 1881
  • A History of Epidemics In Britain, Volume I (1891), Charles Creighton
  • Population, Plague, and the Sweating Sickness Population, Plague, and the Sweating Sickness: Demographic Movements in Late Fifteenth-Century England, R. S. Gottfried, Journal of British Studies, Vol. 17, No. 1 (Autumn, 1977), pp. 12-37
  • Were the English Sweating Sickness and the Picardy Sweat Caused by Hantaviruses?, P. Heyman, L. Simons and C. Cochez, 7 January 2014, Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI)
  • Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 2: 1509-1519, 945
  • Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 2: 1515-1518

Related Post