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How did King Henry get this disease when syphilis was a disease originating from the Americas?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The currently accepted theory for this is that he didn't. Although there is some debate as to what his exact problem was, it doesn't appear to have been Syphilis.

The theory that Henry suffered from syphilis has been dismissed by most historians. A more recent theory suggests that Henry's medical symptoms are characteristic of untreated Type II diabetes. Alternatively, his wives' pattern of pregnancies and his mental deterioration have led some to suggest that the king may have been Kell positive and suffered from McLeod syndrome. According to another study, Henry VIII's history and body morphology was probably the result of traumatic brain injury after his 1536 jousting accident, which in turn led to a neuroendocrine cause of his obesity. This analysis identifies growth hormone deficiency (GHD) as the source for his increased adiposity but also significant behavioural changes noted in his later years, including his multiple marriages.

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  • Columbus sailed the ocean blue in fourteen hundred and ninety two; a full 55 years before Henry died in 1547. Henry was not known for his chaste ways, so it is quite conceivable that he would have been an early contractor of a new venereal disease.
  • The most recent excavations at Pompeii have revealed remains two twin teen-aged sisters, apparently in a brothel, with apparent syphilitic symptoms; if so, the disease may not have originated in the Americas after all:

This remains contentious and unresolved however.

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I'm of the opinion that the evidence for a New World origin is far more compelling. However, you are quite correct to point out that this is still an unsettled issue. –  T.E.D. Aug 9 '13 at 14:15

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