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NAMES IN THE NEWS : Henry VIII Termed Victim of Scurvy

August 30, 1989|From Times Wire Services

LONDON — King Henry VIII, renowned for his appetite for women and power, was killed by his craving for meat, a historian has concluded.

Susan Maclean Kybett, writing in the September issue of History Today, contends that Henry died in 1547 of scurvy, a disease caused by a lack of fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C. The king, Kybett said, displayed a number of symptoms of scurvy: swollen, ulcerated legs, bad breath, frequent colds, constipation, lethargy, forgetfulness, bloating and wild mood swings.

Significantly, Henry was usually sick during Lent, when fasting coincided with a lack of nutritious food, Kybett wrote. "But nobody in the Tudor era associated foods with health. They hoped in vain that the green and golden concoctions of the alchemist would bring a cure."

It was once believed that Henry, who died at age 56, succumbed to syphilis, but that theory has been discredited.

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