King Henry had six wives, but only one was granted the privilege of being buried with the ruler. In this article, you will encounter the arrangements that the king made regarding his burial and additional insight into the disease that took his life.
Most historians feel that Henry may have contracted syphilis as a young man and that it became a chronic issue throughout his life. It is the belief that he infected at least some of his wives , especially Catherine of Aragon. The only child of Catherine’s to survive was Mary, who had been described as a “puny child who, even in girlhood, looked old, had defective vision, and a cranial conformation rather typical of congenital syphilis.”
In his will, Henry makes arrangements that his burial include a stately pomp held at “our college of Windsor.” He refers to his body as a “cadaver.” He makes a request that the bones of “our true and loving wife Queen Jane be put also.” Historians feel that because of this last wish, he favored this wife the most since he wanted to be joined with Jane in death.
The majority of his vast fortune was set aside for charity, and follows up with a mentioning of succession , an issue made complicated because of his many marriages. He ordered that his successors be the son of Jane Seymour, Edward (despite his sickly condition), followed by Edward’s children. Mary Tudor and her heirs were placed next in line. The last child to rule would be Elizabeth (the daughter of Anne Boleyn), who was the bastard child of the king. Even though the children were plagued with illness, death, and other obstacles, all three children ruled England at some point in time.
According to a physician researching the alleged case of syphilis regarding the king, he points out 13 medical reasons that support the belief that Henry was chronically contagious. There is more than the evidence of miscarriages associated with this widely held belief. For example, the king suffered a skin disease when he was 22 years old. When he was 34 years of age, he started to battle severe headaches. At 44, he started to see leg ulcerations that would not heal. The 45-year-old Henry started to notice a deformity develop on the right side of his nose, which is sometimes linked to syphilitic gummata (or rubbery tumor). Other signs of the disease include violent rages and additional fits.
Interestingly, a definite diagnosis of the disease is actually possible today if microscopic bone analysis and antibody tests were conducted on a splinter of the bone belonging to King Henry’s skeleton. This piece of evidence rests in the royal vault located underneath St. George’s Chapel in Windsor. Gaining papal permission to test the Shroud of Turin was a much easier feat to achieve than getting a look at the DNA of King Henry.