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Did a knock on the noggin drive Henry VIII bonkers?

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2016 - Spring


In the last 10 years of his life, the English monarch suffered from memory lapses, fits of rage, uncontrollable impulses, headaches, insomnia, and perhaps even impotence. According to a paper published in the Journal of Clinical Neuroscience, these symptoms may have come from too much jousting. Yale researchers studied Henry VIII’s letters and other sources of the time to document his medical history and events possibly related to his ailments. (He died in 1547.) Their findings support the notion that traumatic brain injuries from jousting may have caused the king’s problems. Historians, said behavioral neurologist Arash Salardini, M.D., co-director of the Yale Memory Clinic and senior author of the study, point out that the king’s behavior changed after a 1536 joust when a horse fell on him and knocked him out. “It is intriguing to think that modern European history may have changed forever because of a blow to the head,” Salardini said.

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