The answer is: a concussive head injury, which caused him to suffer from regular migraines, moodiness, memory problems, and impulse control in his later life. The end result for England was a succession of six queens, two of which were beheaded, as well as the creation of an entirely new religion, with himself at its head.
For centuries, historians have pondered the change in King Henry VIII from an even tempered and cautious thinker to a paranoid tyrant, suggesting the side effects of syphilis, diabetes or Cushing syndrome as possible causes. However, researchers at Yale University now think they have found the true reason behind Henry VII’s notorious change of character and it has more to do with the many head injuries he sustained during his active younger years than his high sugar intake or his active sexual life.
Strong and robust, Henry VIII enjoyed jousting and hunting, reportedly falling off of his horse and hitting his head on more than one occasion, and even surviving a lance throw to his face that left him dazed. One one particular occasion, his armoured allergy horse actually fell on him and left him unconscious for two whole hours. These repeated blows to his head may have damaged his brain in a similar way to how repeated tackles now threaten the mental health of NFL players today.
It’s an intriguing new version of historic events which also elicits concern for our modern-day NFL warriors, many of whom now also struggle with the long-term effects of numerous head injuries. More than anything, it also cautions the rest of us to take proper care of our own heads while enjoying our favourite outdoor activities. Bicycle helmet, anyone?
Excerpt: “Personality changes, memory loss, angry outbursts and progressive dementia are hallmarks of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a progressive degenerative brain disease resulting from repeated blows to the head. More than 100 football players have been diagnosed, postmortem, with CTE. In the past two weeks, two former Super Bowl champions were added to the list: Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler, who died recently at age 69, and 27-year-old Giants safety Tyler Sash, dead from an accidental overdose of painkillers in September”.