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    Ikram, Muhammad Qaiser Sajjad, Fazle Hakim and Salardini, Arash 2016. The head that wears the crown: Henry VIII and traumatic brain injury. Journal of Clinical Neuroscience, Vol. 28, p. 16.



  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 November 2010

Henry VIII's first two wives experienced multiple pregnancies culminating in late-term miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal mortality. After his fortieth birthday, the king's mental and physical health underwent rapid deterioration. In this article, we argue that both his reproductive troubles and his midlife pathologies can be explained if Henry VIII were positive for the Kell blood group. A Kell negative woman who has multiple pregnancies with a Kell positive male will suffer repeated miscarriages and death of Kell positive foetuses and term infants that occur subsequent to the first Kell positive pregnancy. This pattern is consistent with the pregnancies of Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. Additionally, Henry VIII may have suffered from McLeod syndrome, a genetic disorder of the Kell blood group system, which is a condition that causes physical and mental impairment consistent with his ailments.

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We are indebted to the anonymous reviewers and editors of the Historical Journal whose astute comments and recommendations greatly enhanced this article. Kyra Kramer would also like to thank Indiana University for allowing residents of Bloomington access to its library resources, thereby making her independent research possible.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

M. Keynes , ‘The personality and health of Henry VIII (1491–1547)’, Journal of Medical Biography, 13, (2005), pp. 174–83

I. Agbaje , ‘Increased concentrations of the oxidative DNA adduct 7,8-dihydro-8-oxo-2-deoxyguanosine in the germ line of men with type 1 diabetes’, Reproductive BioMedicine Online, 16, (2008), pp. 401–9

J. C. Santiago et al., ‘Current clinical management of anti-Kell alloimmunization in pregnancy’, European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 136, (2008), pp. 151–4

K. Mayne et al., ‘The significance of anti-Kell sensitization in pregnancy’, Clinical and Laboratory Hematology, 12, (1990), pp. 379–85

W. L. Marsh , and C. M. Redman , ‘The Kell blood group system: a review’, Transfusion, 30, (1990), pp. 158–67

K. Dhodapkar and F. Blei , ‘Treatment of hemolytic disease of the newborn caused by anti-Kell antibody with recombinant erythropoietin’, Journal of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, 23, (2001), pp. 6970

M. Miranda et al., ‘Phenotypic variability of a distinct deletion in McLeod syndrome’, Movement Disorders, 22, (2007), pp. 1358–61

B. M. Wimer , and W. L. Marsh et al., ‘Heamatological changes associated with the McLeod phenotype of the Kell blood group system’, British Journal of Haematology, 36, (1977), pp. 219–24

A. Danek et al., ‘McLeod neuroacanthocytosis: genotype and phenotype’, Annual Neurology, 50, (2001), pp. 755–64

H. Jung and H. Haker , ‘Schizophrenia as a manifestation of McLeod-Neuroacanthocytosis syndrome’, Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 65, (2004), pp. 722–3

M. Wada et al., ‘An unusual phenotype of McLeod syndrome with late onset axonal neuropathy’, Journal of Neurology and Neurosurgical Psychiatry, 74, (2003), pp. 1697–9

M. F. Shore , ‘Henry VIII and the crisis of generativity’, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 2, (1972), pp. 359–90

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