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A NEW EXPLANATION FOR THE REPRODUCTIVE WOES AND MIDLIFE DECLINE OF HENRY VIII*

  • CATRINA BANKS WHITLEY (a1) and KYRA KRAMER
Abstract
ABSTRACT

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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Corresponding author
6715 Cypress Village Dr., Sugar Land, TX 77479, USAcatrina_whitley@prodigy.net
4404 Weymouth Lane, Bloomington, IN 47408, USAkyrathered@gmail.com
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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.

Footnotes
References
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1 D. Starkey, Henry: virtuous prince (London, 2008), p. 3.

2 C. Erickson, Great Harry: the extravagant life of Henry VIII (New York, NY, 1980), p. 10.

3 H. Jung, ‘McLeod syndrome: a clinical review’, in Adrian Danek, ed., Neuroacanthocytosis syndromes (New York, NY, 2004), pp. 45–53, at p. 45.

4 K. Lindsey, Divorced, beheaded, survived: a feminist reinterpretation of the wives of Henry VIII (Reading, MA, 1995), p. 135.

5 D. Starkey, Six wives: the queens of Henry VIII (New York, NY, 2003), pp. 628–9.

6 Starkey, Henry: virtuous prince, p. 308.

7 Ibid.

8 Starkey, Six wives, p. 274.

9 L. B. Smith, Henry VIII: the mask of royalty (Chicago, IL, 1982), p. 128.

10 Starkey, Six wives, p. 274.

11 Ibid., p. 203.

12 Ibid., p. 273.

13 Ibid., pp. 463, 473–4.

14 S. Lipscomb, 1536: the year that changed Henry VIII (Oxford, 2009), pp. 66–7; E. Ives, The life and death of Anne Boleyn (Oxford, 2004), pp. 191–2.

15 Keynes M., ‘The personality and health of Henry VIII (1491–1547)’, Journal of Medical Biography, 13, (2005), pp. 174–83, at p. 180.

16 D. Starkey, The reign of Henry VIII: personalities and politics (London, 1985).

17 M. L. Powell and D. C. Cook, ‘Treponematosis: inquiries into the nature of a protean disease’, in M. L. Powell and D. C. Cook, eds., The myth of syphilis: the natural history of treponematosis in North America (Gainesville, FL, 2005), pp. 9–62, at pp. 24–30.

18 Agbaje I., ‘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.

19 Murphy C., ‘Second opinions: history winds up in the waiting room’, The Atlantic, 287, (2001), pp. 1618.

20 R. Hutchinson, The last days of Henry VIII: conspiracy, treason and heresy at the court of the dying tyrant (London, 2005), pp. 205–10.

21 Ives, Life and death, p. 190.

22 Erickson, Great Harry, p. 304.

23 Starkey, Six wives, pp. 123, 161; A. Fraser, The wives of Henry VIII (New York, NY, 1992), p. 136.

24 Lipscomb, 1536, p. 13.

25 Santiago J. C. 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; Baichoo V. and Bruce-Tagoe A., ‘Recurrent hydrops fetalis due to Kell allo-immunization’, Annals of Saudi Medicine, 20, (2000), pp. 415–16; M. E. Caine and E. Mueller-Heubach, ‘Kell sensitization in pregnancy’, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Jan. (1986), pp. 85–90; Bowman J. M. et al., ‘Maternal kell blood group alloimmunization’, Obstetrics and Gynecology, 79, (1992), pp. 239–44; Mayne K. et al., ‘The significance of anti-Kell sensitization in pregnancy’, Clinical and Laboratory Hematology, 12, (1990), pp. 379–85; Marsh W. L., and Redman C. M., ‘The Kell blood group system: a review’, Transfusion, 30, (1990), pp. 158–67; Berkowitz R. L. et al., ‘Death in utero due to Kell sensitization without excessive elevation of the Delta OD 450 value in amniotic fluid’, Obstetrics and Gynecology, 60, (1982), pp. 746–9; Goh J. T. et al., ‘Anti-Kell in pregnancy and hydrops fetalis’, Aust NZ Journal of Obstetrical Gynaecology, 33, (1993), pp. 210–11.

26 Dhodapkar K. and Blei F., ‘Treatment of hemolytic disease of the newborn caused by anti-Kell antibody with recombinant erythropoietin’, Journal of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, 23, (2001), pp. 6970, at p. 69.

27 Luban N. L. C., ‘Hemolytic disease of the newborn: progenitor cells and late effects’, New England Journal of Medicine, 38, (2008), pp. 829–31, at p. 31.

28 Goh et al., ‘Anti-Kell in pregnancy’, passim.

29 Berkowitz et al., ‘Death in utero’, passim.

30 Caine and Mueller-Heubach, ‘Kell sensitization’, passim.

31 Ibid., p. 87.

32 Luban, ‘Hemolytic disease’, p. 829; Zika Z. et al., ‘Massive fetomaternal transplacental hemorrhage as a perinatology problem, role of ABO fetomaternal compatibility – case studies’, Medical Science Monitor, 7, (2001), pp. 308–11.

33 Mayne et al., ‘Significance of anti-Kell’, p. 382.

34 Baichoo and Bruce-Tagoe, ‘Recurrent hydrops fetalis’, p. 415.

35 Dearth and incomplete obstetrical documentation among a few relatives makes it difficult to verify the Kell pattern among these individuals, yet the overall pattern of reproductive failure among Jacquetta's male descendants strongly suggests the presence of the Kell positive phenotype.

36 Miranda M. et al., ‘Phenotypic variability of a distinct deletion in McLeod syndrome’, Movement Disorders, 22, (2007), pp. 1358–61. McLeod syndrome is ‘characterized by absent Kx red blood cell (RBC) antigen and weak expression of Kell RBC antigens’.

37 Marsh W. L., ‘Biological roles of blood group antigens’, Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 63, (1990), pp. 455–60, at p. 458.

38 Wimer B. M., and Marsh W. L. et al., ‘Heamatological changes associated with the McLeod phenotype of the Kell blood group system’, British Journal of Haematology, 36, (1977), pp. 219–24, at p. 223. The Lyon effect is the inactivation of one of the X-chromosomes in female mammals in which one of the two X-chromosomes is not expressed.

39 Danek A. et al., ‘McLeod neuroacanthocytosis: genotype and phenotype’, Annual Neurology, 50, (2001), pp. 755–64. The basal ganglia are a group of nuclei in the brain called the caudate nucleus, putamen, and globus pallidus. In humans, the basal ganglia are believed to control a diverse group of functions, including motor control, cognition, learning, and emotions.

40 Jung, ‘McLeod syndrome’, p. 45.

41 Danek et al., ‘McLeod neuroacanthocytosis’, p. 761.

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

43 Ibid., p. 723.

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

45 Ives, Life and death, p. 190.

46 Danek et al., ‘McLeod neuroacanthocytosis’. pp. 757–60.

47 Smith, Henry VIII, p. 23.

48 Starkey, Reign of Henry VIII, p. 11.

49 Starkey, Henry: virtuous prince, p. 3.

50 J. J. Scarisbrick, Henry VIII (Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA, 1970), pp. 624–5.

51 Lindsey, Divorced, beheaded, survived, p. 64.

52 Smith, Henry VIII, pp. 23–4, 268.

53 Starkey, Henry: virtuous prince, p. 7.

54 Lipscomb, 1536, p. 205.

55 Smith, Henry VIII, p. 264.

56 Lipscomb, 1536, p. 184.

57 Starkey, Reign of Henry VIII, p. 13.

58 Smith, Henry VIII, p. 106.

59 Ibid., p. 267.

60 Ibid., p. 266.

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

62 Starkey, Six wives, p. 153.

63 Ibid., p. 293.

64 Scarisbrick, Henry VIII, p. 161.

65 Lindsey, Divorced, beheaded, survived, p. 71.

66 Ibid., p. 67.

67 Ibid., p. 80.

68 Smith, Henry VIII, p. 125.

69 Starkey, Six wives, p. 523.

70 Ibid., p. 523.

71 Scarisbrick, Henry VIII, p. 332.

72 Ibid., p. 167.

73 Ibid., p. 236.

74 Ives, Life and death, p. 155.

75 Lipscomb, 1536, p. 41.

76 Starkey, Reign of Henry VIII, p. 107.

77 Lipscomb, 1536, p. 195.

78 Ibid., pp. 193–201.

79 Scarisbrick, Henry VIII, p. 332.

80 Ives, Life and death, p. 154.

81 G. W. Bernard, The king's reformation (New Haven, CT, 2007), p. 153.

82 Lindsey, Divorced, beheaded, survived, pp. 54, 58.

83 Starkey, Six wives, p. 461.

84 Walker G., ‘Rethinking the fall of Anne Boleyn’, Historical Journal, 45, (2002), pp. 129, at pp. 28–9.

85 Ives, Life and death, pp. 193, 300.

86 Ibid., p. 321.

87 Walker, ‘Rethinking the fall’, pp. 4–5; Ives, Life and death, pp. 319–21.

88 Walker, ‘Rethinking the fall’, p. 4.

89 Ibid., p. 5.

90 Ives, Life and death, pp. 316–21.

91 Walker, ‘Rethinking the fall’, p. 29.

92 Starkey, Reign of Henry VIII, p. 126.

93 Smith, Henry VIII, p. 198.

94 Ibid., p. 591.

95 Walker, ‘Rethinking the fall’, p. 29.

96 Ives, Life and death, p. 351.

97 Ibid., p. 355.

98 Lipscomb, 1536, p. 195.

99 Scarisbrick, Henry VIII, p. 435.

100 Ibid., p. 353.

101 Lindsey, Divorced, beheaded, survived, p. 132.

102 Scarisbrick, Henry VIII, p. 341.

103 Starkey, Henry: virtuous prince, p. 306.

104 Ives, Life and death, p. 105.

105 Lipscomb, 1536, pp. 193–5.

106 Smith, Henry VIII, p. 164.

107 Starkey, Six wives, pp. 620–6.

108 Ibid., p. 627.

109 Lindsey, Divorced, beheaded, survived, p. 142.

110 Scarisbrick, Henry VIII, p. 373.

111 Erickson, Great Harry, p. 155.

112 Scarisbrick, Henry VIII, p. 383.

113 Ibid., p. 235.

114 Scarisbrick, Henry VIII, p. 380.

115 Ibid., p. 383.

116 Lindsey, Divorced, beheaded, survived, p. 156.

117 Scarisbrick, Henry VIII, p. 482.

118 Ibid., p. 434.

119 Scarisbrick, Henry VIII, pp. 78–9.

120 Ibid., pp. 55–9.

121 Smith, Henry VIII, p. 304.

122 Ibid., p. 30.

123 Ibid., p. 34.

124 Ibid., p. 456.

125 Scarisbrick, Henry VIII, p. 470.

126 Lindsey, Divorced, beheaded, survived, p. 152.

* 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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