- Taschenbuch: 264 Seiten
- Verlag: Abson Books London (30. Januar 2000)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0902920995
- ISBN-13: 978-0902920996
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 13,3 x 1,9 x 20 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: Schreiben Sie die erste Bewertung
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 375.275 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
The Death of Kings: A Medical History of the Kings and Queens of England (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 30. Januar 2000
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As an example, the image of Henry VIII conjures up a bully-a domineering and heartless ruler. But considering that Henry was probably dealing with some very serious health issues that affected him not only physically but also psychologically, one begins to understand the relatively swift descent of this monarch from a budding Renaissance prince to a feared sovereign.
The author also presents a more sympathetic view of medical men of ages past, before the benefit of modern scientific discoveries and identification of many illnesses. Though he admits there were many "quacks", Dr. Brewer also educates the reader regarding some astute individuals who were very sincere in their attempts to understand and help their patients. We would not have the medical knowledge of today if it hadn't been for the efforts of these pioneering medical men, who are all too often ridiculed for holding the often very erroneous views of illnesses so prevalent at the time that they lived.
Anyone interested in British history and/or the history of medicine will enjoy this book. The author has reached out across the centuries and provided an honest and interesting look at not only the monarchs and their maladies, but the medical response to their often puzzling and deadly ailments, both physical and mental. Very highly recommended.
Queen Anne, for instance, likely suffered from lupus, her obesity and her failure to produce a live child or one that lived longer than a few days, are the reason for that diagnosis. 17 of her dead babies were found in the tomb of Mary Queen of Scots for reasons unknown. Syphilis was rampant among kings, Charles II being perhaps the most notorious lecher. Henry VIII has often been suspected of having syphilis, but the author says unlikely. The ulcer in his leg was not a syphilitic gumma but a wound he had sustained in the jousts and which infected the bone underneath. And poor young Edward VI died horribly of tuberculosis, his hair fallen out, his fingernail gangrenous.
Then there is Queen Victoria whose waist measured 46 inches- she was truly five by five. She succumbed to heart disease and the complications of obesity and is the last monarch discussed in the book.
This history of British royals and how death claimed them is a fine read, not really depressing and certainly not voyeuristic, just interesting. Want to know what happened to Oliver Cromwell's head? Read the book!
The author, Clifford Brewer, also writes a brief history of the reign for each King and Queen, beginning with Edward the Confessor and ending with Queen Victoria.
Although it does have its flaws (hence the four stars and not five), The Death of Kings is still an interesting read. A lot of reviewers may criticize Brewer's diagnoses, but one must remember that Brewer is of course not able to perform an actual autopsy; he must rely on accounts written at the timeperiod and delve through the superstitions and the malpractices of medieval "doctors". That said, I think this book is really interesting.
If you want a fascinating read, and are not a stickler about perfection, this is a good book. I wish it were longer, though; it is a short book that most readers can blow through in about two days. All in all, I really like this book.
When reading this book, you have to take into consideration:
1. accurate diagnosis of most medical conditions was almost impossible until about 75-100 years ago
2. the precise cause of death may be impossible to obtain without a detailed necropsy, and right now, there's really nothing left of these people to examine
Appendix 1 of the book contains the probable causes of death of England's kings and queens in a very abbreviated fashion. If you're not a doctor or a medical student, chances are that this won't be very informative because it's written in medical terms. Appendix 2 contains descriptions and locations of the royal tombs.
Historically, there are different diseases than we have now - childbirth fever, smallpox, measles, diptheria, tuberculosis, black plague, and typhoid all ran rampant, as did syphilis. This needs to be taken into consideration as well when reading through the book, understanding that back in the day, they didn't have emergency rooms and antibiotics. I also think it's necessary to read this book in small doses. It's more enjoyable and much less intense if you read it that way. Trying to read it in large chunks can be very overwhelming.
Some noted histories:
- William I, who ruptured his bowels or bladder on his saddle horn.
- Henry I, who ate himself to death.
- Edward II was murdered by having a red hot poker shoved in his rectum.
- Henry IV, who died from an overwhelming infection from a severe skin condition.
- Richard III was the only English king to die in battle.
- Henry VIII likely had Cushing's Disease.
- Oliver Cromwell, who died from an infection following a kidney stone.
- James I and II both died from complications of syphilis.
- Anne, one of the few female monarchs, had lupus.