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The physician’s report might have gone something like this: “The patient, H., was perhaps the most powerful man in the world and, as such, enjoyed the best medical care available. Despite this, in his late 30s he became irrational and insecure and developed tyrannical tendencies. H.’s illness may have been responsible for the miscarriages and stillbirths suffered by two of his wives, who were both executed on H.’s orders.”

King of England from the age of 17, Henry VIII died in 1547, after growing obese and ever more demented. He spent the last eight days of his life in bed, too weak even to lift a glass of water. According to a contemporary account, his deathbed stank of his bursting leg ulcers.

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