1. Jan Swanton

    This article is very muddled. First of all, it isn’t possible to know what was wrong with ‘Charles the Mad’ or Henry VI, whether it was mental or physical, whether their conditions were identical, let alone if they were hereditry. I agree, traditionally, it is asserted Henry VI inherited his condition from his Grandfather, but the symptoms were quite dissimilar, in fact. I don’t say there is no connection, only that we can’t draw reliable conclusions.
    Other than the fact he recovered, Henry VI’s symptoms resemble a stroke. In oldcmedicsl books there is a condition called ‘General paralysis of the insane’, which also describes Henry’s symptoms, which could just have been severe depression. Specilation is interesting but fruitless.
    As for Henry IV, his final illness seems to have been entirely physical and although it is romantic to see him as Shakespeare’s tortured king, it’s not a safe assumption.

    As for what awareness there was of hereditry illnesses, without any knowledge of genetics and the widespread belief that their god was repsonsible for everything that happened and that French kings were kings by divine right, it seems unlikely they were aware, although they will have noticed that children looked like their parents and believed that royalty transferred their inate royalness to their offspring.

    • Robert Kapanjie

      General paralysis ( or more commonly paresis) of the insane refers to brain or spinal cord involvement with tertiary syphilis . It is syphilis that occurs 5 to 15 years after initial infection . The fact that Charles recovered makes this most unlikely . Penicillin is still a good treatment but unfortunately not known in Charles’ era.

  2. Carol

    Was Isabella of Spain related to the French royals? Both her mother and her daughter Queen Juana were in forced seclusion for many years before their deaths due to their being mad, as it was described in those days.

  3. Robert Kapanjie

    Was Edmund Tudor or one of his three sons a progenitor of the house of Tudor , the first royal being Henry Vll ?

  4. Jonathan

    The question of mental illness is an absolutely enormous topic.

    This subject was little understood at the time as you correctly point out. Perhaps it is a topic to be covered in greater depth than the scope of a blog article may reasonably expected to address?

    You have also correctly highlighted the relevance of Charles VI’s mental illness and the impact that had on his ability to make any decisions, in the run up, as well as to lead an army at all; let alone effectively against Henry V at Agincourt. A fact which takes a little of the lustre from the heroic if not to say slightly exaggerated story of the nature and alleged scale of Henry’s victory.

    However, more recent history has shown that suffering from depression need not always be an impediment to great leadership in war. This though was at a time with the condition being slightly better understood.

    On a point of fact.

    You mention that Catherine de Valois’ relationship with Owain Tudor began at Leeds Castle.

    Are you able to confirm from which reference,or references; presumably a contemporary chronicler and more recent historian from whom this statement has been derived, please?

    Thank you.

  5. Amy

    Your quote references Catherine both giving birth to her daughter Elizabeth and dying on January 3rd 1437, and then goes on to reference events that happened in between the birth of her daughter and her death, can you expand on this, it doesn’t seem that she can have given birth, suffered the consequences of marrying without permission and died all on the same day in different locations.

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