Pandemic Special: Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and the English sweating sickness

From 1485 – 1551, England experienced several epidemics of a mysterious illness known only as the sweating sickness. Unlike other diseases that affected the very young, very old, and the poor, this one seemed to target young, healthy, rich people. And two of the rich people affected were King Henry VIII and his mistress, Anne Boleyn.

EDIT: Two corrections were brought to my attention after this episode published. 1) Henry VII defeated Richard III in the Battle of Bosworth on August 22 1485; therefore, he and his troops did not arrive in England from France on August 28th, as I stated in the episode. What happened is that the first case of English sweating sickness was reported on August 28 1485, and 2) Henry VIII’s BFF/brother-in-law was *Charles* Brandon, not Henry Brandon, as I said in the episode. Charles Brandon’s son Henry died in the sweating sickness.


The ‘Sweating Disease’ That Swept Across England 500 Years Ago is Still a Medical Mystery (Discover Magazine)

The Sweating Sickness Returns (Discover Magazine)

Anne Boleyn and the Tudor sweating sickness (On the Tudor Trail)

The Mysterious Epidemic That Terrified Henry VIII (

Anne Boleyn: 11 Surprising Facts (History Extra)

How Did King Henry VIII ‘Self-Isolate’ From The Sweating Sickness? (History Extra)

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