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How Bizarre

Explaining Henry VIII’s erratic behavior

Too many hits to the head may explain English monarch’s violent personality

7:00am, February 26, 2016
Henry VIII

SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS  Scholars have debated for decades why Henry VIII acted the way he did. Head hits might be to blame.

Hard knocks from jousting, hawking and horseback riding may have left Henry VIII with traumatic brain injuries that muddled his thinking. That theory, described online February 5 in the Journal of Clinical Neuroscience, attempts to explain the British monarch’s puzzling personality shift from a young renaissance king to a petty, cruel and capricious tyrant, Muhammad Qaiser Ikram of Yale School of Medicine and colleagues propose.

Long before the head-cracking collisions that damage the brains of football players (SN: 6/14/14, p. 12), people were sustaining head hits in other ways, the researchers note. And Henry had some doozies, historical records show. Several hard jousting knocks and a fall into a soggy ditch (the unfortunate result of a vaulting pole malfunction) left Henry dazed and,

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