“Unhealthy Times of Kings and Queens” at the Bodleian

16 October 2018

It could be said that, over the centuries, England’s Kings and Queens were subjected to medical treatments that did more harm than good. Could today’s evidence based interventions have produced better outcomes?

Kellogg Fellow, Professor Carl Heneghan (Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, Nuffield Dept of Primary Care Health Sciences) and Bynum Tudor Fellow Dr Marcy McCall MacBain, along with Dr Jeffrey Aronson and Ms Lara Heneghan, have put together an exhibition “Unhealthy Times of Kings and Queens”, which explores this very question.

The exhibition focuses on various health related incidents involving England’s Monarchs. One such incident, the death of King Charles II following an apoplectic fit, has never been attributed to a specific cause, but could the excessive number of treatments he was subjected to, including bloodletting, purging and cupping, have contributed in some way?

Professor Heneghan notes, “we have put together an exhibition of the Kings and Queens, their illnesses, their deaths, and the public health messages their stories portray. The messages include preventable diseases such as obesity, smoking-related illnesses, and vaccination for smallpox, along with the problems of overtreatment, its consequences, and its effects on speeding up the deaths of some of the monarchs.”

Other incidents include the madness of King George III, Elizabeth I’s excessive use of Lead-based make up and its effect on her state of mind and the death of Mary II from smallpox.

The exhibition runs until the 11th November and admission is free.

Opening times are:

Monday to Friday 8.30am-5pm
Saturday 9am-5pm
Sunday 11am-5pm

You can find out more about the exhibition here or visit the Bodleian Library website