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Blood Will Tell: A Medical Explanation of the Tyranny of Henry VIII

Posted By Claire on October 19, 2012

I have been corresponding with Kyra Kramer for a while now and so was delighted when she asked me to read and review her book “Blood Will Tell”. In the book, Kyra puts forward the theory that Henry VIII had Kell positive blood and that it was a syndrome related to this blood type, McLeod Syndrome, which can explain Henry’s increasing tyranny and irrational behaviour after his fortieth birthday. In a recent article on The Anne Boleyn Files website, Kyra wrote:

“I really hope that the theory and the evidence I present will at least encourage people to see Henry VIII as the complex monarch he was, and perhaps even forgive him for the crimes he committed as a result of an uncontrollable disease that caused mental illness.”

Any theory which can explain Henry VIII’s behaviour, and possibly redeem him, has to be taken seriously. Although I was familiar with Kyra’s theory from a medical journal article she wrote with Dr. Catrina Banks Whitley, I read this book with an open mind and enjoyed a fuller explanation of Kell Blood type and McLeod syndrome, and Kyra’s reasoning for why she believes that Henry had them. I’m still not convinced, but that’s just my opinion and that should in no way detract from the book, which is an excellent read. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in what made Henry tick.

“Blood Will Tell” covers far more than the medical topics and here is the list of chapters so that you can get an idea of the scope of the book:

  1. King Henry VIII
  2. Katherine of Aragon
  3. Anne Boleyn
  4. The Bloodbath Begins
  5. Tudor Medicine
  6. Tyranny Unchecked
  7. The Great Flanders Mare
  8. Katheryn Howard
  9. Kateryn Parr
  10. The Blood Burns

In addition, it has a full bibliography.

It is a readable examination of the “reproductive woes” experienced by Henry’s first two wives and Henry’s health and behaviour. Things which could usually go right over the head of those of us who aren’t at all scientific are explained in just the right kind of language and without boring the reader. It is entertaining and engaging. A great addition to the Tudor history lover’s bookcase.

Book Details

Paperback: 338 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (August 20, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1478183438
ISBN-13: 978-1478183433
Available at and Amazon UK.


One Response to “Blood Will Tell: A Medical Explanation of the Tyranny of Henry VIII”

  1. Kyra Kramer says:

    Thank you for the review and I am glad you liked the book! I’m sad I was unable to win you over to Team Kell/McLeod, but the praise of the book in general makes me very happy. Considering the odds of exhuming Henry VIII and getting DNA are scant, there is little chance the theory will ever be concretely proven or disproved, so we’ll never know for sure which one of us is correct :0)

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