Blood group incompatibility between Henry VIII and his wives could have driven the Tudor king’s reproductive woes, and a genetic condition related to his suspected blood group could also explain Henry’s dramatic mid-life transformation into a physically and mentally-impaired tyrant who executed two of his wives.Share
Research conducted by bioarchaeologist Catrina Banks Whitley while she was a graduate student at SMU and anthropologist Kyra Kramer shows that the numerous miscarriages suffered by Henry’s wives could be explained if the king’s blood carried the Kell antigen. A Kell-negative woman who has multiple pregnancies with a Kell-positive man can produce a healthy, Kell-positive child in a first pregnancy; But the antibodies she produces during that first pregnancy will cross the placenta and attack a Kell-positive fetus in subsequent pregnancies.
As published in The Historical Journal (Cambridge University Press), the pattern of Kell blood group incompatibility is consistent with the pregnancies of Henry’s first two wives, Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. (Read more.)