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HeroineAddict
HeroineAddict
What did Mary Tudor die from?
Jan 29 2010, 5:50 AM EST | Post edited: Jan 29 2010, 5:59 AM EST
I realise this is the sort of subject that's always inevitably going to be just conjecture, but I'm interested to get other people's thoughts on this.

I've not long since finished Linda Porter's biography on Mary I, and while she skims (I thought) surprisingly quickly over Mary's death and the events preceding it (presumably due to lack of evidence), she does imply that she believes Mary died from the influenza epidemic that was sweeping the country at the time. However, in David Starkey's book on Elizabeth Tudor's early life, he claims that while Mary succumbed to the illness, she actually rallied from it and the real cause of her death was the influenza having 'aggravated her underlying condition'. He doesn't elaborate on what he believes this 'underlying condition' was. I know Mary suffered bouts of ill health throughout her life, and Porter thinks that she may well have had problems associated with her menstrual cycle, but are there any other schools of thought out there about what actually killed Mary?
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Keyword tags: Mary I
Maggie-AnneB.
Maggie-AnneB.
1. RE: What did Mary Tudor die from?
Jan 29 2010, 6:22 AM EST | Post edited: Jan 29 2010, 6:22 AM EST
"I realise this is the sort of subject that's always inevitably going to be just conjecture, but I'm interested to get other people's thoughts on this.

I've not long since finished Linda Porter's biography on Mary I, and while she skims (I thought) surprisingly quickly over Mary's death and the events preceding it (presumably due to lack of evidence), she does imply that she believes Mary died from the influenza epidemic that was sweeping the country at the time. However, in David Starkey's book on Elizabeth Tudor's early life, he claims that while Mary succumbed to the illness, she actually rallied from it and the real cause of her death was the influenza having 'aggravated her underlying condition'. He doesn't elaborate on what he believes this 'underlying condition' was. I know Mary suffered bouts of ill health throughout her life, and Porter thinks that she may well have had problems associated with her menstrual cycle, but are there any other schools of thought out there about what actually killed Mary?"
I was always under the assumption that she died from cancer- ovarian cancer? Not sure where I read that, or where I heard it from, as the only book I read "about" Mary was, "The Children of Henry VIII" by Weir. I'll skim through the book to find something about Mary's death.
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juliana-angela
juliana-angela
2. RE: What did Mary Tudor die from?
Jan 29 2010, 6:32 AM EST | Post edited: Jan 29 2010, 6:32 AM EST
"I realise this is the sort of subject that's always inevitably going to be just conjecture, but I'm interested to get other people's thoughts on this.

I've not long since finished Linda Porter's biography on Mary I, and while she skims (I thought) surprisingly quickly over Mary's death and the events preceding it (presumably due to lack of evidence), she does imply that she believes Mary died from the influenza epidemic that was sweeping the country at the time. However, in David Starkey's book on Elizabeth Tudor's early life, he claims that while Mary succumbed to the illness, she actually rallied from it and the real cause of her death was the influenza having 'aggravated her underlying condition'. He doesn't elaborate on what he believes this 'underlying condition' was. I know Mary suffered bouts of ill health throughout her life, and Porter thinks that she may well have had problems associated with her menstrual cycle, but are there any other schools of thought out there about what actually killed Mary?"
I saw a documentary series called 'Royal Deaths and Diseases' a while ago, in which historians and doctors looked at various monarchs and their illnesses,

In one of the programmes, it was suggested that Mary may have suffered from a pituitary tumour. This would have caused menstrual problems, severe headaches, sort-sightedness and even the symptoms of pregnancy, all of which affected Mary. The consultant physician who described the disease (which can now been treated with hormones) was very convincing. If that was the cause of Mary's medical problems, it would have ultimately proved fatal.
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HeroineAddict
HeroineAddict
3. RE: What did Mary Tudor die from?
Jan 29 2010, 6:42 AM EST | Post edited: Jan 29 2010, 6:42 AM EST
"I saw a documentary series called 'Royal Deaths and Diseases' a while ago, in which historians and doctors looked at various monarchs and their illnesses,

In one of the programmes, it was suggested that Mary may have suffered from a pituitary tumour. This would have caused menstrual problems, severe headaches, sort-sightedness and even the symptoms of pregnancy, all of which affected Mary. The consultant physician who described the disease (which can now been treated with hormones) was very convincing. If that was the cause of Mary's medical problems, it would have ultimately proved fatal."
This definitely sounds right for the symptoms that Porter describes Mary suffering from throughout her life. I'll have to refer back to the book, because I'm pretty sure she actually mentioned a pituitary tumour, though strangely not as the cause of her death.

Maggie, I'm sure I read it was ovarian cancer as well (somewhere, anyway!). It's strange how there seem to be so many theories around about the cause of her death, and it was really only until I read Porter's book that I've come across someone attributing it to the influenza epidemic!
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Maggie-AnneB.
Maggie-AnneB.
4. RE: What did Mary Tudor die from?
Jan 29 2010, 6:52 AM EST | Post edited: Jan 29 2010, 6:52 AM EST
"Maggie, I'm sure I read it was ovarian cancer as well (somewhere, anyway!). It's strange how there seem to be so many theories around about the cause of her death, and it was really only until I read Porter's book that I've come across someone attributing it to the influenza epidemic!"
I find it rather bizarre to say it was the influenza that did her in. Especially with the many reports of her being sick, practically, her whole life. And also the pregnancies that resulted in no babies, that has to be counted as a possible factor in her death.
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Brooke9/7
Brooke9/7
5. RE: What did Mary Tudor die from?
Jan 29 2010, 6:59 AM EST | Post edited: Jan 29 2010, 6:59 AM EST
Hey Ladies, I found the following article: It also describes the pituitary problems and symptoms plus the possiblity of other stress-triggers, infections, and depression.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1291141/pdf/jrsocmed00168-0052.pdf

and here's the wiki discussion from awhile ago: http://tudorswiki.sho.com/thread/2060177/The+Illness+and+Death+of+Mary+Tudor
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HeroineAddict
HeroineAddict
6. RE: What did Mary Tudor die from?
Jan 29 2010, 7:04 AM EST | Post edited: Jan 29 2010, 7:04 AM EST
"I find it rather bizarre to say it was the influenza that did her in. Especially with the many reports of her being sick, practically, her whole life. And also the pregnancies that resulted in no babies, that has to be counted as a possible factor in her death."
I know. It was a part of the book I thought was kind of disappointing; it's like she ran out of material and suddenly decided to wrap it up as quickly as possible, and thus she goes into surprisingly little detail about Mary's death. She mentions Mary falling ill shortly after she and her household moved to the palace of St James, and that she was 'stricken by fevers', but doesn't really elaborate more. I guess I'm more likely to agree with Starkey's theory that it worsened her 'underlying condition' and sent her on a downward spiral.
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HeroineAddict
HeroineAddict
7. RE: What did Mary Tudor die from?
Jan 29 2010, 7:06 AM EST | Post edited: Jan 29 2010, 7:06 AM EST
"Hey Ladies, I found the following article: It also describes the pituitary problems and symptoms plus the possiblity of other stress-triggers, infections, and depression.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1291141/pdf/jrsocmed00168-0052.pdf

and here's the wiki discussion from awhile ago: http://tudorswiki.sho.com/thread/2060177/The+Illness+and+Death+of+Mary+Tudor"
Thanks, Brooke! I'll definitely have a read of that article.
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Anne'sCurls
Anne'sCurls
8. RE: What did Mary Tudor die from?
Jan 29 2010, 7:53 AM EST | Post edited: Jan 29 2010, 7:53 AM EST
I also was under the impression that Mary died of ovarian cancer which explains why she thought she was pregnant. 2  out of 3 found this valuable. Do you?    
royalfalcon
royalfalcon
9. RE: What did Mary Tudor die from?
Jan 29 2010, 8:10 AM EST | Post edited: Jan 29 2010, 8:10 AM EST
"I also was under the impression that Mary died of ovarian cancer which explains why she thought she was pregnant."
Yes, I was also of the opinion that Mary died of ovarian cancer.

Clifford Brewer who wrote a book titled The Death of Kings also puts the reason of death down as an ovarian tumour. Mr Clifford is a retired surgeon.
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MsSquirrly
MsSquirrly
10. RE: What did Mary Tudor die from?
Jan 29 2010, 8:16 AM EST | Post edited: Jan 29 2010, 8:17 AM EST
Victor Medvei who wrote what is called the definitive reference book on "the History of Endocrinology" says that after studying the available evidence on the illness and death of Mary Tudor , that he has come to the conclusion that she suffered from Prolactinoma with signs of Hyperthyroidism which is not uncommon if pituitary tumors become large.

Symptoms of Prolactinoma : headaches , loss of vision, disruption of menstruation, unexplained milk secretion from the breasts or infertility, All of which, Mary had.

That being said,,,, could she have had ovarian cancer too? Possibly.
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Conyle
Conyle
11. RE: What did Mary Tudor die from?
Jan 29 2010, 8:42 AM EST | Post edited: Jan 29 2010, 8:42 AM EST
The symptoms of Prolactinoma that MsS posted sound right. But I am convinced that what finally killed her was ovarian cancer. My mother died of ovarian cancer in 2002, and I can see the similarities. Ovarian cancer causes a lot of fluid to build up in the abdomen - in fact that is how my mom was finally diagnosed, fluid built up and it was pressing on her lungs and she went to the doctor because it was getting difficult for her to breath. She also experienced a lot of cramping and bloating, I could see how Mary could think that was related to pregnancy. It's also a painful disease to die from even with pain killers, and accounts have said that Mary was in a lot of pain at the end. 2  out of 3 found this valuable. Do you?    
juliana-angela
juliana-angela
12. RE: What did Mary Tudor die from?
Jan 29 2010, 2:25 PM EST | Post edited: Jan 29 2010, 2:25 PM EST
She may well have suffered from both a pituitary tumour and ovarian cancer. The 'false pregnancy' symptoms are, I gather, a feature of the former as welkl as the latter. From what I remember of the programme I mentioned earlier, it was said that pituitary tumours grow very slowly. If there is an hereditary element in cancer, as research suggests, then it may be significant that both Mary''s mother and her maternal grandmother apparently died of different forms of the disease.

The symptom of lactation was certainly mentioned ny the consultant as being recorded by Mary's ladies in waiting - in view of this, it was no wonder that Mary thought she was pregnant and rather unfair for later writers to put it all down to a 'hysterical false pregnancy'.
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