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Revista chilena de infectología

Print version ISSN 0716-1018


DUARTE, Ignacio. The pretended healing of scrofula by the king's touch. Rev. chil. infectol. [online]. 2014, vol.31, n.4, pp.459-467. ISSN 0716-1018.

From the 11th century up to the beginning of the 19th century a healing rite was performed by the kings of France and England. They were considered to have a hereditary divine power to cure with their hand the scrofula, a tuberculous lymphadenitis that affects mainly cervical lymph nodes. The rite took place regularly over groups of scrofulous patients and a wide audience. The belief in that miraculous power was based on the fact that kings had been anointed and crowned in a religious ceremony, thus acquiring a priestly nature together with their temporal power. The monarchs of France and England would have stimulated their subjects' credulity to strengthen their power over the feudal lords, specially when a change of dynasty took place. Scrofula may have been chosen due to a high incidence, with an evolution that may mimick healing, and also because the concept of scrofula may have included other lesions with episodes of spontaneous remission. The available historical data and the current knowledge of tuberculous lymphadenitis do not support the belief of massive miraculous healings by the king's touch.

Keywords : Scrofula; lymphadenitis; tuberculosis; king's evil.

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