Book Review: Pustules, Pestilence and Pain

PPPLet’s just go ahead and admit it – in general, the Tudor age has been done to death…Henry VIII, the second monarch of the period, even more so. It seems as if every nook and cranny of this man’s life has been poked and prodded from every angle. What more could there possibly be to discover? Quite a bit, it turns out, when it comes to his health.

In his exciting debut, Seamus O’Caellaigh probes the king’s health anew, shining a bright light on the treatments and tinctures popular in the Tudor court. Pustules, Pestilence and Pain is a work unlike anything I have seen before – in a most excellent way. O’Caellaigh not only draws on rarely referenced primary sources, he spotlights them in their original form and then translates the ancient prose into something more easily digested by modern audiences. From there, he expands on the information he imparts with his own analysis and experience as an apothecary in the reenactment world. As if that weren’t enough, the book is filled with full-color photos of the author and his tools, bringing it all to life. I never in my life thought I would find apothecary photos interesting, but these are simply amazing. I found myself utterly engrossed.

I highly recommend Pustules, Pestilence and Pain for all readers. It’s perfect for the casual historian, but provides fresh insight to those of us well-versed in the period. I found several bits to add to my notes for future novels!

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