THE BETTER NEWS
The Great Convergence in Quality of Life
Henry VIII, sexual carnivore and king of England for most of the first half of the sixteenth century, died at the age of fifty-five—possibly of syphilis, probably of an untreated case of type 2 diabetes. At about the same time in China, the Jiajing Emperor died of mercury poisoning at age fifty-nine, after a reign of forty-five years. Fast-forward to the start of the twentieth century. Queen Victoria died as the result of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1901 at age eighty-one—after the longest reign of any woman in history. Meanwhile, in China, the Tongzhi Emperor was born and died within Victoria’s reign—he passed away aged eighteen, of smallpox. Vaccination against the disease had ...