Black, painless masses of the king’s evil covered the necks of suffers. The masses multiplied over time and often ruptured resulting in large open sores. Even stranger than the disease was the proposed cure. People believed the royal touch of the king cured sufferers of their symptoms. The Book of Common, an Anglican prayer book, included a ceremony in which the king or queen would hand a person afflicted with the king’s evil a coin with an angel on it in order to cure the disease. It is also documented that King Henry the IV of France touched and cured 1,500 sufferers of the ailment.
The Cause: Tuberculosis. This type of tuberculosis is called scrofula and is not the kind of tuberculosis known to most because it infects the lymph nodes.