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king's evil

noun
1.
scrofula: so called because it was supposed to be curable by the touch of the reigning sovereign.
Origin
1350-1400
1350-1400; Middle English kynges evel
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for king's evil

king's evil

noun
1.
(pathol) the king's evil, a former name for scrofula
Word Origin
C14: from the belief that the king's touch would heal scrofula
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for king's evil
n.

"scrofula," late 14c., translates Medieval Latin regius morbus; so called because the kings of England and France claimed to heal it by their touch. In England, the custom dates from Edward the Confessor and was continued through the Stuarts (Charles II touched 90,798 sufferers) but was ended by the Hanoverians (1714).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for king's evil

scrofula (q.v.), or struma, a tuberculous swelling of the lymph glands, once popularly supposed to be curable by the touch of royalty. The custom of touching was first adopted in England by Edward the Confessor and in France by Philip I. In England the practice was attended with great ceremony; and from the time of Henry VII sufferers were presented with especially touched coins to be worn as amulets or charms. The custom reached its zenith during the Restoration: Charles II is said to have touched more than 90,000 victims between 1660 and 1682. The last royal healer in England was Queen Anne, who touched 200 victims in 1712. In France the ceremony persisted for another century and was even briefly revived by Charles X between 1824 and 1830

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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