King’s Evil
For centuries, the kings of England and France were credited
with the ability to cure scrofula by touching the sufferer with
their fingers, a healing by touch ritual known as ‘‘touching for
the king’s evil.’’ Many thousands of subjects regularly assembled
for this royal touch, and some English kings were credited
with hundreds of cures. The custom seems to have arisen during
the reign of Edward the Confessor as a result of a young
woman’s dream. It was discontinued in England during the
Hanoverian period, when it was considered a papal gif

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