List of syphilis cases

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Portrait of Gerard de Lairesse by Rembrandt van Rijn, ca. 1665–67, oil on canvas. De Lairesse, himself a painter and art theorist, suffered from congenital syphilis that severely deformed his face and eventually blinded him.[1]

Mental illness caused by late-stage syphilis was once a common form of dementia. This was known as the general paresis of the insane. The list below contains a representative listing of famous historical figures diagnosed with or strongly suspected (marked "S") as having had syphilis at some time. Many people who acquired syphilis were treated and recovered; died from it (marked "†").

Many famous historical figures, including Charles VIII of France, Hernán Cortés of Spain, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Ivan the Terrible, were often alleged to have had syphilis or other sexually transmitted infections. Sometimes these allegations were false and formed part of a political whispering campaign. In other instances, retrospective diagnoses of suspected cases have been made in modern times.

Keys: S—suspected case; —died of syphilis


  1. ^ The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Summer 2007, pp. 55–56.
  2. ^ Donelson, Linda (1998). Out of Isak Dinesen in Africa. Coulsong. ISBN 0-9643893-9-8.
  3. ^ "Frederick Delius Biography Sublime Music, Tragic Life". Favorite Classical Composers. Retrieved 2011-05-30. 
  4. ^ "Did Hitler Have Syphilis?". Medical News Today. Retrieved 2010-10-02. "An encounter with a Jewish prostitute in Vienna in 1908 may have given Hitler neuro-syphilis and provided the 'deadly logic and blueprint for the Holocaust' as well as giving him a reason to attempt to eliminate the mentally retarded, according to evidence presented at the Royal College of Psychiatrists." 
  5. ^ Tithonus, Pednuad, J. "Eugen Sandow - Father of Bodybuilding". The Human Marvels. Retrieved 2008-09-17. "At the time of his death in 1925, a cover story was released stating Sandow died prematurely at age 58 of a stroke shortly after pushing his car out of the mud. The actual cause of death was more likely due to complications from syphilis." 
  6. ^ Tom Pendergast and Sara Pendergast (2000). St. James encyclopedia of popular culture. St. James Press. ISBN 978-1-55862-404-7. "... speculates that the strongman's death may have been the result of an aortic aneurysm brought about by syphilis. ..." 
  7. ^ Wilson, A. G. (2001). Tolstoy: A Biography. New York: Norton. ISBN 0-393-32122-3.