Gout, a form of arthritis caused by too much uric acid in the bloodstream, has been known throughout history as the "disease of kings." A number of affluent and powerful men and women have suffered from gout, leading many to label it an affliction of the wealthy. Associated with overeating, excessive drinking, and a life of indulgence far outside the reaches of the lower and middle classes, this common disease causes pain, swelling, and redness in the joints, especially in the big toe.
Kings and queens with gout experienced both acute and chronic bouts of the disease, and their notoriety and influence only perpetuated associations between gout and excess. Several European royals suffered from gout, as did a number of noteworthy American leaders. Whether or not gout had any impact upon the political and historical significance of those afflicted remains open to interpretation, but some pretty well-known figures had lives filled with gout-induced misery.