The death of Henry II of France: A sporting death and post-mortem
In 1559 Henry II King of France was wounded in a tournament and died. A broken lance entered his right orbit, destroying his eye and leaving behind many splinters. The skull was not penetrated but infection spread intracranially. Both Ambroise Paré and Vesalius saw him and predicted death. Nine days after wounding, both attended the King’s post-mortem. The story shows how difficult life was without antisepsis, anaesthesia, antibiotics or investigations. The King’s stubbornness highlights the dangers of continuing to play after concussion.
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