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The death of Henry II of France: A sporting death and post-mortem

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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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Keywords: Henry II King of France; Paré; Vesalius; athletic injuries; brain concussion; head injury; history of medicine; orbital injury; sixteenth century; tournaments

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 May 2001

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