Send to

Choose Destination
Surv Ophthalmol. 2015 May-Jun;60(3):274-8. doi: 10.1016/j.survophthal.2014.09.001.

The last ride of Henry II of France: orbital injury and a king's demise.

Author information

Oculoplastic Surgery, Inc., Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. Electronic address:
Carolina Skin and Laser, Hendersonville, North Carolina, USA.
Division of Oculoplastic, Orbital and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Ophthalmology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.
Department of Ophthalmology, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, San Diego, California, USA.


Jousting was a popular pastime for royalty in the Renaissance era. Injuries were common, and the eye was particularly at risk from the splinters of the wooden lance. On June 30, 1559, Henry II of France participated in a jousting tournament to celebrate two royal weddings. In the third match, Gabriel de Montgomery struck Henry on the right shoulder and the lance splintered, sending wooden shards into his face and right orbit. Despite being cared for by the prominent physicians Ambroise Paré and Andreas Vesalius, the king died 10 days later and was found to have a cerebral abscess. The wound was not explored immediately after the injury; nevertheless, wooden foreign bodies were discovered in the orbit at the time of autopsy. The dura had not been violated, suggesting that an infection may have traveled from the orbit into the brain. Nostradamus and Luca Guarico, the astrologer to the Medici family, had prophesied the death of Henry II of France, but he ignored their warnings and thus changed the course of history in Renaissance Europe.


Ambroise Paré; Andreas Vesalius; Catherine de Medici; Henry II of France; jousting; orbital foreign body; organic foreign body

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center