Vesalius, Paré and the Death of Henri II

Ynez Violé O'NEILL
Medical History Division, Department of Neurobiology, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA

In 1559, the king of France sustained several cerebral trauma while participating in a jousting tournament. Despite expert care by the most skilled practitioners of the time, the king died twelve days later. Less than a decade ago, neurosurgeons at UCLA were confronted with a comparable case.

Vesalius, Paré and the Death of Henri II will analyze and contrast the diagnoses and treatment of head trauma in two cases, four centuries apart. The objective of our study is to acquaint medical practitioners as well as medical historians with one of the most complete accounts of the diagnosis and treatment of brain trauma surviving from the pre0modern era. Our purpose is to demonstrate how prior conceptions about neurophysiology, though clinically derived, misled some of the greatest minds of the time. We shall compare and analyze the thinking and therapeutic management of the king's case with that initiated by a team of modern neurosurgeons who treated the modern patient successfully. The richness of the contemporary graphic sources and depictions will contribute to the understanding of both cases and therefore our findings will be presented in a visual format on videotape. We expect that this format will stimulate discussions among medical professionals and historians.

Video Presentation
Saturday, 16 June 2001, 12:00 - 1:00 pm

Sixth Annual Meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN) and
Eighth Meeting of the European Club for the History of Neurology (ECHN)

Cologne, Germany