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King Charles VIII of France’s Death: From an Unsubstantiated Traumatic Brain Injury to More Realistic Hypotheses

Abstract : On April 7, 1498, Charles VIII, King of France, attended a game of palm in the ditches of the Château d'Amboise. The 27-year-old King suddenly collapsed and became comatose. He laid down, almost on his own, on a straw mat that was hastily arranged, and he died 9 hours later. His contemporaries perceived his death as a perfect reminder of fatality: a king could die alone in a miserable gallery. All who looked into this curious death had dwelled on the frontal blow to head that the king had sustained right before his demise and had not considered alternative scenarios. The present study, still with limited available evidence, aimed to reexamine the historical account of his death in light of modern medical knowledge. It is virtually impossible that a minor bump with low kinetic energy could kill a 27-year-old man. Many historical accounts of Charles VIII’s life and death, including Italian ambassadors' letters, led us to reconsider the commonly held version and to propose an alternative hypothesis. We have concluded that Charles VIII had experienced an acute consciousness disorder with language impairment that could have been related to an epileptic condition secondary to neurosyphilis. We have discussed whether a more accurate diagnosis for the cause of death could be obtained by a pathological analysis of the King’s remains.
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https://hal-inrap.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03675729
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Submitted on : Monday, May 23, 2022 - 12:48:49 PM
Last modification on : Friday, May 27, 2022 - 6:10:02 PM

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Marc Zanello, Alexandre Roux, Martine Gavaret, Fabrice Bartolomei, Gilles Huberfeld, et al.. King Charles VIII of France’s Death: From an Unsubstantiated Traumatic Brain Injury to More Realistic Hypotheses. World Neurosurgery, Elsevier, 2021, 156, pp.60-67. ⟨10.1016/j.wneu.2021.09.056⟩. ⟨hal-03675729⟩

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