Fatal jousting tournament between King Henri II and Gabriel Montgomery, Lord of Lorges, artist unknown, 16th century, German print.
The death of Henri II in a jousting accident is one of the most famous instances of a prophecy fulfilled by Nostradamus. The quatrain was predicted as thus:
The young lion will overcome the older one,
On the field of combat in a single battle;
He will pierce his eyes through a golden cage,
Two wounds made one, then he dies a cruel death.
(Century 1, Quatrain 35)
In June 1559, King Henri II, unheeded by the dire warnings of Nostradamus, participated in a jousting tournament against the younger Comte de Montgomery, six years his junior and captain of the King’s Scottish Guard. Both men used shields embossed with lions. During the final bout, Montgomery failed to lower his lance in time and it shattered against the king’s helmet, impaling fragments into the king’s face and throat. One large fragment drove through the helmet’s visor destroying the king’s eye and piercing his brain. Another large fragment penetrated his temple lodging just behind the eye. Despite the efforts of royal surgeon Ambroise Paré, Henri lingered for ten agonizing days, ultimately succumbing to death from septicemia on July 10, 1559. The king was buried in a cadaver tomb in Saint Denis Basilica in Paris. Henri’s death was a factor in the end of jousting as a sport.