Research “Forbidden Fish”: Did King Henry I Die of Lamprey Poisoning or Listeria monocytogenes?



For centuries, the sudden and mysterious death of King Henry I has been attributed to a large meal of lampreys that accidentally poisoned the unfortunate monarch. In this article, we conclude that lampreys were likely not the cause of the king’s illness, nor is it likely that he was deliberately poisoned. Although a wide variety of abdominal pathologies could have been responsible, we suggest that a sporadic central nervous system (CNS) infection of Listeria monocytogenes appears to be the most likely cause of Henry’s death, correlating with both his symptoms and rapid decline.

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