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Uncovering the Truth Behind Thomas Aquinas' Death

Core Concepts
Chronic subdural hematoma identified as Thomas Aquinas' cause of death.
The article delves into the investigation conducted by a team of medical students and a neurosurgeon to determine the cause of death of Italian theologian Thomas Aquinas nearly 750 years ago. By analyzing historical accounts and examining a skull believed to be his, they concluded that chronic subdural hematoma was the likely culprit. Aquinas, known for his influential writings and efforts to reconcile science and religion, died at the age of about 48 after hitting his head on a tree branch. Various theories about his death, including poisoning and strokes, have been debunked, with the evidence pointing towards a chronic subdural hematoma as the cause.
Aquinas died on March 7, 1274, at the age of about 48. Aquinas hit his head on a tree branch while traveling from Naples to the Second Council of Lyon. Aquinas experienced symptoms such as weakness, lack of appetite, and somnolence before his death.
"Ultimately, this is a classic chronic subdural hematoma story." - Gabriel J. LeBeau "There was a minor trauma followed by a period of lucidity and relative normalcy, then gradual decline." - Gabriel J. LeBeau "If Aquinas lived in modern times and suffered from chronic subdural hematoma now, he would have survived." - Teodoro Forcht Dagi, MD, MPH

Key Insights Distilled From

by Randy Doting... at 04-28-2023
History Mystery: Did Subdural Hematoma Kill Thomas Aquinas?

Deeper Inquiries

What impact did Aquinas' writings have on the reconciliation of science and religion?

Aquinas played a significant role in bridging the gap between science and religion through his belief that reason and faith are compatible. His writings emphasized that God cannot be the source of contradiction or error, advocating for the harmony between scientific inquiry and religious beliefs. This perspective laid the foundation for future discussions on the relationship between science and religion, influencing thinkers for centuries to come.

Is there any validity to the theory of Aquinas being poisoned to prevent his rise to cardinal or pope?

There is no concrete evidence to support the theory that Aquinas was poisoned to hinder his ascent to cardinal or pope. While the Italian poet Dante accused a monarch named Charles of Anjou of poisoning Aquinas, this claim lacks substantiation. The lack of historical evidence and the presence of a more plausible medical explanation, such as chronic subdural hematoma, diminish the credibility of the poisoning theory in Aquinas' death.

How does the diagnosis of chronic subdural hematoma in Aquinas shed light on historical medical practices and understanding?

The diagnosis of chronic subdural hematoma in Aquinas provides insights into historical medical practices and understanding of neurological conditions in the 13th century. By analyzing historical accounts and examining the partial skull believed to be Aquinas', researchers were able to identify a plausible cause of his death. This diagnosis highlights the challenges of diagnosing and treating neurological conditions in the past, showcasing the advancements in medical knowledge and technology that have improved our understanding and management of such conditions today.