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Sovereign's head identified after more than four centuries

Date:
December 26, 2010
Source:
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Summary:
The skeletons of kings and queens lying in mass graves in the Royal Basilica of Saint-Denis in Paris could finally have the solemn funeral ceremonies they deserve, say experts.

The skeletons of kings and queens lying in mass graves in the Royal Basilica of Saint-Denis in Paris could finally have the solemn funeral ceremonies they deserve, say experts in the Christmas issue published in the British Medical Journal.

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Many of the graves in the Royal Basilica were destroyed by revolutionaries in 1793 and very few remains of the mummified bodies have been preserved and identified.

Dr Philippe Charlier led the scientific breakthrough that has identified the head of the French King, Henri IV.

A team of scientists from different fields of expertise including anthropology, pathology, forensic medicine and genetic studies worked together to make the identification.

Henri IV was known as the "green gallant" because of his attractiveness to women or "good King Henry" because of his popularity amongst his people.

Despite his popularity, Henri IV was assassinated in Paris at the age of 57 on 14 May 1610 by Francois Ravaillac, a fanatical Catholic. Along with the bodies of other French kings and queens, his remains lay in the graves of the Basilica of Saint-Denis, before the graves were desecrated and the corpses mutilated in the wake of the French Revolution.

The authors conclude that "similar methods could be used to identify all the other kings' and queens' skeletons lying in the mass grave of the basilica, so that they can be returned to their original tombs."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Philippe Charlier et al. Multidisciplinary medical identification of a French king’s head (Henri IV). BMJ, 2010; 341:c6805 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.c6805

Cite This Page:

BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Sovereign's head identified after more than four centuries." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 December 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101214201532.htm>.
BMJ-British Medical Journal. (2010, December 26). Sovereign's head identified after more than four centuries. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101214201532.htm
BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Sovereign's head identified after more than four centuries." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101214201532.htm (accessed November 22, 2014).

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