December 16, 2010

Embalmed head of Henry IV found

BMJ 2010; 341:c6805 doi: 10.1136/bmj.c6805

Multidisciplinary medical identification of a French king’s head (Henri IV)

Philippe Charlier et al.

From the paper:
Since the desecration of the French kings’ graves in the basilica of Saint-Denis by the revolutionaries in 1793, few remains of these mummified bodies have been preserved and identified. After a multidisciplinary analysis, we confirmed that an embalmed head reputed to be that of the French king Henri IV and conserved in successive private collections did indeed belong to that monarch.
Now positively identified according to the most rigorous arguments of any forensic anthropology examination, the French king’s head will be reinterred in the royal basilica of Saint-Denis after a solemn funeral ceremony. 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.
Unfortunately, no "uncontaminated" mtDNA could be extracted. It would be interesting to compare his Y-chromosome to that of his descendant Louis XVI, but that doesn't seem to be possible.

Wikipedia article on Henry IV

(no abstract)


Jack said...

Can't sat they tried to make him look intelligent.

dave in boca said...

I lived in France and became an amateur student of French history. Henry IV was a notorious lady-killer and bon-vivant and would have fit in with the Three Musketeers, his presence and charisma were so fabled to be overpowering in their charm and elegance.

Henry IV might have been the single most popular king in the history of France, sort of like Richard the Lion-Hearted was in England. He sort of looks like the many pictures I've seen of him, a sort of Gascon like Cyrano de Bergerac, a lovable dude.

The French Revolution was revolting in every sense of that term...!