Friday, 1 March 2013

A lions heart in a box

In the news today, that Richard I had his heart preserved with creosote. Modern day forensic testing on the Lionheart Kings remains have shown that it was embalmed using a mixture of mercury tar – like Creosote. This after his remains, (well some of them), were removed from a church in France where part of him was laid to rest.

What with the recent excitement & public interest with Richard III being discovered, it looks as if his ancestor is getting in on the act too.  Richard I died in 1199 fighting the French after reportedly being shot in the shoulder with a crossbow fired by a boy.  As the now part of France was British owned at the time, his internal organs were buried there as was the custom & the rest of his body was buried in Fontevraud Abbey in the Loire Valley & his entrails in Chalus.    

Although his heart was discovered in a lead box at the Rouen Cathedral in 1838, the contents had reduced to dust, but modern day technology has allowed scientists to establish the contents & from that exactly how the King died.  Which was from septicaemia or gangrene caused from the infected crossbow wound which he reportedly died from 12 days after the injury.  This was discovered using a technique known as gas chromatography.

The 12th century embalmers were said to have usually been butchers & cooks, which is a little alarming, bit like letting a taxidermist cut your hair.  

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