Yvonne Carts-Powell

Strange Tale of a Severed Head

In hilarious, Science on October 26, 2011 at 5:29 pm

You can’t make up this sort of news.

When King Henry IV of France was assassinated in 1610, his head was still firmly attached to his body. Since then, it has wandered a bit, but we still don’t know where.

During the French Revolution, the tombs of the kings at Basilica of Saint Denis were dug up and destroyed. Except someone, a sort of Scarlet Pimpernel of the dead, removed Henry IV’s head and kept it. And passed it on.

Last December, the head resurfaced, and made the news (see Mummified head is skull of Henri IV, say historians).

And recently, it made news again, after a variety of analytical tests confirm (or at least, fail to disprove) that the head was indeed Henry IV’s. Among other techniques, they applied micro X-ray fluorescence analysis, Raman microscopy, and radiocarbon testing.

And now, having given to science and provided a wonderful story, it is being called home by a relative:
King Henri IV of France’s severed head ‘should be reunited with body’ – Telegraph. One wonders whether the feet are jealous? (Also, wasn’t the rest of the body destroyed? So what would the head be reunited with?)

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