About My Health Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us
Medindia LOGIN REGISTER
Advertisement

Study Reveals How Richard I's Heart was Preserved in the 12th Century

by Rukmani Krishna on March 2, 2013 at 9:54 PM
Font : A-A+

 Study Reveals How Richard I's Heart was Preserved in the 12th Century

A new study has revealed that the heart of Richard the Lionheart was preserved with mercury, mint and frankincense, among other sweet-smelling plants.

The study is the first biochemical look at the heart of Richard I, who died in 1199.

Advertisement

As it was common practice at the time, the king's heart was removed and mummified separately from the rest of his body. It rested in a reliquary at Notre Dame in Rouen for centuries before its rediscovery in 1838, Fox News reported.

Now, for the first time, the chemical composition of the substances used to preserve the heart has been revealed. These substances were directly inspired by Biblical texts, study leader Philippe Charlier of University Hospital R. Poincare said.
Advertisement

"The aim was to approach the odor of sanctity," Charlier told LiveScience.

Richard I of England began his rule in 1189. He spent two years in captivity in Europe, much of that time being held for ransom by the Holy Roman Emperor.

Later, the tale of Richard I's ransom would be folded into folk tales about Robin Hood, casting Richard I as a benevolent absent monarch and his brother John as a tax-happy usurper.

On March 25, 1199, years after the kidnapping, Richard sustained a crossbow wound in Chalus, France, and died 12 days later of gangrene.

His abdominal organs were removed and interred in Chalus, while his body went to rest at Fontevraud Abbey in France. His heart was embalmed and placed in its own casket and taken to Notre Dame in Rouen.

This division of the body was used to symbolize and mark Richard I's territory, Charlier said.

However, no ancient texts remain to record how the embalming process was done.

The heart rested in Rouen until July 1838, when a local historian discovered a lead box inscribed, "Here is the heart of Richard, King of England."

The heart itself had been reduced to dust in the preceding centuries; all that the box contained was a brownish-white powder.

It was this powder that Charlier and his colleagues tested. They found a variety of compounds, including traces of the proteins found in human heart muscle.

They also observed tiny fragments of linen, suggesting that the heart was wrapped before placement in the box.

Some metal compounds, including lead and tin, likely seeped into the powder from the lead box. Others were probably used in the embalming process.

In particular, the researchers detected mercury, which has been found in other medieval burials and was probably used as an embalming agent.

The analysis also turned up pollen from a variety of plants: myrtle, daisy, mint, pine, oak, poplar, plantain and bellflower.

Some of these, including poplar and bellflower, would have been blooming in April when Richard the Lionheart died; their pollen may have simply settled out of the air into the casket.

Source: ANI
Advertisement

Advertisement
News A-Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Advertisement
News Category
What's New on Medindia
Turmeric: Magic Ingredient to Keep you Healthy in Winter
Top 7 Benefits of Good Oral Hygiene
Healthy and Safer Thanksgiving 2021
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Heart Healthy Heart Statins Mitral Valve Prolapse Aortic Valve Stenosis Pericarditis 

Recommended Reading
Congenital Heart Disease
Heart diseases that are present at birth are called " Congenital heart diseases"....
Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a condition in which the heart fails to work adequately as a pump ...
Diet, Lifestyle and Heart Disease
The correlation between diet, lifestyle and heart disease. The importance of balanced diet life ......
Heart Attack
Heart attack is the death of the heart muscle due to loss of blood supply. Heart disease is the ......
Aortic Valve Stenosis
Aortic valve Stenosis is an abnormal narrowing of the c valve. Symptoms include angina, and that of ...
Mitral Valve Prolapse
Mitral Valve Prolapse is a relatively common condition and causes leakage of blood through the valve...
Pericarditis
Pericarditis occurs when the pericardium gets inflamed. Pericarditis is characterized by severe ches...
Statins
Statins are new wonder drugs that are proving to be efficacious, not merely in relieving symptoms bu...

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2021

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use