Friday, December 17, 2010

The head of Henri IV and why the kids approved of stamp collecting for once

We were having dinner and talked about the head of Henri IV that has been found.
"Where have they found it? " one of our kids asked.
"In a private collection.", I answered.
"You mean, someone collects old heads?".
"Yes, you can be lucky I only collect stamps", and for once they were happy I was collecting just stamps.

Nevertheless, I have my own collection of Henri IV heads.  

In case you have not heard, a team of scientists say they have positively identified an embalmed head, presumed lost in the chaos of the French Revolution, as that of King Henri IV of France who was assassinated in 1610. This is a big deal in France.

The head was lost after revolutionaries desecrated the graves of French kings in the royal basilica of Saint-Denis near Paris in 1793.

A team of experts using advanced scientific techniques say they have conclusively identified the head,
passed down over the centuries by private collectors, as that of the monarch.

The multi-disciplinary team announced the discovery in the British Medical Journal. Features consistent with those of the king's face were found including "a dark mushroom-like lesion" near the right nostril, a healed facial stab wound and a pierced right earlobe. The king is known to have sported an earring, along with others from the Valois court. Many features matched those in portraits of the king. Charlier said three "cutting wounds" were also visible, corresponding to the separation of the head from the body by a revolutionary in 1793.

A digital facial reconstruction of the skull was fully consistent with all known representations of the king and the plaster mold of his face made just after his death.

Henri IV was one of the most popular French kings, known as "the good King Henry".

In 1598, nine years after ascending the throne, he enacted the Edict of Nantes which guaranteed religious
liberties to Protestants and brought to a close over 30 years of fighting between French Protestants and Catholics.

He was assassinated in Paris at the age of 57 by Catholic fanatic Francois Ravaillac.

The head will be buried next year in the Basilica of Saint-Denis.

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