Richard The Lionheart's Mummified Heart Analyzed

Created: 2013-03-01 13:32 EST

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A study by French scientists showed on Thursday that the heart of English King Richard the Lionheart had been embalmed with special herbs and spices, in a ritual designed to help the King go to heaven faster.

Scientist Philippe Charlier discusses the results of the first study on Richard the Lionheart's mummified heart.

[Philippe Charlier, Scientist]:
"He had been a bit criticised during the Crusade when he had been particularly cruel, people started to talk when he died, so very special care had to be brought to his body and especially for his heart, with herbs and spices which were not chosen by accident. We know by historic sources that those herbs and spices were used to make the time Richard the Lionheart would spend in purgatory shorter and give him a kind of odour of sanctity."

The remains of King Richard the First's heart were kept locked in a sealed box, and the pollen found on the heart matches the exact time of the Kings death, leaving scientists sure that the heart is authentic.

[Philippe Charlier, Scientist]:
"We really are absolutely sure that this heart really is Richard the Lionheart's.”

Richard the Lionheart died in 1199 in France and while his body was buried in the Fontevraud abbey, his heart was buried separately in the Rouen cathedral, some 300 kilometers away.

This study is the first on the remains of his heart, and is the oldest heart ever studied with forensics.