Saturday, March 02, 2013

They come along like buses

Typical, you wait decades for news of a King and then two come along in relatively quick succession. Hot on the heels, or tyre tracks, of Richard III's cunning plan to avoid paying an extra charge at his local car park by burying himself under it, surely the ultimate in local tax avoidance, comes the news that Richard I was part of a nascent home improvement industry back in 12th century.

Scientists have discovered that the 'Lionhearts' heart was was preserved with mercury and tar before being "sweetened" with herbs to make it smell nice after his death, researchers have found.  They found that embalmers preparing him for burial after death had used mercury and tar-like creosote to preserve the heart which had then been daubed with frankincense, myrtle, daisy and mint to make it smell sweet, before it was wrapped in linen and placed in a lead-lined box.

Richard I heart and his body were buried separately, this wasn't unusual in the middle ages or even later for that matter, I can think of two instances fairly local to us where a heart has been buried in one place and the body in another. Richard was killed during the siege of Chalus and his heart was subsequently buried in Rouen Cathedral, his body was buried at Fontevraud Abbey in the western Loire Valley, and his entrails interred in Chalus.

                                                  Fontrevaud Abbey

Fontrevaud Abbey is a great place to spend a day, we visited it back in 1990 when it seemed that French builders were still in the process of completing the building work. I have several photographs of the cloisters which were an oasis of cool on a very hot day.


                                         Tomb of Richard I

Of course the recent revelations about Richard I and Richard III does make you wonder whether or not scientific methods will ever be applied to solve the long time mysteries of Perkin Warbeck and Lambert Simnel


Span Ows said...

By amazing coincidence today I was reading and writing about the other Richard, he of the Peasant's Revolt etc. Richard II's death was also shrouded in some sort of mystery as stories have always remained that he didn't die where and when they said.

Paul said...

Yes, Richard II death is the original conspiracy theory isn't it (well after that bloke whose body vanished from his tomb behind a big rock somewhere in the middle east)? I mean how many people would have turned up at the public display of his dead body knowing what he looked like?

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