Le cœur embaumé du roi Richard Ier-RELICS

The embalmed heart of King Richard I

King Richard I, or Richard the Lionheart, was known for his courage and military prowess during the Crusades. He died in the small castle of Châlus-Chabrol in 1199, after being hit by a peasant's crossbow. A surgeon botched the arrow removal, and Richard died when the wound became septic.

In accordance with tradition, his entrails were removed and buried at Châlus, in the very cathedral from which the fatal arrow had been fired. His body was sent to Fontevraud Abbey to be buried in a tomb next to his father's, but his heart was removed and sent to Rouen. He was embalmed and buried in a sarcophagus bearing his likeness in the Notre-Dame de Rouen church.

During the renovation of the church in the 19th century, a small lead box was discovered under the effigy of Richard the Lionheart. On the lid was inscribed the phrase"HIC IACET COR RICARDI REGIS ANGLORUM"-"Behold the heart of Richard, King of England". Inside the box was a fine, rusty powder, all that was left of the king's heart. A 2013 forensic analysis revealed that the organ had been wrapped in fine linen, scented with herbs, flowers and lime. Traces of rare incense were also found on the ancient heart, an allusion to the Christ-like nature of the king.

Despite their scientific intrigue and historical significance, these human remains should be treated with respect. The royal heart was re-interred in the coffin in Rouen.

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