Henri IV's Long-Lost Skull: Found in an Attic?

Mystery of French monarch's head still divides the experts
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 16, 2013 3:43 PM CST
Henri IV's Long-Lost Skull: Found in an Attic?
This undated photo provided by Galaxie Presse Thursday Dec.16, 2010 shows what is believed to be the head of former French King Henry IV, right, and his portrait on an engraving.    (AP Photo/Galaxie Presse)

That may be Richard III's skeleton found under a British parking lot—but what about Henri IV's long-lost skull? A new book about the French monarch argues that his skull turned up in the attic of a retired tax collector, the Guardian reports. Critics groan that Henri IV: The Mystery of a Headless King relies more on fiction than fact, but one expert says DNA tests link the skull to decapitated royal Louis XVI, who shared Henri IV's genetic heritage.

Born Catholic but raised Calvinist, the much-admired Henri IV ended that nation's vicious religious wars and aimed to improve life for the downtrodden. But he was murdered by a Catholic fundamentalist in 1610, dug up by French revolutionaries in 1793, tossed in a mass grave, and discovered headless in 1817. In 2008, the skull in question turned up in a house in western France, "mummified ... well conserved, impressive," says Stéphane Gabet, co-author of Henri IV. "It was a magic moment." One argument against the find: It still contained a brain, which would have been extracted by royal embalmers. (More Richard III stories.)

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