Forensics experts have analyzed the mummified heart of King Richard I, better known as Richard the Lionheart.
Richard the Lionheart was a medieval king of England, dubbed "Lionheart" for his courage in battle. He is known for his central role in the Third Crusade, where he fought against his equally famous Muslim counterpart, Saladin, for control of the Holy Land. The Lionheart was killed in 1199 AD when he was shot with a crossbow bolt during a castle siege in France. The injury wasn't immediately fatal; rather, the King died later, probably of infection.
After his death, King Richard's body was divided up and parts were buried in holy sites all over England. His heart was mummified and buried in Notre Dame Cathedral. The bulk of his bodily remains were buried in Fontrevraud Abbey. The heart was locked in a small box, which was rediscovered in the 19th century.
Now the heart, which is little more than powder, has been subjected to a battery of modern forensics tests. The scientists were not able to determine the exact cause of death, but they did not find any evidence of poison, debunking the claim that the King was struck by a poison arrow. Pollen samples found in the sample suggest the King died somewhere between April and the beginning of June.
The analysis showed that the process of mummification was painstaking, and meant to mimic the process used to prepare Christ's body. Traces of frankincense, myrtle, daisy, and lime were found in the remains. The heart itself was wrapped in linen. Mercury was used to halt decomposition.
Such care was taken because medieval monarchs were considered God's representatives on Earth, so thus there remains were holy. The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.