Henry IV of France Gets his Head Back

Henry IV of France Gets his Head BackParis, Dec 17. -A story of intrigue, secrets and misunderstandings ended on Wednesday when scientists confirm the authentication of the head of King Henry IV of France, found after several centuries search.

The most beloved ruler of France, the man that renounced the Protestant religion for Catholicism, and made famous the phrase "Paris is well worth a mass", is back in the news after it was confirmed that the head uncovered in 2008 is his.

Le bon roi Henry or Hewnri le Grand (The good king or Henry the Great) was killed on May 14, 1610 in Paris by Francois Ravillac, a troubled Catholic fanatic who could not stand the religious policy of the monarch.

Henri IV was buried in the Basilica of Saint-Denis as were all the kings, but in 1793 his coffin was opened and probably his body was thrown into a mass grave and his head disappeared, according to historians.

The research, led by Dr. Philippe Charlier, a forensic expert of Garches and in which 19 scientists took part, was initially based on the uncovered remains which were well embalmed.

The King's head was bought by an antique dealer for three francs in 1919. He tried to sell it to the Louvre and Carnavalet museums but no one believed it belonged to Henry IV.

The search and the studies made for years failed until 2008, when the clues led investigators to the house of an 84-year-old pensioner. In fact, the man had jealously kept the head in secret since 1955. Surprised, scientists unveiled on Wednesday the stunning news.

The scientists say the head is in excellent state of preservation, with some hair, slightly tanned beard remains, and eyes half closed. Also shows traces of a previous assassination attempt.

Considered a genius in forensic medicine, Dr. Charlier, 33, had already proved that the remains preserved in the Castle of Chinon were not those of Joan of Arc, thus fanning up the controversy about whether the French heroin was burned at the stake.(Prensa Latina)