Sunday, December 19, 2010

King Henri IV's Head Found, Still Hated by Fundamentalists

[The embalmed head of one of the best loved, and most hated, kings of France has been identified by scientists 400 years after his assassination.

After nine months of the most advanced forensic tests, the scientists are convinced that a partially preserved 17th-century head, complete with hair, beard and pierced right ear, is that of King Henri IV, the first of the Bourbons and the great-great-great-grandfather of King Louis XVI.

The head has been knocking around Europe in private collections since the ancient tombs of French monarchs at Saint Denis, north of Paris, were desecrated and vandalised during the French Revolution in 1793...

Henri IV, a contemporary of Elizabeth I and William Shakespeare, is remembered as one of the most humane and far-seeing of French monarchs. He was also detested by fundamentalist Catholics and Protestants alike, and was eventually murdered on a Paris street by a diehard Catholic.

Henri de Navarre, who changed his own religion as often as he changed his mistresses, acceded to the throne in 1593 after agreeing finally "to abjure Protestantism". He is reported to have said: "Paris vaut bien une messe (Paris is worth a mass)."

In his 17 years on the throne, he introduced reforms to improve the French economy and promised that every peasant family should have a "chicken in the pot" at weekends. In 1598, the treaty of Nantes guaranteed freedom of worship to Protestants.] emphasis added

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