Of the many barbarous acts committed during the orgy of destruction that was the French revolution, the desecration of the Royal Sepulchre in the Basilica of Saint Denis was one of the most heinous (after, perhaps, the mass murder of a fair portion of the populace). Dozens of tombs were opened, their occupents removed and transferred to two nearby mass graves where they were covered with lime in an attempt to dissolve them.
Now, thanks to the miracles of modern science, a full reinterment of the Bourbon and Valois kings may be possible:
19 November 2010
Multidisciplinary medical identification of a French king’s head (Henri IV)
Philippe Charlier and a multidisciplinary team explain how they confirmed an embalmed head to be that of the French king Henry IV using a combination of anthropological, paleopathological, radiological, forensic, and genetic techniques
Since the desecration of the French kings’ graves in the basilica of Saint-Denis by the revolutionaries in 1793, few remains of these mummified bodies have been preserved and identified. After a multidisciplinary analysis, we confirmed that an embalmed head reputed to be that of the French king Henri IV and conserved in successive private collections did indeed belong to that monarch.
Now positively identified according to the most rigorous arguments of any forensic anthropology examination, the French king’s head will be reinterred in the royal basilica of Saint-Denis after a solemn funeral ceremony. Similar methods could be used to identify all the other kings’ and queens’ skeletons lying in the mass grave of the basilica, so that they can be returned to their original tombs
Vive le Roi!