PARIS — King Richard I, the 12th century warrior whose bravery during the Third Crusade gained him the moniker Lionheart, ended up with a heart full of daisies, as well as myrtle, mint and frankincense.
Those are among the findings of a French study, announced Thursday, that analyzed the embalmed heart of the English king who died in 1199.
The biomedical analysis also uncovered less flowery and spicy elements like creosote, mercury and perhaps lime in the heart, which was kept in the city of Rouen.
Despite the embalming ingredients, the heart turned to powder long ago, doubtless because the lead box cradling it wasn't airtight.
Study leader Philippe Charlier suggests the flowers and spices were to give the king the "odor of sanctity." The study came out less than a month after British archeologists uncovered the long-lost remains of 15th century King Richard III — a relative but not a direct descendant of Richard I — under a parking lot in Leicester, England.
Unlike that ignominious ending, Richard the Lionheart, leader of the Third Crusade, was ceremoniously laid to rest in three places. His entrails were interred in the central French town of Chalus, where he died in a skirmish with a rebellious baron; his body reposes at the Fontevraud Abbey, beside his father, Henry II, and later his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine; and his heart, wrapped in linen, pickled for posterity and placed in a lead box, was sent on to the Cathedral of Rouen.
The study was published in Scientific Reports, part of the Nature Publishing Group.