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I’ll teach you people to talk about food on my blog

Somehow, in the run up to the holidays, I missed this heartwarming story: they have (more or less) positively identified the head of French king Henri IV. It’s been banging around in private collections for a years without proper identification. They couldn’t get a clean DNA sample, so they identified him from marks and scars.

Henri was a good and popular king who was stabbed to death by a nutter in 1610. He was decapitated in the Revolution almost 200 years later. Nothing personal; the mob desecrated all the dead royalty they could get their hands on. A sort of posthumous guillotinage.

Interesting to me, when I was Googling around about the story, the amount of outrage commenters expressed that anyone would keep a body part as a knick-knack. Now, there’s an area where Western attitudes have changed mightily in a hundred years or two.

In the early 19th C, they had to box up the royalty at Westminster Abbey because people were snapping bits off the monarchs for souvenirs (yep, some of their majesties had been out on display before then). The churches around here are full of dessicated bits of jerky certified to be the hearts of knights and other benefactors. Don’t get me started on the toe bones of saints.

People aren’t keen on taxidermy any more, either. The shabby antiques markets we used to haunt up in London were full of beautifully-worked Victorian silver-mounted deer hooves and rhino pizzles.

Well, me neither. I grew up in a house full of taxidermy and medical curiosities, though, so I can’t work up any outrage. Disgust born of familiarity, but not much outrage.

Oh, except for the kittens.

Welcome back to work, everyone!

January 3, 2011 — 7:20 pm
Comments: 21