The Head of Good King Henry

Posted on January 21, 2020


Henry IV was one of the most beloved kings in French history (ignore the assassination), so of course his head went missing and was later found in someone’s attic. A reconstruction proves it!


Or maybe not.

Three years ago, Philippe Charlier, an osteo-archaeologist from France’s University Hospital Raymond-Poincaré in Garches, used a forensic exam to confirm that the head belonged to Henry IV. He found an exact match between a 3D projection of the skull and the king’s death mask, NBC reports. He also noted that the mummy had an oddly shaped mole on its nostril and a pierced right ear. Both of these features are seen in Henry’s portraits.

A more recent study, published Wednesday in the European Journal of Human Genetics, concluded that the mummified head’s genes don’t match up with three living male relatives of the old French king. The researchers also didn’t find much evidence in matrilineal genealogical data.

But Charlier was quick to defend his research. He pointed out that royal lineages are often dotted with illegitimate offspring, which might have muddled the gene pool.

If you missed it, here is the video we watched in class on the French Reformation to add more context to the Edict of Nantes.

Posted in: AP World History