This is a story of a 17th century burial of French noblewoman who has been recently discovered with her husband’s heart, confirmed by the French scientists. This scientific phenomenon is really unheard to all, although this uniquely romantic gesture really surprises us.
The 65-year old Louise de Quengo, Lady of Brefeillac died in 1656 and her body was well preserved with her leather shoes and simple religious cloaks. Anybody could confirm her identity due to the detailed listing in the burial register of the convent.
The researchers of National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research, France excavated her coffin in 2013. However, everybody got a big surprise after opening the coffin as inside there was a small container in which the heart of her husband, Toussaint de Perrien, Knight of Brefeillac, was found.
As per initial wrong news, burial with the beloved’s heart was a common exercise in pre-revolutionary France; however, it is first known archaeological example of this practice, as per INRAP anthropologist as well as the study co-author Rozenn Colleter.
Some French aristocracy members arranged for some organs for removal after death and burial in different locations; however, this practice was only for serving political and a religious purpose; there was no logic of romance in it.
There was an inscription on the heart-shaped container which says that Toussaint de Perrien died in 1649 – 7 years before the death of Louise and was buried 125 miles away as well.
Colleter, the INRAP researcher thinks that Toussaint’s heart would have been removed after his body was buried and finally it was sealed in an airproof box for preventing decomposition. And finally, it was carried to his widow wife who was alive then. The box was kept by her wife until her death and it was put to her coffin after her burial.
Even a CT scan also revealed that Louise’s heart had also been taken from her body. So, was her heart buried with her husband? As per Colleter, the couple might want to exchange their hearts during their lifespan.
So, if Louise’s heart were ever discovered, be it related to her husband’s burial or something else, it would also possibly carry the same identifying inscription that was found on the box that contains her husband’s, heart.
The separation of a couple
As per the study, a forensic assessment of 483 persons buried in the Jacobin convent between 16-18th centuries unveiled that less than 3% underwent in the organ removal after death. So, this helps assume generally that these kinds of practices were reserved once just for the early European queens and kinds, became gradually more common among the upper-class people because the Middle Ages provided with the way to the Renaissance as well as the early Modern Era.
Directly after the scientific examination of Louise, descendants claimed her body and reburied it in September 2015 adjacent a family castle in Tonquedec. Toussaint’s heart has travelled throughout the centuries in the heart-shaped box and now it is remained in a lab freezer pending probably for the future research.
featured image © ROZENN COLLETER, INRAP