TECHNICAL SPECSThe years following the French Revolution were ones of great turbulence. The upheaval no greater than during the period known as ‘The Terror’, at its height between June 1793 and July 1794, when revolutionary zealots led by Robespierre in the Committee For Public Safety began their campaign of mass executions and political purges that gave this attack on counter-revolutionary elements in the nascent French state its grisly reputation. Desecrations of anything connected to royalty were commonplace. In 1793, the royal chapel at Saint Denis was ransacked by marauding revolutionary hoards and the body of King Henri IV was disinterred and decapitated and his head stolen. But now, Henri's head, thought lost to history, has reappeared, discovered in a French attic. A team of scientists have used the latest forensic techniques to try and confirm that the head was that of Henri IV. The head still has a covering of brown papery skin, but unfortunately, due to the impossibility of finding a sample that could be guaranteed to be uncontaminated, none of it could be DNA tested for verification of identity. Rather Henri’s well known features, recognisable from portraits and busts – a lesion near his nose, a pierced ear and healed facial wound – were all used as markers. And a digital facial reconstruction made from the skull was also a match with his death mask conserved in Sainte-Genevieve Library in Paris.
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