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In the grave with the heart of her husband.

In the tomb of a nobleman of the seventeenth century in Rennes, France, found a small lead urn containing the embalmed heart of the deceased spouse, who died seven years ago. It is the first discovery of this kind.

Toussaint de Perrien the heart of Brefeillac Knight, was closed in this lead container after the death, in 1649, and then buried with Louise de Quengo, his wife, the death of this seven years later. A romantic aspect in an archaeological discovery that has no known precedents in the dawn of the modern European burials.

The lead coffin of Louise de Quengo, Lady of Brefeillac, was unearthed in 2013 at the former site of the Convent of the Jacobins in Rennes, in France by researchers of the Institut national de recherches archéologiques préventives (INRAP). The body of the woman who died at 65, in 1656, appeared unusually well-preserved in its lead coffin, with a religious cloak and leather shoes still intact. His identity was confirmed by studying a detailed list of names in the register of burials of the convent. But the inspection of the coffin has attracted an even bigger surprise: inside there was a small lead container that contained the heart of the husband of the deceased, Toussaint de Perrien, of Brefeillac Knight. At first it was thought, incorrectly, that the burial with the heart of a spouse or a lover was a common practice in pre-revolutionary France, but in fact this is the first known example in archeology. It was known that some members of the French nobility had requested explantation of some post-mortem organs for a separate burial, but until now this practice was known only for political and religious purposes, not with romantic purposes, expression of a reunification spouse in death.

In lead coffins and urns containing the remains of the upper classes in France it has often been merged during the Revolution to make bullets. According to the inscription on the urn in the shape of heart, Toussaint de Perrien died in 1649, seven years before Louise, and was buried 200 kilometers away, in a Carmelite convent that man founded near Carhaix. The heart of Toussaint would be removed before his burial in the small sealed lead container airtight to prevent decomposition, and taken to the Jacobin convent of Rennes, where Louise was left to live his remaining years as a widow. Until his death, the casket was most likely exposed in the chapel where she used to pray and Louise, in the end, she was buried. A CAT scan of the Louise de Quengo body revealed that his heart had been removed from the body.

Computed tomography of the remains of Louise de Quengo revealed that his heart had been removed from the body before burial. And here the question arises: Louise’s heart was buried with Toussaint? it is quite logical that the couple had planned the exchange of hearts alive. Unfortunately, it is the burial site of Toussaint in Carhaix that Louise heart are yet to be discovered, but almost certainly, if Louise’s heart will never be found, with the burial of her husband or elsewhere, should bring the written similar identification those found on the urn containing the heart of Toussaint. The urn heart-shaped Toussaint is one of five similar found in the excavations of the Jacobin convent. The other four containers, which date between 1584 and 1685, contain human hearts and inscriptions, but do not seem to be associated with any of the burial site. The study authors suggest that these polls may possibly have been removed from their original positions and hidden from the convent authorities to preserve them during the French Revolution, when caskets and urns of lead that held the remains of the nobles were melted down to make bullets. More than 1,380 tombs from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century, mainly belonging to the clergy and the nobility, were recovered by the excavations of the former Jacobin convent, which is about to become a conference center. According to the study, the forensic analysis of 483 individuals buried in the convent between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, revealed that less than three per cent of the bodies had undergone the removal of organs after death and / or embalming intentional. These results appear to challenge the general assumption that such practices, once only reserved for the early European kings and queens, have become increasingly common among the upper classes, from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance and then in the modern era.

After the scientific investigation on the remains of Louise de Quengo, his body was claimed by descendants and re-buried in September 2015 in a family castle, in Tonquédec. The heart of Toussaint de Perrien, and the lead container that has traveled through the centuries, remains instead in a laboratory freezer waiting for possible future studies.



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