The tragic death of Richard the Lionheart

History writes that after Richard the Lionheart died in 1199, people removed portions of his corpse and buried them separately in accordance with royal custom. His entrails were interred in the place where he died: Châlus. His body would rest in pieces beside his father, Henry II. And Richard's mummified lion heart was placed in a lead case and kept at the Notre-Dame cathedral in Rouen. When scientists analyzed the remains of Richard's heart eight centuries later, time had reduced it to "a grey-brown powder," per the BBC.

The analysis revealed that Richard's heart had been wrapped in linen and embalmed with an array of herbs and spices, including myrtle, mint, daisy, and frankincense. The researchers believe these were meant to give his heart the aroma of Christ, so one can only assume Richard's body was baked in bread and dipped in wine to give it a Christlike flavor. The results also resolved a debate about the nature of Richard's death.

Contrary to what some people argued, Richard the Lionheart wasn't killed by a poison-tipped arrow. Instead, it seems likely that he died anticlimactically of gangrene or sepsis amid a battle for a rather inconsequential castle.

The Lionheart sleeps tonight

Prior to his demise at the age of 41, Richard the Lionheart had taken life's best shots and absorbed them like medieval Kevlar. He bravely waged the Third Crusade, matching wartime wits with the brilliantly lethal Saladin and withstood withering assaults from Mother Nature herself. According to Richard of Holy Trinity, the valiant Crusader king grappled with "fatigue, rain, hail, and floods, so that it might be thought all heaven had conspired to destroy them." Horses and men were swallowed by mud, "never to rise again." ThoughtCo writes that Richard also survived a harrowing storm at sea.

After fighting Saladin to a stalemate and reaching a truce, Richard found himself trapped in a different lion's den. The Ancient History Encyclopedia explains that Richard had pissed off Leopold of Austria by insulting him during the Third Crusade. Unfortunately, a storm forced the lion king to pass through Leopold's turf in Venice. Though he tried to disguise himself, Richard was captured and imprisoned in Vienna. He survived that, too. Rather the thing that did him in was a battle over land with his former co-crusader: Philip II of France. As the Medievalist puts it, "He was slain during a siege of a small and seemingly unimportant French castle." Shot in the shoulder by a crossbow bolt while observing the action, he appears to have died from a wound infection.