Fully dressed 17th cen­tury no­ble­woman found in France

The China Post - - LIFE -

A lead cof­fin hous­ing the re­mark­ably well-pre­served body of a 17th cen­tury noble woman — still wear­ing her shoes and cap — has been un­earthed in the north­west­ern French city of Rennes.

The 1.45 me­ter corpse was dis­cov­ered in a stone tomb in the chapel of the Saint-Joseph con­vent in March last year.

The re­mains are most likely those of Louise de Quengo, a widow of Bre­ton no­bil­ity who died in 1656 when she was in her 60s.

The heart of her hus­band, Tous­saint de Per­rein, was found nearby, said ar­chae­ol­o­gists at a press con­fer­ence Tues­day.

The body was found at a con­struc­tion site for a fu­ture con­ven­tion cen­ter.

Four other lead coffins dat­ing back to the 17th cen­tury were also found in the con­vent, along with 800 other graves, but they only con­tained skele­tons, un­like the fully pre­served Louise de Quenga.

When ar­chae­ol­o­gists ar­rived at Louise’s tomb, they said they knew some­thing was dif­fer­ent.

“We saw right away that there was a lot of vol­ume, fab­ric, shoes,” said Rozenn Col­leter, ar­chae­ol­o­gist at the French Na­tional In­sti­tute for Preven­ta­tive Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Re­search. Col­leter also said that be­neath the cape, they could dis­tin­guish “hands that were hold­ing a cru­ci­fix.”

Af­ter two scans and an au­topsy, sci­en­tists were able to dis­cover a bit about Louise de Quenga’s med­i­cal his­tory.

“With Louise, we had sur­prise af­ter sur­prise,” said Fabrice De­douit, a ra­di­ol­o­gist and med­i­cal ex­am­iner in Toulouse.

An au­topsy re­vealed “sig­nif­i­cant kid­ney stones” and “lung ad­he­sions,” and the heart was taken out “with real sur­gi­cal mas­tery.”

The clothes, de­te­ri­o­rat­ing from years of de­cay, have been re­stored and are ex- pected to be put on dis­play.

Most likely choos­ing to live out her last days at the con­vent, the widow was found wear­ing a no-frills out­fit con­sist­ing of a cape, a coarse habit, a linen shirt, cork-soled shoes, woolen breeches, a shroud over her face, and sev­eral caps.

Her corpse will be re­buried in Rennes in a few months.


A hand­out pic­ture re­leased by the French Na­tional In­sti­tute for Pre­ven­tive Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Re­search (INRAP) on Tues­day, June 2 shows an arche­ol­o­gist work­ing in Rennes, dur­ing the open­ing of a lead cof­fin con­tain­ing an ex­cep­tion­ally well-pre­served body of a noble woman from the XVII cen­tury wear­ing re­li­gious cloth­ing. The cof­fin was un­earthed dur­ing pre­ven­tive ar­chae­o­log­i­cal ex­ca­va­tions at the Con­vent of the Ja­cobins (cou­vent des Ja­cobins) of Rennes, at the site of the fu­ture con­ven­tion cen­ter in the city.

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