Eternal Hearts—History of Heart Burial in Europe

14. The Rest of Europe

In England the Normans and later the Plantagenets removed the entrails of many of their dead kings. Here, as in Ireland and Scotland too, many heart burials took place up to the 20th century. For the Anglo-Saxon–French area Bradford comes to the following estimate: In the 12th century approx. 20, in the 13th–16th centuries over 200, in the 17th century 190, in the 18th century approx. 120 and in the 19th and 20th centuries approx. 45 heart burials.

In the countries bordering the Mediterranean, burials of this type were more seldom, as they also were in the northern protestant states and European Russia. They were much more common in countries of the former Habsburg Danubian monarchy, such as the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and the Ukraine. Also, more than 100 Polish hearts were buried separately from the corpse after the Christianization of the Polish kingdom, more than 90 in the country itself, the rest in today's Ukraine, in Belarus, Lithuania, Italy and France.

There are no records of heart burials in non-European countries. The only exceptions are Europeans who left their native countries, like the Bristish explorer Livingstone, as well as the South American freedom fighter Simon Bolivar (†1830) and the Sioux chieftain Crazy Horse (†1887), although these two are not historically confirmed.

15. The 19th century

Chopin's cardiotaph in the Holy Cross Church in
                  Warsaw (Josef Kreuzer)Although, in the century of Enlightenment, a number of both religious and secular princedoms did without the established heart burial, the myth of the heart, especially in the Romantic period, and the desire to have one's heart buried together with a loved one in a special place caught on with creative artists, that is sculptors, musicians, writers and other celebrities.

Chopin's heart (†1849) was brought back to his people, in the Holy Cross church in Warsaw. As late as 1925 the heart of the winner of the Nobel Prize for literature Wladyslaw Reymont was united with the heart of his famous compatriot.

< Chopin's cardiotaph in the Holy Cross Church in Warsaw (Josef Kreuzer)

The composer of ballads Carl Loewe (†1869) had his heart laid to rest in the great C-pipe of his organ in St. Jakobi in Szczecin.

The hearts of the poet Byron (†1824), his friend Shelley (†1822), the Austrian Lenau (†1850), Charlotte Elisabeth Speck (†1836)—member of the upper classes—, the sculptor Canova (†1822), the freedom fighter Bolivar (†1830), of Livingstone, the Africa explorer (†1873), and of the famous traveller and landscape gardener Fürst von Pückler-Muskau (†1871), were just a few of many who underwent this treatment.

 

Pyramid with the heart of Fürst von Pückler and
                  the body of his wife in the park of Branitz (Armin
                  Dietz)

^ Pyramid with the heart of Fürst von Pückler and the body of his wife in the park of Branitz (Armin Dietz)

16. The end of heart burials

Right up to the present day, celebrities have determined the place where they long for their heart to reside:

The heart of the English author Thomas Hardy (†1928) rests with his first wife in his park near Stinsford, whilst the heart of the founder of the modern Olympic Games, Baron Pierre de Coubertin (†1937), is in a stele in front of the ancient stadium in Olympia.

The last of the Wittelsbach dynasty, whose heart came to Altötting, was the crown princess Antonie von Luxemburg (†1954). The last empress of the House of Habsburg, Zita of Bourbon-Parma (+1989), her son Otto of Habsburg (+2011) and his spouse Regina of Saxe-Meiningen were possibly the last who, in the tradition of their dynasty, desired a separate burial for their hearts.

The heart stele of Baron Pierre de
                          Coubertin (Armin Dietz)
Empress Zita with her grandson
Heart grave of the couple Emperor Karl I
                          and Zita in the Loreto chapel of the monastery
                          Muri in Switzerland (Armin Dietz)
^ The heart stele of Baron Pierre de Coubertin (Armin Dietz) ^ Empress Zita with her grandson ^ Heart grave of the couple Emperor Karl I and Zita in the Loreto chapel of the monastery Muri in Switzerland (Armin Dietz)
Heart Urn of Otto
                        Habsburg
< Heart urn of Otto von Habsburg in Pannonhalma (Hungar)

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