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France shocked by theft of Queen Anne’s gold-encased heart

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Reliquary
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Reliquary
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Reliquary containing the heart of Anne of Brittany

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Reliquary

Outrage after reliquary stolen from museum in Nantes

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Monday, April 16, 2018 - 2:14pm

The theft of a gold case containing the heart of the only woman twice crowned queen of France has provoked outrage.

The reliquary, which has held the heart of Anne of Brittany since her death 504 years ago, was taken from the Thomas-Dobree Museum in Nantes on Friday night. Measuring just six inches across, the oval case is of “enormous historical value”, says The Sunday Telegraph.

Philippe Grosvalet, the president of the Loire-Atlantique authority, which owns the museum, said: “The thieves attacked our common heritage and stole an item of inestimable value. Much more than a symbol, the case containing the heart of Anne of Brittany belongs to our history.”

His colleague Catherine Touchefeu added: “If the thieves were motivated by the fact that it is shiny and made of gold, they should understand that its historical and symbolic value far outweighs its 100 grams of gold.”

Anne of Brittany married Charles VIII of France in 1491 at the age of 12, ascending the throne as queen consort. However, Charles died without an heir in 1498, and she married Louis XII a year later.

Throughout her reign, Anne defended the autonomy of Brittany, then a duchy, from greater France, says the Telegraph.

Although Nantes is not in modern Brittany, it was part of the historical duchy and is still culturally connected to the region. Anne’s body was buried near Paris following her death in 1514 – but, at her own request, her heart was returned to her homeland.

The golden reliquary, considered a masterpiece of early-16th century metalwork, was originally placed in Anne’s parents’ tomb in a monastery chapel in Nantes. It had been on display at the Thomas-Dobree Museum for 130 years.

The Local reports that regional officials have issued a plea to the thieves to return the priceless artefact, which was stolen along with a golden Hindu statue and a collection of gold coins.

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