Henry VII, the eldest son of the Emperor Frederic II and King of Germany died in 1242 and was buried in the cathedral of Cosenza (Calabria, southern Italy). His precious Roman sarcophagus revealed a skeleton, in partial anatomic connection, of a vigorous man, 30-35 years aged and m1.72 tall. The palaeopathological study showed severe deformity of the left rotula, by juvenile fracture of the knee, certainly causing claudication. Chroniclers report the nickname of Henry VII as “the lame”. The facial bones revealed: total resorption of the anterior nasal spine with exposure of cancellous bone and partial cortical "capping"; smooth remodelling of the inferior margins of nasal aperture; bilateral, extensive fine pitting, with remodelled subperiosteal new bone, of the nasal surface of the palatine; confluent pits and erosions on the oral surface in the mid-zone of the palatine processes. These facial findings are patognomonic of the “facies leprosa" or “rhinomaxillary syndrome” of leprosy. The feet showed bilateral thinning of the distal diaphyses of the fourth metatarsals and the proximal phalanxes, with typical resorption of the metatarsophalangeal joints, and severe femoral and tibial periostitis, findings also present in leprosy. We can conclude that this was a case of lepromatous leprosy; the first to be diagnosed by osteoarcheological methods in Italy. It is well known that Henry VII, instigated by the German nobles, rebelled against his father but was defeated in 1235. After his submission he was confined in the castles of southern Italy and died suicide, by fall into a ravine, in 1242, after 7 years of imprisonment. With this discovery we now know that Henry VII was affected by a severe form of leprosy. This disease certainly started some years before his death and the disfiguring conditions must have obliged him to a forced isolation, until his dramatic suicide. On the basis of this scenario Frederic II appears not only less cruel, as a father, but also to be absolved from the severe suspicion of son’s murder.

La lebbra di Enrico VII (1211-1242), figlio dell’imperatore Federico II e re di Germania: prigionia o isolamento?

Fornaciari G
Primo
Writing – Original Draft Preparation
2018

Abstract

Henry VII, the eldest son of the Emperor Frederic II and King of Germany died in 1242 and was buried in the cathedral of Cosenza (Calabria, southern Italy). His precious Roman sarcophagus revealed a skeleton, in partial anatomic connection, of a vigorous man, 30-35 years aged and m1.72 tall. The palaeopathological study showed severe deformity of the left rotula, by juvenile fracture of the knee, certainly causing claudication. Chroniclers report the nickname of Henry VII as “the lame”. The facial bones revealed: total resorption of the anterior nasal spine with exposure of cancellous bone and partial cortical "capping"; smooth remodelling of the inferior margins of nasal aperture; bilateral, extensive fine pitting, with remodelled subperiosteal new bone, of the nasal surface of the palatine; confluent pits and erosions on the oral surface in the mid-zone of the palatine processes. These facial findings are patognomonic of the “facies leprosa" or “rhinomaxillary syndrome” of leprosy. The feet showed bilateral thinning of the distal diaphyses of the fourth metatarsals and the proximal phalanxes, with typical resorption of the metatarsophalangeal joints, and severe femoral and tibial periostitis, findings also present in leprosy. We can conclude that this was a case of lepromatous leprosy; the first to be diagnosed by osteoarcheological methods in Italy. It is well known that Henry VII, instigated by the German nobles, rebelled against his father but was defeated in 1235. After his submission he was confined in the castles of southern Italy and died suicide, by fall into a ravine, in 1242, after 7 years of imprisonment. With this discovery we now know that Henry VII was affected by a severe form of leprosy. This disease certainly started some years before his death and the disfiguring conditions must have obliged him to a forced isolation, until his dramatic suicide. On the basis of this scenario Frederic II appears not only less cruel, as a father, but also to be absolved from the severe suspicion of son’s murder.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11568/933590
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