Europe

Stolen heart of French queen consort Anne of Brittany found

A picture shows the solid gold casket which contained the heart of the French queen Anne of Brittany, exposed by the castle of Blois, central France, as part of the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of her death, on 21 March 2014. Image copyright AFP
Image caption The golden casket holds the heart of the French queen Anne, who died over 500 years ago

French police have recovered a solid gold casket containing the heart of one of Brittany's most famous heroines, stolen from a Nantes museum last week.

The 16th Century relic belonging to Duchess Anne was taken along with other items, fuelling fears it would be melted for its value in gold.

Police arrested two men who on Saturday led them to the buried, but safe, haul near the western city of Saint Nazaire.

Duchess Anne was the only woman crowned queen consort of France twice.

She was reputed to be one of Europe's richest women and was first betrothed to the young Prince Edward of England.

But the prince disappeared in his early teens, along with his brother Richard - his uncle King Richard III was widely blamed.

Anne went on to marry two French royals, Charles VIII in 1491 and then his cousin Louis XII in 1498.

The golden reliquary is a 500g heart-shaped box with an inscription in old French.

The Breton authorities had earlier made a plea for the return of the priceless artefact as they believed the thieves may not have realised the historical value of the heart, which was saved from being melted down after the 1789 French Revolution.

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