The circumstances surrounding the death in 1370 of Prince Sancho of Castile and Sandoval are one of the most enigmatic chapters in the history of the Spanish monarchy. The prince died when he was around 7 years old and he was a natural son of King Pedro I of Castile, called "Pedro the Cruel". The historic data available do not totally clarify how he died. Some historians suspected that he could have been poisoned while he was imprisoned with his brother Diego.
A multidisciplinary group of researchers, coordinated by Doctor Miguel C. Botella, head of the Laboratory of Physical Anthropology of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Granada, studied in detail the remains of the Prince from a morphological, anatomopathological and toxicological point of view. Specialists from the Hospital Clínic of Barcelona, the University of Alcalá de Henares, the Health Service (SESCAM) of Toledo, the General Directorate of the Scientific Police of Madrid and the University of Granada took part in this study.
The data from the research were presented on 21st December 2006 in an event held in the Convent of Santo Domingo el Real in Toledo. The data reveal that the Prince was not poisoned, as was widely believed until now, and that the most probable cause was a chronic infectious lung disease. This study was awarded a subsidy of 7,000 euros by the Department of Culture of the Regional Government of Castile-La Mancha.
The first stage of the study consisted of a computerised tomography in the Virgen de la Salud Hospital in Toledo, which did not show any traumatism that could have caused the child's death. In order to complete the analysis and obtain as much data as possible, a high precision 3D scanner was used. This CAT showed that the growth parameters of the child were normal for his age and also helped to identify remains of encephalic matter. In the near future, the image analysis research group is going to try to make a 3D reconstruction of the face of the child, in order to show how he looked. This study will be carried out at the Laboratory of Anthropology of the University of Granada, which is the only laboratory of this kind in Europe. The work carried out by Miguel C. Botella, will be followed by a regeneration of finger tissue in the department of Zoology and Physical Anthropology of the University of Alcalá de Henares in Madrid.
Histopathologic study of the mummy
Subsequently, an analysis of the remains of Prince Sancho of Castile was carried out by the Paleopathology Group of the Hospital Clínic of Barcelona, which is the only group specialised in the histopathologic study of mummies in Spain. This group is part of the Pathological Anatomy Service of this hospital. Thanks to the authorization and collaboration of the Dominican Sisters of the convent, and the most up-to-date and complete endoscopic equipment loaned by the company Olympus, the group conducted an anatomopathological and toxicological study of the soft tissue of the mummy. Using flexible instruments of 5 mm. in diameter, with a high quality image and depth of field, the inside of the mummy was studied, and some biological samples were taken, respecting the physical integrity of the remains of the Prince. Small portions of preserved tissues were extracted, such as the optical nerve, the heart or the lung and some areas of the craneum, the inside of the spinal column and the abdomen, were examined and some samples were taken.
The collection of samples which at present have provided most information to the research group coordinated by the UGR lecturer were extracted from the lung, which seems to have a higher volume than expected after mummification. The tests carried out until now on this tissue seem to indicate a chronic exposure to smoke, probably from a fireplace, and a frequent presence of alveolar macrophages and red blood cells, which could be associated with an inflammatory and hemorrhagic process. Scanning electron microscopy has not yet detected any poison, such as arsenic or cyanide. Although the study will provide further results, it now is thought that the Prince died a natural death and was not poisoned as was suspected. The most probable cause of death, according to this study, was a chronic infectious lung process.
Lecturer Miguel C. Botella. Department of Physical Anthropology of the UGR. Phone: 958 243 533. Mobile phone: 650 486 528. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jueves, 21 de Diciembre de 2006
One of the most enigmatic chapters in the history of the Spanish monarchy has been clarified: Prince Sancho was not poisoned
- The study was carried out by a multidisciplinary group headed by Dr. Miguel C. Botella (Faculty of Medicine of the University of Granada), and coordinated by Sister María Jesús Galán (Convent of Santo Domingo el Real, in Toledo).- The study involved the analysis of the mummified remains of the Prince.