Something was rotten in the state of Denmark

01-30-2009, 08:01 PM

400-year-old murder mystery of astronomer 'to be solved'

A tale of murderous intrigue involving a king, a queen and a brilliant scientist could finally come to a close after 400 years as researchers are preparing to exhume the remains of the celebrated Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe following new leads that he was poisoned by a contract killer.

Tycho, known by his first name was the custom of the epoch. He has gained scientific repute for his unparalleled bare-eye observations of the skies before telescope was invented and became the first astronomer to discover a supernova, as well to catalogue over thousand new stars.

The flamboyant aristocrat was also famous for his eccentric lifestyle and appearance: he is said to have lost his nose in a drunken duel as a student and used various prostheses of gold, silver and copper. His favourite pet was a moose that entertained the guests at his castle on the island of Hven off the Danish coast, accompanied by a supposedly clairvoyant dwarf named Jepp. The moose died after falling down the stairs following a dinner party when it was given too much beer to drink.

Danish researchers have now found evidence that Tycho, who was also revered as an astrologist and alchemist, was murdered on the orders of his king, Christian IV of Denmark, who instructed the astronomer's cousin to poison him with mercury.

The new leads derive from the diary of Count Eric Brahe, the alleged murderer and a distant relative to the astronomer, who travelled to Prague, where Tycho settled towards the end of his life, to meet Tycho days before his death.

"The diary contains the details of the attack and, indirectly, the murderer's confession," said Professor Peter Andersen, a specialist on literature and history of the Danish renaissance, who found the lost diary last year.

Professor Andersen claims that King Christian IV ordered the murder of Tycho because of rumours that the astronomer had a liaison with his mother, Queen Sophie, and could even have been his father. He even believes that Shakespeare was aware of the rumour and that he might have used it as inspiration for the plot of Hamlet, which was written around the time of Tycho's death.

Historians have so far been unable to explain why King Christian IV turned against Tycho, who was Denmark's most popular scientist, and forced him to flee to Prague and take up service with the Habsburg Emperor Rudolph II.

An analysis of hair from Tycho's beard kept in a Czech museum has confirmed that he ingested a large and probably lethal dose of mercury on the day before his death, when he was visited by his cousin.

An international team of archaeologists and forensic experts headed by the Danish archaeologist Jens Vellev from the University of Aarhus have now filed a request to exhume Tycho's remains from the ancient vault in the Tyn Cathedral in central Prague.

A popular legend has so far indicated that Tycho died after his bladder burst at a banquet organised by a German baron in Prague because he was too polite to excuse himself from the festive occasion.

Danes want to exhume Tycho Brahe in Prague

ČTK / 20 January
Prague, Jan 19 (CTK) - Danes want to exhume the remains of famous Danish astronomer Tycho de Brahe (1546-1601), who lived at the court of Czech King and Habsburg Emperor Rudolf II in Prague where he died and was buried in Prague's Tyn Church, the server has said.
The reason of the death of the famous Danish astronomer and the way how he died still remains a mystery. The Danish scientists rightly suspect that he was murdered on the orders of Danish King Christian IV.
A team of Danish researchers wants to come to Prague and exhume the remains of Brahe.
Historian Peter Christensen recently shocked the Danish public by his discovery of a diary of Brahe's alleged murderer. It was allegedly Swedish aristocrat Erik Brahe, Tycho de Brahe's distant relative.
However, a statement that the murder was ordered by Danish King Christian IV himself is the most surprising part of his revelation. This can cast a shadow on Denmark's history because King Christian IV is considered an educated ruler and a positive figure in Danish history.
The scientific team whose task will be to take a sample of bones from Tycho de Brahe's remains is to be headed by archeologist Jens Vellev who is a supporter of the theory about his murder.
A parish near the church of Our Lady before Tyn in Prague's Old Town confirmed to that they have really received a request for the opening of Brahe's grave.
"The matter is in the stage of consideration. As far as I know no decision has been made yet. The final say is up to Cardinal Miloslav Vlk," Stepan Filipec, Tyn Church pastoral assistant, told the server.
Czech heritage protectors should also issue their position. There has been no burials in churches since the time of King Joseph II in the late 18th century and the opening of such an old tomb is extraordinary, he said.

In an additional note, Tycho was assisted by Johannes Kepler, who would later use Tycho's astronomical information to develop his own theories.

from Wikipedia's Tycho page:

Tycho died on 24 October 1601 in Prague, eleven days after suddenly becoming very ill during a banquet. Toward the end of his illness he is said to have told Kepler "Ne frustra vixisse videar!", "Let me not seem to have lived in vain”.[13] ([14] ( For hundreds of years, the general belief was that he had strained his bladder ( It had been said that to leave the banquet before it concluded would be the height of bad manners, and so he remained, and that his bladder, stretched to its limit, developed an infection which later killed him. This theory was supported by Kepler's first-hand account.
Recent investigations have suggested that Tycho did not die from urinary problems but instead from mercury ( poisoning: extremely toxic levels of it have been found in his hair and hair-roots. Tycho may have poisoned himself by imbibing some medicine containing unintentional mercuric chloride ( impurities, or may have been poisoned.[15] (
One theory proposed in a 2005 book by Joshua Gilder and Anne-Lee Gilder, suggests that there is circumstantial evidence that Kepler murdered Brahe; they argue that Kepler had the means, motive, and opportunity, and stole Tycho's data on his death.[16] ( According to the Gilders, they find it "unlikely"[16] ( Tycho could have poisoned himself since he was an alchemist known to be familiar with the toxicity of different mercury compounds.
Another theory is proposed by Peter Andersen, professor of German Studies at the University of Strasbourg ( Andersen discovered the 600-page diary of Count Erik Brahe, a distant Swedish cousin of Tycho. He suggests Erik murdered Tycho, by order of King Christian IV of Denmark (, who suspected that Tycho had had an affair with his mother Sophie ([17] ( In 2009, a group of cons ervators, chemists and physicians plan to open the vault and perform a forensic analysis on the body.[17] (
Tycho Brahe's body is currently interred in a tomb in the Church of Our Lady in front of Týn (, in Old Town Square ( near the Prague Astronomical Clock (

01-30-2009, 10:22 PM
Let sleeping dog's lie ;)

01-30-2009, 10:59 PM
Wow. Maybe the Pope sucked Galileo's dick and the astronomer tried to black mail him :devil:

01-31-2009, 05:14 PM
Wow. Maybe the Pope sucked Galileo's dick and the astronomer tried to black mail him :devil:

Am I missing something? What is the relevance of this to Tycho?

01-31-2009, 07:14 PM
Am I missing something? What is the relevance of this to Tycho?
Now u are Saint BuddyHolly :yawn:

02-01-2009, 03:28 AM
Let sleeping dog's lie ;)

Should we? :p


Now u are Saint BuddyHolly :yawn:

Saint? Something was hot, horny and dirty in the state of Vatican. :aplot:

02-03-2009, 07:35 PM
Czech Church not keen on exhumation of Tycho Brahe

Prague - A very unusual request has recently arrived in Prague.

A team of Danish scientists sent a letter of request to a parish of Prague's Týn Church, asking permission to exhume the body of a famous Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe.

Brahe lived at the court of Czech king and Habsburg emperor Rudolf II in the 16th century and was a very good friend of German astronomer Johannes Kepler.

Tycho Brahe was buried in Prague's Týn Church.

Contract killer?

According to German weekly magazine Der Spiegel, Danish historian Peter Andersen suspects that "the murder plot was hatched at the highest political level. Danish King Christian IV was the mastermind."

The Strasbourg-based historian has recently discovered a diary, in which a distant relative of Tycho Brahe and Swedish Count, Erik Brahe, made a murder confession. Erik Brahe visited Brahe's house a few days before the astronomer's death.

The Danish scientists, headed by archeologist Jens Vellev, believe the brilliant observer of the stars was poisoned with mercury.

Church not so keen

The team of scientists wants to take a sample of Brahe's body to confirm their convictions.

The Czech Catholic Church, however, does not show much enthusiasm about opening the grave, awaiting a statement of experts and preservationists.

At the moment the Danish team's request is being reviewed by Czech Institute of Archeology of the Academy of Sciences and National Heritage Institute.

"We do not see any reason why we should comment it now. As soon as we have the experts' statement, we will do so," spokesperson of Archdiocese of Prague Aleš Pištora said for Aktuálně.cz.

The Church often cooperates with historians and archeologists but the request to open the grave, exhume the body and take a sample of the body is highly exceptional.

"Most of the time they use destructive methods, for example probing tubes and a camera that is sent down to the grave," said Pištora.

Even if preservationists agree with the exhumation, the Danish scientists will have to get an approval of the Archdiocese of Prague. And their approach is far from keen.

"We are not certain about the scientific benefits of the whole thing. With respect to the remains of the body we would run a risk of damaging the grave. Moreover, the temperature would change and so on," said Pištora.

"However, it is such an exceptional situation, there are no guidelines who and how should decide," added Pištora.

Still no decision :(

02-13-2009, 06:37 PM
another interesting article about the issue:

02-14-2009, 07:04 AM
Interesting news.

Would be ironic if Kepler was involved :p

02-14-2009, 10:44 AM
Interesting news.

Would be ironic if Kepler was involved :p

There are more things in heaven and earth, Kolya, than are dreamt in of in your philosophy ;)