A beast, that wants discourse of reason
Archeologists are waiting for permission to open the tomb in the Tyn Cathedral, in Prague. Brahe was the first astronomer to describe a supernova and is famous for his incredibly accurate measurements of celestial movements in the pre-telescope era and for having catalogued more than 1,000 new stars. He is also famous for wearing a prosthetic nose of gold and silver after losing his own at the age of 20 in a rapier duel resulting from a row over a mathematical formula.
A new theory by Danish scholars claims that Brahe was poisoned with mercury on the orders of Christian IV, the King of Denmark, because the astronomer had an affair with his mother. It is even suggested that Shakespeare used the alleged liaison as an inspiration for Hamlet,
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king
Brahe was celebrated across Europe and served as personal astrologer of King Friedrich II of Denmark. He was held in such regard that more than 5 per cent of Denmark's gross national product went into his projects. When the King died and his son Christian IV ascended the throne, Brahe fell from grace and had to flee the country. In 1597 he settled in Prague, where he became the court astrologert of Emperor Rudolph II of Habsburg, but died soon after, aged 57. According to an account by his assistant Brahe died because he was too polite to leave the table at a banquet until his bladder “became twisted”.
A little more than kin, and less than kind.
Peter Andersen, a Danish scholar at the University of Strasbourg, believes that Brahe was poisoned by his cousin Count Eric Brahe, a Swedish diplomat in the service of the Danish Crown. Last year Professor Andersen found the diary of the alleged murderer, in which he records many meetings with Hans, the brother of Christian IV, on whose orders he is believed to have gone to Prague to murder his cousin.
Professor Andersen believes that his cousin slipped mercury into Brahe's drink. Tests on his hair showed mercury levels one hundred times above normal as a result of ingesting a large quantity of the liquid metal about 13 hours before his death, coinciding with the visit from his cousin.