Danish expert: Analysis of Tycho Brahe’s remains could provide interesting clues to Denmark’s history

Tycho Brahe

Czech authorities recently granted permission to experts from Denmark’s Aarhus University to explore the grave of astronomer Tycho Brahe. The famous Danish-born scholar died in Prague in 1601 under suspicious circumstances. Peter Andersen, who has a theory linking Danish king Christian to the astronomer’s death, says research should be done in Denmark as well, and that the consequences could be far reaching.

The mystery surrounding the death of Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe may finally be resolved. In November, a team of experts from Aarhus University in Denmark will explore Brahe’s grave in Prague’s Týn Church, and analyze his remains. Zdeněk Dragoun is an archaeologist at the National Heritage Institute.

Tycho Brahe’s grave in Prague’s Týn Church
“The goal of the project is to examine Tycho Brahe’s remains, and to extract some samples. Then, laboratory tests should throw more light on the issue that has recently been discussed – the presence of arsenic, and so on. The main aim is to find out more about Brahe’s death.”

Strasbourg-based professor Peter Andersen believes Brahe was murdered in Prague at the behest of Danish King Christian IV. He says the research should be extended to Denmark in order to compare the DNA samples of the astronomer and the king.

Christian IV
“They will now have to explain who exactly will be involved in the project – only Danes or Czech experts. Also, will they take DNA samples? And are they willing to make steps to eventually open graves in Denmark as well? Because everything is related, and you cannot solve the enigma only in Prague.”

Mr Andersen says the analysis might confirm his suspicion that Tycho Brahe was in fact the king’s father. This would explain why the conflict between the two men became so personal. If that turns out to be the case, the consequences would be serious.

“That would mean that the Danish kings of 300 hundred years were bastards. Not the present queen though – she is not a descendant of Christian IV, but – unfortunately for her perhaps – she is related to the king’s uncle, who came to Prague to discuss the murder with Emperor Rudolf. I think that all of us might have a criminal among our ancestors, but her great great grandfather is my main suspect in Denmark.”

Tycho Brahe
There are many other theories about what happened to Tycho Brahe in Prague. A popular legend has it that his bladder burst during a dinner party because he was too polite to leave the table in the presence of Emperor Rudolf. Mr Andersen says this theory spread after it was mentioned in the 1990 novel Immorality by the Czech-born author, Milan Kundera.

“I spoke with Milan Kundera, he personally called me up last year, I was very flattered. He said he didn’t know himself where he had read it; he said everybody says that in Prague. I’ve tried to find the first written mention of the burst bladder, and it was in fact in a 19th century medical textbook by an Austrian doctor. He worked in Prague for some time, and he needed an example of a burst bladder, but he couldn’t find any other in history – only Tycho.”