The Scientist Who Ate A King’s Heart

“[Buckland] was incited more by a craving for notoriety, which sometimes made him act like a buffoon, than by a love of science.” —Charles Darwin

In A Nutshell

William Buckland was a respected English geologist and palaeontologist, who just so happened to have a strange and slightly disgusting hobby. It was his dream to eat one of everything in existence . . . including the heart of a former French king.

The Whole Bushel

These days, William Buckland is mostly remembered for his contributions to theology, geology and for being famously declared a “buffoon” by Charles Darwin. However, Buckland has a far more disgusting claim to fame than that: At some point during his lifetime, he became obsessed with the idea of eating everything.

Yeah—everything. Among accounts of his bizarre dining habits, we have people describing his devotion to mice on toast, to roasted hedgehog, to potted ostrich, to porpoises, puppies, alligators and panthers . . . anything, in fact, that wasn’t the common garden mole (which Buckland thought would be disgusting). He even once happily ingested bat urine, but none of this compares to his “greatest” achievement. According to several sources, Buckland once ate the heart of a French King.

The story goes that he was visiting Lord Harcourt, when Harcourt produced a small, shrivelled item believed to be the preserved heart of Louis XIV. Depending on what source you read, Buckland either snatched the heart and gobbled it down, or was asked to taste it and “accidentally” swallowed it. Supposedly, he was heard to remark “I have eaten many strange things, but have never eaten the heart of a king before,” before wolfing it down. Lord Harcourt’s response to the his prized possession has sadly been lost to history.

Show Me The Proof

LA Times: Forklore — Dining on alligators, mice, and the occasional king
The Guardian: The man who ate everything

  • Rijul Ballal

    So he ate his heart out?

  • Exiled Phoenix

    I would’ve killed the S.O.B. and cut him open to retrieve the heart. Back then I doubt it would’ve been a big deal.

    • Paul P

      Victorian England? Probably be executed.

      • Exiled Phoenix

        Not if you were a Lord rich enough to own the heart of King Louis XIV.

        • Errkism

          I’d have to agree with you. Even today people in power get away with murder. Back then I bet it was even easier.

          • Exiled Phoenix

            No media surrounding the case lol.

  • 63Jax

    …the heart is not red, is almost yellow due to fat surrounding it!

  • Chester

    Dried up French Kings heart is definitely a step above English food thats for sure.

  • Happy Camper

    That’s awesome. I want to eat porpoise and panther.

    • Anmol Chandi

      u r the next william buckland then

      • Happy Camper

        A lofty aspiration if there ever was one