Blood proven to be that of executed French king
Tissue analysis reveals that bloody cloth contained sample of executed Louis XVI
Louis XVI of revolutionary France was known for his extravagance - a whole line of splendiferous décor and furniture bears his name. His rotten-to-the-core regime came to a bloody end with his head being separated from his neck by that trust new-fangled invention, the Guillotine. Now, scientists have authenticated that a rag believed to have been dipped in his blood is the genuine article.
Louis XVI lost his head on January 21, 1793, the first victim of the "Reign of Terror" that followed France's revolutionary uprising. What was to then become a hot trend of its day, spectators dipped their handkerchiefs in the gore of the decapitated victim as a morbid keepsake - and a reminder that the person was most sincerely dead.
"On January 21, Maximilien Bourdaloue dipped his handkerchief in the blood of Louis XVI after his decapitation," read a note on a calabash, which is a form of squash that is dried and used as a bottle.
The artifact has been owned by an Italian family for more than a century. Its authenticity was just proven recently.
In 2010 DNA samples taken from the rag showed a good match between someone of Louis' description, including his blue eyes.
Scientists were unable to prove the blood's authenticity as there was no DNA from any of his relatives, until they examined the supposed head of 16th century King Henri IV which had been stolen from the royal chapel at Saint Denis near Paris by revolutionaries.
Henri IV, was one of France's most popular monarchs who was able briefly to reconcile the country's Protestant and Catholic communities until he was assassinated by a Catholic fanatic in 1610 at the age of 57.
The head changed hands several times and was sold at auction and kept in private collections.
In 2010 Henri's DNA was tested and, as in Louis's case, scientists said they believed it was authentic due to the genetic material was consistent with descriptions of the 16th century king.
Conducted by French and Italian experts, both sets of remains were authenticated after the team found a rare genetic signature shared by the two men, despite being separated by seven generations.
"This study shows that [the remains] share a genetic heritage passed on through the paternal line," forensic pathologist Philippe Charlier says. "They have a direct link to one another through their fathers. One could say that there is absolutely no doubt any more."
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
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