Scientists Find Louis XVI's Blood in Ancient Gourd

Researchers compare DNA to that of his ancestor, King Henri IV

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 1, 2013 5:32 PM CST

(Newser) – When King Louis XVI was beheaded after the French Revolution in 1793, many were said to have dipped handkerchiefs and other garments in his blood—and now scientists have determined that one such relic still exists. Maximilien Bourdaloue placed his bloodstained handkerchief inside a calabash, and though the cloth decomposed long ago, the gourd that held it still has bloodstains. It also included an inscription describing the souvenir of the decapitation, the Telegraph reports.

In order to determine that the blood was really the king's, scientists compared a DNA sample taken from it to another DNA sample from the mummified head of King Henri IV, a direct ancestor of Louis XVI. Henri possessed a rare chromosome that was also contained in the DNA sample from the gourd; that and other matches led scientists to conclude that the blood from the gourd almost certainly belonged to Louis XVI.

Louis XVI.
Louis XVI.   (Wikimedia Commons)
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