While my first love is American history, there are times when world history can certainly woo me. I found this story today had visions of Monarch Park instead of Jurassic Park where the DNA of former kings are used to recreate them.
French King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette were beheaded with a guillotine more than two centuries ago. That is something I remembered from history classes in school. However, I had never heard that someone sopped up the king’s blood with a handkerchief and stored it in a gourd.
A wealthy Italian family owns the gourd, which has pictures of people from the French Revolution emblazoned on it. Text on the gourd reads: “On January 21, Maximilien Bourdaloue dipped his handkerchief in the blood of Louis XVI after his decapitation.” Inside the gourd is dried blood, but no handkerchief.
Scientists tested the blood against a DNA sample from the mummified head of French King Henry IV, an ancestor of King Louis (who also met an untimely end in 1610) and confirmed that both were from French royals. The findings were published in Forensic Science International on Dec. 30.
The test also allowed the scientists to confirm that, indeed, the head was King Henry’s. There had been some doubt about that because the DNA had been too contaminated for a definite identification.
Read more about the story here.