Louis XVI .: No blood stains from the beheaded king?

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Louis XVI .: No blood stains from the beheaded king?

Bloodstained handkerchief dating back to 1793 is probably not a witness of the King's execution

Is it the blood of Louis XVI.? A handkerchief from the time of the French Revolution should have bloodstains from the last Bourbon king. New genetic studies now speak however against it. Because the DNA from the spots is owned by a man who was much smaller than Louis XVI. and also had brown eyes. The Bourbon King was against the blue-eyed giant. It is therefore highly unlikely that the blood stains are actually from him, according to the researchers in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Louis XVI .: No blood stains from the beheaded king?


Louis XVI: Royal giant with blue eyes

© historically

Louis XVI. was beheaded on 21 January 1793 after he had been deposed by the representatives of the French Revolution until then declared a traitor. So far, so familiar. However, in 2010 made an unusual discovery sensation: researchers had discovered an ornate, dried gourd, which served as a receptacle for a stained handkerchief. This should, it said an inscription on the container, the blood of Louis XVI. included. A witness of the execution, Maximilien Bouradoue is said to have bathed and kept in the blood of the beheaded king handkerchief.

Conflicting results

That same year, researchers succeeded in extracting genetic fragments of the Y chromosome from the spot. These DNA sequences compared with the Y chromosome of another historic discovery:. The mummified remains of the French king Henri IV This lived seven generations before Louis XVI and was related in direct line with this.

The result: With the exception of a gene marker, the DNA profile of body and bloodstain fit together well. The language that the blood could actually come on the handkerchief of the Bourbon king beheaded. A short time later, however, another group of researchers came to exactly the opposite conclusion. They had compared the Y-chromosome DNA of the blood spot with the three living today Bourbons - and found no match.

Louis XVI .: No blood stains from the beheaded king?


In this vessel from an ornate, dried pumpkin bloodstained handkerchief was found.

© Davide Pettener

Gene betrayed origin

To shed more light on these conflicting results, attracted Iñigo Olalde from the University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona and his colleagues for the first time not only the Y chromosome approach: you first sequenced the entire genome contained in the bloodstain. Using these DNA sequences they first checked the origin of the blood carrier. The ancestors of Louis XVI. were very mixed origin, as they report. Eight of his 16 Urur-grandparents came from Germany, four from Poland, one from Savoy and one from France.

Should it be the blood of the king, hence his DNA would have the typical for these peoples DNA characteristics. But the comparison with genetic patterns of today's populations showed instead the biggest similarities with persons northern Italian descent. "That makes it unlikely, though not impossible, that the blood of the King of France is," be stated Olalde and colleagues.

Wrong size and eye color

But still there is any difficulty: the appearance of the "blood donor". For the next step of their analysis, the researchers examined for genes that affect eye color and height. According to historical records Louis XVI should. have been unusually large. This and the length of his coronation mantle suggest that it was from 1.85 to 1.90 meters tall, according to the scientists. In the contemporary portraits of the Bourbon is also always represented with blue eyes.

The genetic analysis of Olalde and his colleagues, however, showed that the blood of more than 89 percent must come likelihood of a person with brown eyes you an only average height. "While we can not rule out completely that the blood perhaps belongs in the pumpkin container Louis XVI.," The researchers emphasize. But their genetic data rather spoke against the fact that this is a blood test of the beheaded king Bourbon.

To exclude this final, we must now make an even more accurate sequencing of the isolated from the blood residues genome and then compare them with completely sequenced genomes of living today Bourbons. (Scientific Reports, 2014; doi: 10.1038 / srep04666 )

(Nature Group, 04/25/2014 - NPO)

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