Two centuries after handkerchiefs were dipped in the blood of the beheaded French king Louis XVI, scientists believe they have proved one such rag kept as a revolutionary souvenir contains his bloodstains.
For years researchers have been trying to verify the claim that an ornately decorated calabash contained a blood sample of the king, who was guillotined in Paris on January 21, 1793.
On that day Parisian Maximilien Bourdaloue joined the crowds as dipped a handkerchief into the blood left at the scene of the decapitation.
He is then believed to have placed the fabric in the gourd, which has been in the hands of an Italian family for more than a century, and had it embellished.
Two years ago, analysis of DNA taken from traces of blood found inside the gourd revealed a likely match for someone of Louis' description, including his blue eyes.
But it was never able to be proved beyond doubt as at the time the team did not have DNA of any royal relation.
But a team of experts from France and Spain, which has published its findings in the journal Forensic Science International, have conducted further research using genetic material from another gruesome artefact - a mummified head believed to belong to Louis' 16th century predecessor, Henri IV.
Their research has uncovered a rare genetic signature shared by two men separated by seven generations, and managed to provide evidence for the authenticity of both sets of remains in the process.
Posted by Jill Fallon at January 15, 2013 3:51 AM | Permalink