Friday, October 15, 2010

The Blood of Louis XVI

Preserved in a gourd.
The gourd, presently valued at about 500,000 euro ($700,000), is emblazoned with key figures of the French Revolution and bears an inscription that reads, as translated from French into English by the researchers, “Maximilien Bourdaloue on January 21st, dipped his handkerchief in the blood of the king after his beheading.”

There was no handkerchief in the gourd when the scientific team received it, but there was plenty of dried blood inside to scrape out five small samples. Two laboratories performed three kinds of DNA analysis: One probed the Y chromosome (inherited from the father), another scrutinized the HERC2 gene (associated with blue eyes) and the last examined the DNA in mitochondria (the powerhouses of cells, which are inherited from the mother).

The tests showed the blood belonged to a blue-eyed man with a rare genetic makeup and not to an animal, nor to anyone in the laboratories, nor the gourd-owning family nor or any one of tens of thousands of people in genetic databases. Pettener added that the blood is also “quite old,” making a forgery more unlikely.
More HERE.

Here is a quote from the novel Trianon:
Then cries of “Long live the Republic!” were heard. People rushed forward, dipping handkerchiefs into the blood of Louis XVI. The Abbé, dazed, did not know how he climbed off the scaffold. He could only notice that some of the blood from the severed head had splashed upon his clothes. Meanwhile, Sanson was selling locks of the King’s hair, pieces of his jacket, his buttons, his hat. Someone began to play the Marseillaise, and people joined hands, dancing and cavorting around the guillotine, “like the prophets of Baal,” thought the Abbé. A cold mist had descended upon Paris at the moment of the King’s death, but above, and beyond it, was the sun. ~from Trianon by Elena Maria Vidal


tubbs said...

More on Sanson! (please?) I seem to remember reading that he held his post from pre- revolution thru the Empire and into the restoration. I may be wrong.

cristians. said...

Incredible work you did here! Please, never stop. I added a link to you on my blog. I am just reading Simone Bertière's excellent book: 'Marie-Antoinette l'insoumise'. Great job and a huge patience you must have!

May said...

The poor King!

Isn't it true that his daughter kept his bloodstained shirt? What happened to that later on?

elena maria vidal said...

Tubbs, here is a post I did on Sanson awhile back.

Thank you, Cristian. I will add your blog as well.

Yes, M., MTC kept it. I am not certain where it is now.

May said...

It's amazing that MTC was able to get hold of such a thing. I am surprised that it had not been long since destroyed. (I am also surprised that the King's will and the Queen's last letter managed to survive).

The gourd itself seems rather grotesque to me, would you agree?

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, quite grotesque. It seems to have been more of a morbid souvenir than a relic, at least from the point of view of the people who decorated the gourd.