Marie Antoinette - DNA EVIDENCE and LOUIS XVII

According to French official records, the imprisoned child, Louis-Charles, died at the age of 10 on June 8, 1795. Reportedly, the body of Louis XVII was initially buried at the Abbey at Saint-Pont and was later interred at the Basilica of St. Denis near Paris. Historians, however, tell us that the body of Louis-Charles was never found.  In 2004, the mummified heart of the Dauphin—identified via DNA testing—was sealed into the wall of the royal family burial crypt at St. Denis. Photo online via the French Ministry of Culture (and via Wikimedia Commons). License:  CC BY-SA 3.0


Years passed. The dauphin's sister was finally released from prison and lived a long, albeit sad, childless life. Men claiming to be her brother continuously tried to get in touch with her. All claiming to be Louis XVII, they would send her letters, begging for an audience.

She would see none of them.

There were even trials, held in France, involving family members of those who had claimed to be the “lost dauphin.” The last of such trials took place the same year Crick and Watson discovered the double helix model—DNA.

Recently, the science of DNA has allowed researchers to identify mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from tiny samples. This type of study allows scientists to determine if there is a relationship between the tested material and a person’s mother—but not the father.

The heart which Dr. Pelletan had saved was, by the 21st century, as hard as stone. After carefully chipping away enough material to study, some of the world's leading DNA specialists tried to determine whose heart had been in Pelletan’s container.

A lock of Marie Antoinette's hair still existed. Comparing the genetic material from both the heart and the hair, the examining scientists were relatively certain the heart was that of the dauphin. All of the claimants to the throne had been pretenders.

In June of 2004, Louis-Charles received a royal burial when his heart was placed into the crypt—at Saint-Denis —where his parents are buried. The rest of his body was never found.

Many people have written histories, and stories, of the French Revolution and the royal family who died as France transformed itself from a monarchy into a republic. Turbulent times often give rise to tales—some true, some fanciful. Perhaps Charles Dickens put it best when he began his Tale of Two Cities:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

And so it continues today.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 01, 2006

Updated Last Revision: Jul 08, 2019

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"DNA EVIDENCE and LOUIS XVII" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 01, 2006. May 30, 2020.
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