The Telegraph reports that “It’s “impossible” that the head belongs to Henri IV, said Jean-Jacques Cassiman, an emeritus professor at the University of Leuven, one of the authors of the new study. The research was published online Wednesday in the European Journal of Human Genetics.”
The same study also found a blood sample previously believed to belong to King Louis XVI, one of Henri’s descendants, lacked any royal blood ties. Louis XVI died on the guillotine during the French Revolution and many spectators reportedly soaked their handkerchiefs in the king’s blood.
I quote from the article: ” DNA samples from three living males of the House of Bourbon [were used] to validate the since then controversial identification of these remains.
The three living relatives revealed the Bourbon’s Y-chromosomal variant on a high phylogenetic resolution for several members of the lineage between Henry IV and Louis XVI.
This ‘true’ Bourbon’s variant is different from the published Y-STR profiles of the blood as well as of the head. The earlier identifications of these samples can therefore not be validated.
Moreover, matrilineal genealogical data revealed that the published mtDNA sequence of the head was also different from the one of a series of relatives.”
The head was believed to be from King Henry IV because a facial reconstruction showed signs of injuries to the skull similar to those suffered by the monarch. The new study looked at DNA instead.
The House of Bourbon seems to have a troubled lineage. One thing we do know: Louis XVI’s son with Marie Antionette, the Dauphin Louis-Charles, was a decendant from the House of Habsburg. This was established by DNA as described here in this post.
After Louis-Charles, the orphan in the Temple Tower, whose arrival there was documented, died, an extensive and meticulous autopsy was carried out on his badly neglected and abused body.
During the autopsy, Dr Phillippe-Jean Pellatan gave in to his urge to steal the heart of the boy. Pellatan was not an ardent royalist, but it was tradition that the hearts of all Kings were embalmed and placed into the crypt in Saint-Denis. Possibly sensing that the little boy truly was the rightful King and deserved to be treated with dignity, Palletan smuggled the heart out of the Tower and placed in an urn filled with distilled wine alcohol as preservative.
Ernst Brinkmann of Münster University and again Belgian genetics professor Jean-Jacques Cassiman of University of Leuven, conducted mitochondrial DNA tests in 2000 using samples from Marie-Antoinette, her sisters Maria Johanna Gabriela and Maria Josepha, their mother, Maria Theresa, and two living direct descendants in strict maternal line of Maria Theresa, Queen Anne of Romania and her brother, Prince André de Bourbon Parme. The tests proved that the heart was that of Louis-Charles. It was buried in the Basilica on June 8, 2004.
The stolen heart did have the same unique trace of mitochondrial DNA as the entire maternal line of the Habsburg Family. But what about the rest of the lineage? One big historical mystery and a real treat for scientists and historians!