Category Archive 'Louis XVI'

14 Oct 2010

Presumptive DNA of Louis XVI Identified

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A new paper in Forensic Science International: Genetics by Carles Lalueza-Fox, Elena Gigli, Carla Bini, Francesc Calafella, Donata Luiselli, Susi Pelotti, and Davide Pettener details the results of DNA analysis of the unfortunate King Louis XVI of France executed by the Revolutionary convention 21 January 1793.

Wikipedia notes: “It is agreed that while Louis’s blood dripped to the ground many members of the crowd ran forward to dip their handkerchiefs in it.”


A text on a pyrographically decorated gourd dated to 1793 explains that it contains a handkerchief dipped with the blood of Louis XVI, king of France, after his execution. Biochemical analyses confirmed that the material contained within the gourd was blood. The mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) hypervariable region 1 (HVR1) and 2 (HVR2), the Y-chromosome STR profile, some autosomal STR markers and a SNP in HERC2 gene associated to blue eyes, were retrieved, and some results independently replicated in two different laboratories. The uncommon mtDNA sequence retrieved can be attributed to a N1b haplotype, while the novel Y-chromosome haplotype belongs to haplogroup G2a. The HERC2 gene showed that the subject analyzed was a heterozygote, which is compatible with a blue-eyed person, as king Louis XVI was. To confirm the identity of the subject, an analysis of the dried heart of his son, Louis XVII, could be undertaken.

The mitochondrial dna haplogroup N1b is a decidedly unusual. Louis XVI’s mother was Princess Maria Josepha of Saxony, the daughter of Maria Josepha of Austria, granddaughter of Wilhelmine Amalia of Brunswick-Lüneburg, ggd of Benedicta Henrietta of the Palatinate, gggd of Anne Gonzaga, ggggd of Catherine of Mayenne, a member of the House of Guise, a junior branch of the royal House of Lorraine.

mtDNA Haplogroup N

What little discussion of haplogroup N1b ( named for imaginary female ancestress “Nana” by “Seven Daughter of Eve” author Bryan Sykes) exists on the Internet is here.

His patrilineal Ydna haplogroup G2 is also Pan-Eurasian and also rather unusual. The kings of France ultimately descend in the male line from Robert the Strong.

Ydna Haplogroup G

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