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Authenticity of French Royal Relics Questioned

Friday, October 11, 2013


LEUVEN, BELGIUM—A new DNA analysis conducted by Jean-Jacques Cassiman of the Catholic University of Leuven and French historian Philippe Delorme calls into question the authenticity of a cloth thought to have been used to soak up blood from the severed head of the last French king, Louis XVI. Earlier this year, geneticist Carles Lalueza-Fox of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona, Spain, matched a small section of DNA from the Y chromosome in the blood to a small amount of Y chromosome taken from the mummified head of Henry IV, a direct ancestor of Louis XVI. However, Cassiman and Delorme say that the section of Y chromosome was so small that the match could be a coincidence. So, they identified three living members of the House of Bourbon and analyzed their Y chromosomes. The “Bourbon Y” did not match the DNA profile obtained from the bloody cloth and mummified head. “We should be cautious with the genealogies claimed by people. These are often less accurate than we may think,” replied Lalueza-Fox.