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Bloody Rag May Not Have Touched Louis XVI's Severed Head 87

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the brains-delicious-brains dept.
sciencehabit writes "It seemed like the perfect forensic tale. Earlier this year, a geneticist concluded that the remains of a blood-soaked cloth stored for centuries in an 18th century gourd likely belonged to the severed head of the last French king, Louis XVI — a conclusion supported by the fact that the DNA matched that taken from a mummified head belonging to his direct ancestor, King Henry IV. So confident were some people about the findings that a company now offers a blood test for anyone who wants to see if they, too, are descendants of this royal family. But new research released today calls into question the identities of both the blood and the head, arguing that the DNA in those samples does not match the DNA in living relatives of these kings."
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Bloody Rag May Not Have Touched Louis XVI's Severed Head

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  • Obvious solution. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @10:46AM (#45081571)

    Your great great great great great great great grandmommy was a whore.

    • by MightyYar (622222) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @10:51AM (#45081597)

      I know it is a first post, and I know it is an AC using crude language. But his point stands. It is an entirely plausible explanation.

      • by Pirulo (621010)
        Agree to that. You can guaranty DNA match. Nobody can guaranty the whole lineage has been always faithful.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        More than plausible. From the article:

        But Lalueza-Fox and his French historian collaborator Philippe Charlier think that the living relatives all trace back to Philippe I, who was homosexual and thus perhaps unlikely to have actually fathered the next generation.

        • ...who was homosexual and thus perhaps unlikely to have actually fathered the next generation.

          Philipe [wikipedia.org], Duke of Orleans, brother to Louis XIV, the most powerful Duke of the Realm, was flamingly homosexual and didn't even try to hide it. Still, he married twice (to women), and had four children; Marie Louise, later to become the Queen of Spain, Anne Marie, who became the Queen of Sardinia, Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, who would serve as Regent of France, and Élisabeth Charlotte, who would become the Duchess of Lorraine. He was also a very crafty duke, his sexual peccadillos not withstandi

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Garridan (597129)
            GP was quoting TFA, which was quoting a historian who knew more than what you gleaned from Wikipedia in 30 seconds. Check your own ignorance, friend. Nobody's questioning the existence of those children, merely the true identity of the father.
          • by CdBee (742846)
            Also, a word for your personal safety, using phrases like 'check your ignorance' will get you bitchslapped in polite society
          • by Luckyo (1726890)

            Because being a husband to a woman automagically makes you a biological father to her children.

            You were talking about ignorance?

      • Re:Obvious solution. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SJHillman (1966756) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @11:08AM (#45081745)

        What I find interesting is that the AC gave a plausible number of "greats" to match Louis XVI's generation.

        • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @11:19AM (#45081831)
          I'd expect no less from an Anonymous Chronologist.
        • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @12:46PM (#45082635)

          What I find interesting is that the AC gave a plausible number of "greats" to match Louis XVI's generation.

          What I find interesting is the massively huge assumption staring everyone in the face but nobody sees it: The idea that the living relatives might be an invented fairy tale. It wouldn't be the first time a royal lineage met its end and the "secret sauce" was switched and records altered to maintain the appearance of an unbroken line.

          This 'forensic evidence' is based on records that are hundreds of years old; Altering birth and death records was a time-honored tradition back then. It was the Photoshop of the Dark Ages, and churches had just as much reason to perpetuate a fraud as anyone -- their power was often derived from royal mandate. You don't think, at a time when chopping heads off and torturing people was called 'Tuesday', that a little re-inking of a few geneology documents would be beyond the morality of these people, do you?

          • by azcoyote (1101073)
            It's easy to point broad fingers at multiple centuries of people without any real evidence. To accuse the church of a coverup is just wild hearsay because the church makes an easy villain. In the first place, your premise is faulty: the medieval church did not obtain its power from royal mandate. I recommend reading Eamon Duffy's Saints and Sinners for a better understanding of the complexities of the relationship between church and state in the middle ages.
      • by TheCarp (96830)

        the living relatives all trace back to Philippe I, who was homosexual and thus perhaps unlikely to have actually fathered the next generation

        More like great great great great grandaddy was A queen who had an understanding with THE queen.

        I mean its one thing to have someone else sire the children in a hetero marriage, anything short of being on the magnitude of "black kid to white parents" can generally be glossed over. However, if the couple isn't having sex at all, any kid at all is a bit of a dead giveawa

    • by cold fjord (826450) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @11:23AM (#45081859)

      Your great great great great great great great grandmommy was a whore.

      Calling the bloodline of the king into question? You bastards!

    • If there wasn't some random kid swapped in to either replace a dead child or abducted child for political reasons. Which would, of course, have probably been noted by someone, but with royalty, you never know.

      • by barlevg (2111272)
        Honest question, has this sort of thing ever been actually documented outside of Game of Thrones and Klingon history [memory-alpha.org]?
        • I think not documenting it is the point of the entire operation. I'm not saying it's likely in this case (the rag is more likely to be a fraud, or possibly the "Louis" they beheaded being a look-alike). I'm just pointing out a possibility.

        • It's been alleged in the case of Elizabeth I, where the young girl is meant to have died and been replaced by a boy who didn't even resemble her. This is used to explain why the young Elizabeth was a mild-mannered high achiever, whereas the teenaged and older Elizabeth was a vindictive woman with no great evidence of scholarship, and to explain why she went to such lengths not to marry, and why she looks so odd in her portraits.

          Of course, there are more straightforward explanations, such as being imprisoned

    • by Big Hairy Ian (1155547) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @11:37AM (#45081955)
      One word "Bastard!"
    • Although even so there should be at least a small match on the mitochondrial DNA
    • Actually, the researchers didn't find any matching DNA, not from the male side and not from the female side. So your obvious solution is not correct - unless, of course, the living relatives that he contacted are not really relatives.
      • Not necessarily. If King Louis had a son that married a girl who was impregnated by a guard then there is no genetic connection between King Louis and the child, since neither the father nor the mother were related to him.
        By the way this is difficult research. Aside from all the factors that cause someone to have a name without the genetic connection it's only 1/256 th of the identifiable dna that matches.
    • While the core of your post is probably correct, "whore" is not the word I'd choose. Those marriages were often purely political, with no love involved.
      And that is beside the point offered by my sibling posters: one of the lineage was not interested in women. He may have had an understanding with his wife where they both got to do as they wished.
      In both cases "whore" is not a correct term IMHO, although she violated the terms of her marriage.
  • So What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DexterIsADog (2954149) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @10:50AM (#45081585)
    This isn't a story about the science, it's about the provenance of some old rag, and a reminder that the chain of evidence matters.

    The only people who should care are the posers and jerkoffs who like to trade on some accidental genetic connection to a dead king from an obsolete form of government. Isn't France on a republic or two beyond that one by now?
  • Louis XVI faked his death!
    • by dgatwood (11270)

      Louis XVI faked his death!

      That was actually my conclusion as well. How do we know that the person they executed was, in fact, the king and not a royal double? Finding someone who looks enough like the king to fool the peasants in the event of a revolt has been a time-honored tradition among royalty for centuries.

      Maybe it was a long-lost ancestor of Mel Brooks. :-D

  • maybe way back when, a woman thought to have been impregnated by a king instead spread her legs for someone else. been known to happen, in the courts in france

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Louis XVI wasn't the last French king. He had several successors after the fall of Napoleon. Getting that detail wrong makes me question the accuracy of the rest of the article.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    There was Louis XVIII, Charles X, and Louis-Phillipe I.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...that the Russians didn't clone Hitler.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That was the Brazilians.

  • But new research released today calls into question the identities of both the blood and the head, arguing that the DNA in those samples does not match the DNA in living relatives of these kings.

    Maybe that just means the descendants of kings have been screwing around just like kings did.

    Just sayin'.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    His title was not French king but King of France, and he was not the last one.
    His brother Louis XVIII succeeded him with that title.
    His other brother reigned as Charles X, same title and the real last one.
    After him came king Louis-Philippe I, but with 'King of the French' as title.

  • So, if the DNA doesn't match the royalty... Maybe they're not REALLY Royalty?!

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      So, if the DNA doesn't match the royalty... Maybe they're not REALLY Royalty?!

      Nobody is 'really' royalty ... a family conquers and sets themselves up as a dynasty by asserting themselves to be kings and queens.

      To some of us, anybody who professes to be royalty is an in-bred idiot with a sense of entitlement who should STFU and go away.

      To quote Monty Python ... Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from

      • Nobody is 'really' royalty ... a family conquers and sets themselves up as a dynasty by asserting themselves to be kings and queens.

        To some of us, anybody who professes to be royalty is an in-bred idiot with a sense of entitlement who should STFU and go away.

        To quote Monty Python ... Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

        Strange women don't lie in ponds, they hover mysteriously after dwelling beneath the surface in a mystical connection between water and air.

        And then everyone suspends disbelief and doesn't demand they see if they weigh more than a wooden duck.

      • by operagost (62405)
        I'm a watery tart, you insensitive clod!
  • by rossdee (243626) on Wednesday October 09, 2013 @11:59AM (#45082117)

    The French will have to change their flag back to include the Fleur de Lys

    (But it could be in white on a background of white so it will still look like their usual flag

    Viva La France

  • So, never in history was one of the extended royal family members adopted without telling them or writing it down? That many generations is universally intact and spotless? They never accidentally swapped a Duke's (or whatever) baby at the hospital with their amazing pre-computer, pre-bracelet printing records keeping? Testing people too far apart in generations shouldn't even be considered. Now the hand vs rag one, that I can believe and respect because they're a lot closer in time and more direct so I
    • by mjr167 (2477430)
      And the queen never fucked a servant and didn't tell the king...
    • It's interesting when you get down to it and consider it using Occam's Razor.

      1. A very old bloody gourd with very old blood, has a DNA match to a very old mummified head thought to be person Y
      2. A modern person claiming to be related to person Y has DNA which does NOT match the blood in the gourd or the mummified head.

      Which seems more likely:

      A: The random chance that some 200+ yr old piece of bloody cloth just happens to match the DNA of a very specific 200+ yr old mummified head. But actual origins of

  • After the Revolution and Bonaparte, the monarchy was restored

    Louis XVIII (1815-1824)
    Charles X (1824-1830)
    Louis Philippe (1830-1848) (deposed)

    Napoleon III (1848-1870) was President then Emperor IIRC

  • This gives me an excuse to trot out a favorite lyric by Alan Sherman:

    If you had been a nicer king,
    We wouldn't do a thing,
    But you were bad, you must admit.
    We're gonna take you and the Queen
    Down to the guillotine,
    And shorten you a little bit.

    • by fredrated (639554)

      you went the wrong way old king louie
      so we must put you on the shelf
      that's why the people are revolting
      'cause louie you're pretty revolting yourself!

  • This evidence is compelling, but let's not...

    [sunglasses]

    Get ahead of ourselves.

    [air boat, YAHHHHHHHHHHHH!]

  • You know, the one where the body spontaneously vaporized in a flash of disbelief ...

  • "Lalueza-Fox was able to isolate a small amount of Y chromosome from the inner part of the head, which is transmitted from male to male each generation."

Truly simple systems... require infinite testing. -- Norman Augustine

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