Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Louis XVI's Blood... Isn't


Editor's Note: This article was provided by our partner, RealClearScience. The original is here.

In early 2013, a team of scientists reported that blood on a stained handkerchief kept within a two-century-old gourd belonged to legendary French monarch Louis XVI.

The finding fit in nicely with popular history: After Louis XVI's public beheading in 1793, citizens of the newly formed French Republic supposedly rushed forward to dab their handkerchiefs in the quickly pooling blood.

That macabre, chaotic collection of timeless souvenirs could very well have happened, but a new study published in Nature's Scientific Reports disputes the earlier report from 2013. The blood in that gourd almost certainly doesn't belong to Louis XVI.

After sequencing the genome of the DNA contained within that blood, a team of geneticists turned up a great many reasons to doubt its royal authenticity. For starters, an examination of alleles determining height and eye color show that the blood's former owner was only slightly taller than an average European male in the 18th century -- roughly 5'8" -- and had brown eyes. This is incompatible with the widely circulated description of Louis XVI: around 6'3" tall and blue-eyed. Moreover, an examination of the blood's ancestry found it to be most related to individuals from Northern Italy. Considering that Louis XVI's heritage is predominantly rooted to present-day Germany and Poland, it is highly unlikely that the blood belongs to the king.

Laypersons may recall Louis XVI as the final king in the thousand-year French monarchy, and the only French king to ever be executed. He was married to the illustrious Marie Antoinette, who's widely credited with uttering the infamous phrase, "Let them eat cake." In fact, there's no evidence that she ever said that.

Source: Olalde, I. et al. Genomic analysis of the blood attributed to Louis XVI (1754–1793), king of France. Sci. Rep. 4, 4666; DOI:10.1038/srep04666 (2014).

(Images: Davide Pettener, Wikimedia Commons)

Malcolm Gladwell live! | Strangers, Storytelling, and Psychology

Join the legend of non-fiction in conversation with best-selling author and poker pro Maria Konnikova.

Big Think LIVE

Add event to your calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo


Keep reading Show less

Map of the World's Countries Rearranged by Population

China moves to Russia and India takes over Canada. The Swiss get Bangladesh, the Bangladeshi India. And the U.S.? It stays where it is. 

Strange Maps

What if the world were rearranged so that the inhabitants of the country with the largest population would move to the country with the largest area? And the second-largest population would migrate to the second-largest country, and so on?

Keep reading Show less

Can a quantum strategy help bring down the house?

Study finds quantum entanglement could, in principle, give a slight advantage in the game of blackjack.

Photo by Sheri Hooley on Unsplash
Surprising Science
In some versions of the game blackjack, one way to win against the house is for players at the table to work as a team to keep track of and covertly communicate amongst each other the cards they have been dealt.
Keep reading Show less

Virgin Galactic uses space tech to create new supersonic jet

The space tourism company Virgin Galactic teams up with Rolls Royce to create a new Mach 3 supersonic aircraft.

New supersonic aircraft from Virgin Galactic.

Credit: Virgin Galactic
Technology & Innovation
  • Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic has announced a partnership with Rolls Royce.
  • The space tourism company will create a new supersonic jet for super-fast travel on Earth.
  • The aircraft will travel at Mach 3 – three times the speed of sound.
Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast