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Eur J Hum Genet. 2001 Mar;9(3):185-90.

Mitochondrial DNA analysis of the putative heart of Louis XVII, son of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette.

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  • 1Center for Human Genetics, University of Leuven, Belgium. Els.Jehaes@med.kuleuven.ac.be

Abstract

According to official historiography, the 10-year-old Louis XVII died in the Temple of Paris on June 8, 1795. However, public rumour spread the theory that Louis XVII escaped and that his descendants would be alive today. One such putative 'Louis XVII' was Carl Wilhelm Naundorff, who died in 1845 in Delft (the Netherlands). Comparative mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis gave evidence that his remains could not be identified as those of Louis XVII. In the present study, mtDNA analysis was performed on the heart of the young boy who died in the prison of Paris in 1795. In order to obtain the strongest evidence possible, two laboratories independently analysed the heart. The results showed that the consensus mtDNA sequence of the heart was identical to that of the maternal relatives of Louis XVII.

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