The Lost King of France: How DNA Solved the Mystery of the Murdered Son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette
More than a little disturbing, considering that I have two nephews just the age that Louis-Charles was when he was in the Temple. Stomach-turning might be a better word. A sacrifice to the machinations of the various factions of the French Revolution (the republicans, the royalists and everyone in between), this poor ten-year-old, after more than eight months in solitary confinement in a filthy room, died of his mistreatment and neglect. At the autopsy of the body, the presiding doctor quietly wrapped Louis-Charles' heart in his handkerchief and took it away. The heart was preserved in alcohol and was stored, stolen, returned, neglected, claimed, displayed, looted and finally placed in the Basilica at Saint-Denis, the traditional resting place of the Kings of France. The body was dumped in a pauper's grave at Saint-Madeleine cemetery. More than one person claimed to have moved the body after the guard had left. Louis- Charles resting place has never been found and, in addition to the fact that no one saw him during his solitary confinement, there were masses of rumours that it had not really been Louis-Charles who had died in the Temple, but a substitute. Even the woman who had cared for him before his final confinement insisted that he had been smuggled out of the Temple in a laundry basket. Like with the Romanovs, history has been filled with those who claimed his identity. The descendants of Karl Wilhelm Naundorff still claim their place in the Bourbon Dynasty. In 2000, an examination of the stolen heart at Saint-Denis produced a mitochondrial DNA match with the Hapsburg line (Marie-Antoinette's family). Though carefully couched in the true/false of scientific proof, they announced that, taken with the historical record, it is certain that Louis-Charles of France died in the Temple.