New DNA tests say head isn`t French King Henri IV

Last Updated: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 18:59

London: Three years ago, French researchers declared that a centuries-old mummified head was that of the beloved King Henri IV. But now a new study says, "Non!"

The original conclusion was based largely on facial reconstruction techniques and signs the skull had injuries similar to those suffered by the monarch. The new study looked at DNA instead.

It found a genetic mismatch between the head and three living male relatives of the 17th-century French king. The researchers concluded the head didn`t come from anybody in the royal lineage.

Henri IV was one of France`s best-loved kings, credited with bringing religious peace to the country and building Parisian landmarks like the Pont Neuf bridge during his reign from 1589 to 1610. He was the first of the Bourbon monarchs and grandfather of the Sun King Louis XIV.

It`s "impossible" that the head belongs to Henri IV, said Jean-Jacques Cassiman, an emeritus professor at the University of Leuven, one of the authors of the new study. The research was published online today in the European Journal of Human Genetics.

The same study also found a blood sample previously attributed to King Louis XVI, one of Henri`s descendants, lacked any royal ties. Louis XVI died on the guillotine during the French Revolution and many spectators reportedly soaked their handkerchiefs in the king`s blood. But Cassiman and colleagues found the lingering traces of powdered blood on the handkerchief they tested did not match the Bourbon family DNA.

Cassiman said he wasn`t sure who the head or the blood sample belonged to. The DNA from both failed to match samples from other royal families on record.


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