Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Louis XVI's blood in hollowed-out gourd

It's strange to imagine that a man who so mightily ruled France might be reduced to the blotches on a handkerchief, dipped in his blood post-guillotining, and then stowed in a gourd kept by an Italian family for over 200 years--until it underwent DNA testing recently to be confirmed as his blood.

Here's the link to the BBC news article.

Accounts of the French Revolution reveal an appallingly blood-thirsty populace. Wow, just typing that made me go to the kitchen to pour a glass of wine. I'm not kidding.

But it's white wine, not red.

The squash was inscribed, "On January 21, Maximilien Bourdaloue dipped his handkerchief in the blood of Louis XVI after his decapitation."

I can't help but imagine the crush of people at the scaffold. How and why did Bourdaloue get close enough to dip his handkerchief? And what do you do afterwards: fold it up and put it in your pocket, or carry it aloft all day long as you sing revolutionary songs, waving it like a flag as its drops fly? Shudder.

I also looked at a Telegraph article which added a little more information, such that the handkerchief itself has long since decomposed and it was the bloodstained interior of the squash that was tested. The bloodstains were a close enough match to the DNA of what is believed to be the mummified head of Louis IV, an ancestor of the Sixteenth's, to call it conclusive.


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1 comment:

Susan Spann said...

What a fascinating piece of history! People seem to love souvenirs from executions, though like you I think it's creepy to say the least!