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Published:January 2nd, 2013 08:09 EST
Louis XVI`s Bloody Handkerchief, Stashed in a Calabash for 217 Years, Is Authentic!

Louis XVI`s Bloody Handkerchief, Stashed in a Calabash for 217 Years, Is Authentic!

By John G. Kays

"I die innocent of all the crimes laid to my charge; I pardon those who have occasioned my death; and I pray to God that the blood you are going to shed may never be visited on France." Louis XVI`s last words before climbing the scaffold to the guillotine (January 21, 1793).

A calabash is a form of squash that was used as a bottle; in this case, it contained an aged handkerchief thought to have been dipped in the blood of Louis XVI, who met his death at the hands of libertarians, terminating the monarchy during the French Revolution. The BBC and AFP have reported the antiquated calabash containing the blood of the last French King is absolutely authentic! 

Maximiien Bourdaloue is the original owner of the gourd; Max must have stood to the side of the scaffold, as the sheen of the dull guillotine came crashing down. Max had the calabash ornately decorated, knowing full and well this was an occasion for monumental change in the history of France, with the end of the monarchy and a new beginning of democracy by the people. Max thought to preserve the moment with an identifying inscription on his gourd.

"On January 21, Maximilien Bourdaloue dipped his handkerchief in the blood of Louis XVI after his decapitation." The gory relic somehow was kept around, and has been in the private hands of an Italian family for the past century. I count 217 years since the timely souvenir, that freezes the very instance of the Ancien Regime`s demise, and will require some proper provenance. Nonetheless, the scientific authentication is currently in good order, through use of DNA.

Louis` DNA has been checked against DNA obtained from the mummified skull of his predecessor, Henri IV (1553-1610). Tests have been conducted on this skull in 2010, which was probably rescued by a wise individual (from the royal chapel at Saint-Denis) around the same time that Louis and Marie Antoinette were forced to leave the royal palace, stripped of their riches, humiliated and marched back to Paris. Now they were ordinary citizens, no longer King and Queen.

The verification of Henri IV`s skull started with an observed physical connection, using portraits of the important monarch, which included a scar from an early assassination attempt, as well as a known pierced ear. The Daily Mail has a photo of the skull side by side with an official royal oil painting, that verifies (to me) the skull is that of the assassinated French monarch, who did so much to quell the religious wars between the Huguenots and the Catholics (although, this ultimately led his death by the knife of a fanatical Catholic).  

"It is about 250 times more likely that the (owners of the) head and the blood are paternally related, than unrelated," says Carlos Lalueza Fox of the Institut de Biologia Evolutiva in Barlelona. The DNA evidence combined with the physical evidence conclusively link (once and for all) the two gossamer objects of royally-connected ephemera. 

A bit of cursory research (on my part) this morning brought me to another cosmic link; Louis made some attempt during his reign to reinforce religious tolerance, especially towards the Protestants, who were in the minority. While not willing to forego his God-given authority to rule his people, Louis did support efforts to make the American Revolution a reality. So isn`t it ironic that he meets his maker after this zeal of democratic revolution is shipped across The Big Pond?