DNA Test of Henri IV Skull

DNA testing has confirmed that a head, mummified for centuries, is NOT that of French King Henri IV.
Jared Rosenthal
Published on

DNA testing has confirmed that a head, mummified for centuries, is NOT that of French King Henri IV. Aha! You are NOT the father of our country!

Three years ago, researchers declared the head was that of the beloved French king. But that test relied solely on facial reconstruction and did not take into account DNA testing. The new study looked solely at DNA.

It looked at DNA taken from the mummified head and compared it with DNA from confirmed living male relatives of Henri IV. It found a genetic mismatch, proving the head could not be the remains of Henri.

Henri built Parisian landmarks like the Pont Neuf bridge and was the grandfather of King Louis XIV. He’s known in France as a king who brought peace and prosperity to the country from 1589-1610.

Strangely, the study also tested a sample of blood purportedly belonging to King Louis XVI. Louis XVI was beheaded on the guillotine and it’s said many spectators soaked handkerchiefs in his blood. But the blood sample tested from one of those handkerchiefs did not share familial DNA with the Bourbon line of French kings.

Researchers say they don’t know who the head or the blood sample belong to, but they are definitely not of the royal line. It’s possible that Henri IV was not beheaded as previously thought, but buried instead. During the French Revolution, the tombs that may have held his body were dug up. Some accounts claim Henri’s head was stolen then, but other researchers say it’s impossible to verify.

And this is where the plot thickens…and starts spiraling out of control. Researchers say not only is it impossible to track what happened, it’s still entirely possible that the head is that of Henri IV because the paternity of French kings was already so difficult to determine. There’s no guarantee that Henri IV, though he is thought of as a king of the Bourbon line, was actually fathered by a Bourbon.

DNA tests give conclusive results, but like many of life’s certainties, they often open up a whole new set of questions.

WRITTEN BY

Jared is the Founder of Health Street, the creator of the Who's Your Daddy DNA truck, and the host of VH1's Swab Stories.

WRITTEN BY

Jared is the Founder of Health Street, the creator of the Who's Your Daddy DNA truck, and the host of VH1's Swab Stories.

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DNA Testing

Read Health Street's dramatic and informative DNA testing stories.