A gourd belonging to a wealthy Italian family contains the dried blood of Marie Antoinette’s husband, the beheaded 18th century monarch King Louis XVI, according to livescience.com.
Scientists confirmed on Dec. 30 that the gourd contains the blood of the late French royal, lending credence to longstanding folklore that the king’s blood was wiped off the guillotine in 1793 with a handkerchief that was later stashed in a gourd.
Scientists confirmed the blood’s owner by matching it to DNA from the mummified remains of King Henry IV — a direct ancestor of Louis XVI.
The gourd is decorated with likenesses of French Revolution heroes.
Louis XVI was born in 1754 and took the throne in 1774 upon the death of his grandfather, Louis XV.
Considered a weak, ineffective leader with limited political knowledge, Louis XVI was famously obsessed with making locks. He spent much of his time and effort either lock-making or hunting on the royal grounds, according to his personal diaries.
Fifteen-year old Louis XVI married 14-year old Austrian archduchess Marie Antoinette, his distant cousin, in 1770. Antoinette spent a good deal of time during their marriage with Swedish soldier Hans Axel von Fersen, who lived in his own apartment above the queen’s at her “pleasure house” in Versailles — a fact that Louis XVI seemed largely oblivious to.
With France racked by debt, partially as a result of Louis XVI’s funding for the American Revolution, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were deposed and captured during the French Revolution in 1792. Both were later beheaded.
It is unclear how much the blood-containing gourd is now worth in the aftermath of this week’s revelation.