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Clarifying History Using Modern Science   

Issue Overview

Due to the wonder of DNA testing, it is now possible for us to use science to determine if the ten year-old Louis XVII survived his long internment in the infamous "Temple" prison in Paris after his mother (Marie-Antoinette) and father (Louis XVI) were executed during the French Revolution in the 1790s. There were many staff loyal to the royal family working at the Temple when the boy was imprisoned there, and the story goes that they circulated a cover story that the boy was deathly sick. It is possible that the young Louis XVII was quietly smuggled out of the Temple and the body of a teenager placed in his room in the Temple and then buried as if it was Louis XVII that had died.

It does seem possible that this scheme could have occurred. However, it would have been very difficult to keep such a rescue secret and there is a possibility that word could have spread that the young Louis XVII had been spirited out of the Temple. The fact that over fifty pretenders have made claims that they were Louis XVII points to widespread belief that the boy did survive. However, one by one these pretenders have been proven false. Except for one - when a young man turned up a number of years later under the assumed name "Naundorff", with intimate knowledge of his childhood as a young Louis XVII that only he could know, people were pre-conditioned to believe he was just another pretender. This story of unconfirmed identity continues until this day with the present day de Bourbon family who are Naundorff’s descendants and thus, if the story is true, Louis XVII’s descendants.

Over the decades that followed and right to his death, Naundorff’s story never wavered and his identity was confirmed enthusiastically over and over again by those that had met him as a young boy. He gained many supporters who were convinced of who he was. By the time of his death, Naundorff was recognized by many including the Dutch government as Louis XVII and, thus, the heir to the French throne but, alas, not by his own country of France. That is how he came to be buried under a large official headstone in Delft, Holland in 1845 that was inscribed "Louis XVII, King of France".

That grave and headstone are still in the same place in Delft - set back on a busy street corner near the downtown area. The not-for-profit organization Fondation de Bourbon, with financial assistance from its supporters, received official permission from the descendants of Louis XVII and from the City of Delft to exhume the body in order to take samples for DNA testing. That exhumation was done under careful supervision in October of 2004.

Those DNA samples are sealed and locked in a secure vault and will be compared against Louis XVII’s direct descendants and against other remaining samples from the de Bourbon family that historians have access to. The intent is to credibly and openly prove whether Naundroff really was the son of Louis XVI and, thus, what really happened at the Temple.

The Fondation de Bourbon has enlisted the help of several well-known DNA experts to independently analyze the DNA . They are assisting for the purpose of academic research and to help close the books on an important chapter of French history.

As you can imagine, the cost of the exhumation and testing project is not insignificant. The City of Delft was quite specific about how the exhumation project had to play out. It involved many professions such as pathologists, stone masons, plumbers, security staff, heavy equipment operators etc. Also, special equipment such as tents, clean lab-quality clothes, security fences and many tools had to be rented or secured.

This project is costly, and the Fondation de Bourbon is relying on the generosity of people like you who proudly support this endeavour. The FdB is committed to raising the considerable amount of money needed by the same grass roots movement that has brought it this far. It is fighting for scientific and historical correctness, not the desires of politics.

Please donate whatever you can using the donate button on the home page. .  No donation is too small and every donation to the foundation is very much appreciated. We need each and every one of you. We all thank you.

Copyright© Fondation de Bourbon 2005   

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