January 01, 2013

Y-chromosome and mtDNA of Henri IV

A recent paper had determined the Y-chromosome haplotype of Louis XVI of France from a handkerchief preserving his blood after his execution. A new study looks at the mummified head of Henri IV, the first Bourbon King of France. Even though only a limited number of Y-STRs were successfully typed, they match those of Louis XVI, who belonged to the not-so-frequent-anymore haplogroup G2a. So, while we cannot be entirely sure that the two Y-chromosomes were related in a genealogical time frame, the evidence is consistent with their known genealogical relationship and with the attribution of the two samples (mummified head/blood) to the respective kings.

Also of interest, Henri IV's mtDNA haplotype:
The majority of the clones generated show an U5b* mtDNA haplotype defined by three nucleotide changes at positions 16239T 16270T 16311C (see Supplementary material). The three HVR1 diagnostic positions were confirmed in two different amplifications of the L16185-H16378 HVR1 fragment, proving that the results are reproducible. This mtDNA haplotype is present so far in one single individual from France (originally published in [10]) in an in-house database of 22,807 published European sequences, and it is absent in all people involved in the laboratory analysis.
 If I followed the trail of ancestry correctly, this matrilineage leads all the way to a Tochter von Egisheim in the 11th century.

Forensic Science International Available online 30 December 2012

Genetic comparison of the head of Henri IV and the presumptive blood from Louis XVI (both Kings of France)

Philippe Charlier et al.

A mummified head was identified in 2010 as belonging to Henri IV, King of France. A putative blood sample from the King Louis XVI preserved into a pyrographically decorated gourd was analyzed in 2011. Both kings are in a direct male-line descent, separated by seven generations. We have retrieved the hypervariable region 1 of the mitochondrial DNA as well as a partial Y-chromosome profile from Henri IV. Five STR loci match the alleles found in Louis XVI, while another locus shows an allele that is just one mutation step apart. Taking into consideration that the partial Y-chromosome profile is extremely rare in modern human databases, we concluded that both males could be paternally related. The likelihood ratio of the two samples belonging to males separated by seven generations (as opposed to unrelated males) was estimated as 246.3, with a 95% confidence interval between 44.2 and 9729. Historically speaking, this forensic DNA data would confirm the identity of the previous Louis XVI sample, and give another positive argument for the authenticity of the head of Henri IV.



ryan said...

I'm assuming Tochter, rather than a name, is some dialect of German for daughter.

Project "Magnus Ducatus Lituaniae" said...

The matrilineage of Henry IV is traced back to Saint Mathilde

eurologist said...


That Familypedia entry is strange, though, since the last Otto Of Lothringen (Lorraine), who was a descendent of Charlemagne and actually had the right to the French throne, lived ~ 975 - 1006.

I got to Agnes (* ~1100; † 1129–1136), daugter of Heinrich I. of Limburg - but I admit it is easy to make mistakes... From there, there are two putative mothers, one which leads to:

Adelheid, who ~975 married Karl von Niederlothringen (Lower Lorraine,* 953; † after 991)

Gerberga, the daughter of an Otto whose identity is disputed, wife of Henry of Schweinfurt (~970 – 1017).

I had a friend who could trace his father's line to the 11th century through church records (the family had lived in the same village throughout). Before then, it gets tricky in Central/Northern Europe - even in well-known lines.

Raimo said...

The Familypedia entry is correct; this Otto of Lothringen is not the same as the Carolingian Duke Otto of Lothringen(c.970-c.1012). This second Otto was a Duke of Swabia and Count Palatine (not Duke) of Lothringen. He got his name from his maternal grandfather, Emperor Otto II(955-983). He himself was, through his daughter, an ancestor of the Hohenstaufen.

Fanty said...

"I'm assuming Tochter, rather than a name, is some dialect of German for daughter."

Right. Its exactly the German word for "doughter". I guess, someone missed to type in the name. I have seen something like this in other softwares, you "add" a child and chose the gender and its named "son" or "doughter" as long as you dont fill in the name.

Raimo said...

The real name of the individual in question isn't known.

shenandoah said...

The evidence sounds very convincing to me, that the bloodsoaked hankerchief is that of Louis XVI; and that the mummified head is that of Henry IV. It's far too coincidental to be otherwise, imho. (Btw, they're my two favorite kings of France!)

Creative said...

I am only guessing on this, but I find it interesting that the two men from the high-status 244 burial at Ergolding in southern Germany (7th century) were G2a. From the 6 men in burial 244, 1 had an Avar saber and 2 others had horse riding spurs. Which makes me wonder if the Robertians” Capetians” were indeed really Avar mercenaries who worked their way up in the Frankish ranks, or royal Avar hostages?


eurologist said...


The Avars in medieval Central/ Eastern Europe were most likely of mixed Turkic, Northeast Iranian, and Slavic background and as such unlikely to be predominantly of haplogroup G2a. Conversely, haplogroup G2a seems to have been widespread (albeit at low percentage) through much of Europe since the Neolithic.

One would need to know the particular subgroup to make any further inferences, since some subgroups are confined to very specific regions.

Ezr said...

Creative and Eurologist,

Not the Avars. The ALANS. They indeed seem to have influenced mediaeval chivalric culture and their presumed descendants in the Caucasus (the Ossetians) are overwhelmingly G2a...

Grey said...

"Which makes me wonder if the Robertians” Capetians” were indeed really Avar mercenaries who worked their way up in the Frankish ranks, or royal Avar hostages?"

"Not the Avars. The ALANS"

I think mercenaries generally will have had a disproportionate influence on royal dynasties throughout the world.

sidoroffs said...

Ezr, G2a has nothing to do with the Alans. Many peoples of the Caucasus have a lot of it, including the Georgians. Ossetian diversity is much less than the Georgian one. So there's absolutely no reason to think they came with the Alans.

Ezr said...


Distribution, variation, all that is irrelevant to what I was arguing. The point is that, among all predominantly G2a populations, it was the Alans (IF Alans=Ossetians), not the Georgians, who invaded Europe and joined the new Germanic elites and, more to the point, might be related to the lineage discussed here. I'm NOT saying this theory is likely, but, considering other evidence, it is possible.

Creative said...

The Avars picked up the language of their subjects, so I would think that any Eurasian nomad under their rule or sphere of influence would fight under their banner, simply just for booty. The 2 G2a men from Grave 244 were stripped of their equipment and their likely Germanic comrades weren’t, which makes me believe that the 2 may have had some sort of exotic foreign equipment on them, maybe because they where foreigners?

For example the Spanish national Hero Guzmán (1256–1309) is likely also of foreign ancestry. Foreign warlords trying to hide their ancestry and intermarry with local nobility to reinforce their claims and power basis is really nothing new.

sidoroffs said...


If I'm not mistaken, the Bourbons seem to belong to G2a3b1a-L140, the predominant G subclade in Western Europe. If so, I don't think they're as young in Western Europe as the Alans are.

Jean de Courtalain said...

@ sidoroffs

The Alans crossed the frozen Rhine River into Roman Gaul with the Huns in 406 AD. One of the areas the Romans settled the Alans (who were horsemen) as military allies was the region of Orleans/Aurelanium (sp?)... the Bourbons were the dukes of Orleans. It doesn't take a large leap of reason to consider that the Bourbons had Alan G2A haplotype blood flowing in their veins....

Salvations said...

It would be interesting if the G2A Y chromosome is compared to the data from the Duke of Braganza whose Y information was taken for the Christopher Columbus study... Does anyone know the results? The article below speaks of royal Dna taken from the Duke to prove Columbus was the offspring of a Prince.