October 14, 2013

Y-chromosome of Napoleon the Great

A previous article had determined that Napoleon I had belonged to Y-haplogroup E-M34*, and a new one designates his haplogroup as "M123+, M34+, and L791 and L792+," and determines a multi-STR haplotype for his lineage based on two patrilineal relatives.

Such a well-resolved haplotype may now make it possible to both (i) find descendants and relatives of Napoleon that may be unaware of this connection, and (ii) to more precisely determine the ultimate origins of the house of Buonaparte.

International Journal of Sciences 2(9)

Reconstruction of the Lineage Y Chromosome Haplotype of Napoléon the First

Gerard Lucotte, Jacques Macé, Peter Hrechdakian

As part of the Napoléon I Genome (NIG) project we have reconstructed, based on more than one hundred Y-STRs (Y-short tandem repeats), the complete Y-haplotype of the non-recombinant part of the Y-chromosome (NRY) of French Emperor Napoléon I (1769-1821). We already knew the allelic values at Y-markers of the Y-chromosome of Napoléon I, but only for the palindromic STR YCAIIa and b and for the non-palindromic Y-STR DYS19. The present reconstruction aims to compare the allelic values at Y-STRs of the DNA of Charles Napoléon (C.N.), the living 4th generation descendant of Jérôme Bonaparte (Napoléon I’s youngest brother), with those of Alexandre Colonna Walewski (A.C.W.), the living 4th generation descendant of Count Alexandre Walewski (the son born of the union between Napoléon I and Countess Maria Walewska). We have previously established that Napoléon I, C.N. and A.C.W. are of the same Y-haplogroup E1b1b1b2a1. The allelic values for C.N. and A.C.W. are the same for ninety-three other non-palindromic markers (belonging to ninety different STRs) and for thirty-eight other palindromic markers (belonging to fifteen different STRs); these values then constitute those deduced in the reconstruction of the allelic values of the STR markers of the Napoléon I’s Y-haplotype. Four non-palindromic STRs and two palindromic STRs have different allelic values in C.N. and A.C.W.; we have deduced the allelic value of Napoléon I for one (DYS454), and the probable allelic values for two (Y-GATA-C4 and DYS712) of these non-palindromic variable STRs. To sum up, we have established, by reconstruction of the lineage, the allelic values of the markers of Napoléon I’s Y-haplotype for a total of one-hundred and thirty-three different Y-STR markers.

Link (pdf)


  1. Cue the comments by the clueless about how one of his ancestor's nicknames was "darkie" or something. Cue the pseudoscience. Cue the pop-scie stories on websites.

    So I will stress in advance how cool this is, but also how it is consistent with someone of Italian heritage, like Napoleon was, on the western Italian islands.

    This lineage is found in Sardinia and in Italy, as well as other parts of Central Europe.

    REMEMBER: we are talking a sublineage. Sometimes, I feel like the Letters (i.e., "Haplogroup E") mean nothing now, since we have SNP information so downstream. Generalizations like "HG E is African" mean nothing, since, in the end, we are all African.

  2. It's a weird result which they report with DYS454. Normally a really boring STRs where almost everybody has 11 repeats but very rarely, the value is off by one.

    One of their two Napoleonids is 11 alright, but the other one is 7, not just a discordant value but ways out of the expected range too.

  3. I recall reading somewhere that relatives of John VIII Paleologus settled in Corsica after the fall of Constantinople. Wonder if any of those genes drifted over to the Bonaparte Family....

  4. There is of course an old folk belief that the Bonaparte family descents in part from Greek (Maniote) or Arbereshe (Albanian) Christians who settled in Corsica. I am unaware of the level of validity of such assertions however.

  5. I have read in islamic history books that Napoleon was a direct descendant patrilineally from the arab conqueror of Sicily. I think his y dna haplotype give credence to the story. thanks.

  6. Close but not cigar as the carnies say. My haplotype is relatively close to Napoleon's at E1b1b1b2a1d1. Genealogically, he is about a 15th cousin, many times removed. I have an American connection to Jerome, Nappy's brother. One of our common ancestors is Charles VII of France. From what I have read in genealogical circles, the Buonapartes came to Corsica from Tuscany where they resided for some generations. They may well have come from Sicily earlier, and of course the Southern population of Italy was early colonized from Greece and Albania and probably from Libya directly and indirectly. The nickname "Blackie" would be based on hair colour or a dark complexion but is not specifically Moorish, so Napoleon's North African ancestry might well be far more ancient than the Moors, Islam or even the distinction between Europeans and Black Africans. Early Europeans were dark haired, dark skinned, and some of them had blue eyes. They were not, however, Sub-Saharan Africans.


Stay on topic. Be polite. Use facts and arguments. Be Brief. Do not post back to back comments in the same thread, unless you absolutely have to. Don't quote excessively. Google before you ask.