25.3.11

The tomb of Louis XVII?




You can read "L XVII 1785-1795, Attendite et videte si est dolor sicut dolor meus" (Pay attention and see if there will be any sorrow like my sorrow). Is this the tomb of Louis XVII?
In a recent post I talked about the guillotined Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. They had a son, who for the royalists, on the death of Louis XVI in January 1793, became Louis XVII, at the age of 8, not actually of any real value during these Revolutionary years. The family was then imprisoned in the Temple (see previous posts). A few months after his father’s death the son was separated from his mother, who was going to be guillotined a few months later. A couple of cobblers took care of him for a while, but he was then for some time really imprisoned, alone in a dark room, before being somehow better treated,  basically with the aim to convert him to the Revolutionary ideas. He was even forced to make depositions against his mother. He died two years later of scrofulous infection, at the age of 10.
He was buried in a mass grave at the Sainte Marguerite Cemetery. This seems now to be the true story, but there have been many rumours, e.g. that he could have escaped. Some hundred people pretended later to be him; some were taken quite seriously. What one knows is that the young man under the little gravestone is not Louis XVII, but the stone was added later and it seems to be clear that he was just one of the hundreds in the mass grave, whereof some 300 from the nearby guillotines at Bastille and Nation (see previous posts about guillotines). On his death his heart was saved. It changed owners many times, but was recovered a few years ago when it could be DNA tested and proved as his. Since 2004, you can find it in the Saint Denis Basilica (see previous post), where most French royalties were buried.












The Sainte Marguerite Cemetery was closed in 1805 and is now covered with buildings, except for some limited area. The Sainte Marguerite Church is still there. It dates from the first half of the 17th century, with some later additions.



On one of the stained glass windows you can read the Pope Paul VII held a masse here in 1805, a few weeks after he had crowned Napoleon as Emperor (see previous post).


One of the chapels, “La Chapelle des Ames du Purgatoire”, is being restored at present. You can see what it should look like from the picture I found in a little brochure. The architect was the same as the one for the Théatre Français, la Comédie Française – Nicolas Victor-Louis (1731-1802). 






23 comments:

Nadege said...

I am glad all is back to normal Peter. Great post, as usual!

Virginia said...

I don't know how you find all of this but we're so glad you do Peter. SO interesting. I think I know more about French history from you than I do American history! Maybe it's a sign I must move!
Bon weekend !
V

Mystica said...

Thank you as usual for a most illuminating post.

Thérèse said...

Comme quoi la DNA eclaire bien des mysteres et la majorite du temps dans le bon sens.
Un peu isolee cette tombe de Louis XVII.

V Rakesh said...

Very interesting how you manage to uncover hidden troves of history!

claude said...

Quel pauvre destin il a eu ce Louis XVII. Pas marrant, la vie d'enfant de roi et de reine. Sa tombe semble perdue dans un coin de Paris, C'est triste.
Cergie a raison, je l'ai oubliée, elle était avec nous, Catherine, Carole et moi.

delphinium said...

Sacré gamin... Non ce n'est pas drôle. Même si je pense que la révolution française a été une bonne chose, le bain de sang qu'elle a engendré n'est pas glorieux. Tiens j'ai vu dernièrement le film de Sofia Coppola: "Marie Antoinette". C'est quand même fou de voir comment vivait la cour dans son château de Versailles: vie d'oisiveté et de plaisir alors que le peuple souffrait. Bref...

Dis donc, on devrait interdire les panneaux de circulation devant les églises, ça gâche un peu les photos.. :-))

Cergie said...

Que vient donc faire Ste Marguerite ici alors que c'est l'église Ste Catherine. Savais tu que ces deux saintes étaient ds le coup avec l'archange St-Michel pour intimer à Jeanne d'Arc d'aller bouter les anglais hors de France ?

Cergie said...

Ce ne doit pas être une tombe mais simplement un mémorial....

Simony said...

Poor little guy! What a harsh life it must have been. What happened to the other kids in the family?

Studio at the Farm said...

I am very happy your blog is back to normal. And, again, a fascinating posting!!!

Harriet said...

You find the most interesting things to share with us. Thank you.

Starman said...

A fascinating story about Louis XVII. The French owe you a debt of gratitude for your tireless presentations of French history. I wonder how many French people even know all this?

Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

What a wonderful mystery you have shared, Peter. The story is rather gruesome and so sad that the innocent child suffered. It is difficult to imagine the preservation of a child's heart and to display it in a church today, but perhaps there are cultural issues that I do not understand.

Thank you for the extensive details and maps, Peter.

Bises,
G

Dianne said...

Thanks Peter for this wonderful post. What a sad life for this child of nobility - life could have been oh! so different for him.

Thirtytwo degrees said...

Merci beaucoup! Peter, for the beautiful photographs of the church, especially the stained glass windows. The gravesite of the young prince is a strange story to contemplate, as I have read a variety of stories regarding his life and perhaps death. I appreciate the map to see where the church is located, and all the information about its history. Again, thanks so much. Encore, Merci beaucoup!

Zarko said...

Thanks for sharing pictures of Paris !

Anne said...

Don't you think it's Ste Marguerite and not Ste Catherine?

Peter said...

Anne: Of course. I have corrected!

sixmats said...

History like this is one of the many reasons I want to get over to Europe.

Trotter said...

Hi Peter! Your tour of the cemeteries is excellent; as all your tours, actually...

Blogtrotter Two is leaving the Côte d’Azur 2010; but it has a beautiful spot for you... Enjoy and have a wonderful Sunday and week ahead!!

Owen said...

What overwhelming sadness, sadness for this young lad who was obviously born at the wrong time to the wrong parents, and paid with a most cruel and tragic end to his very short days.

Your treatment of this story is heart rending yet inspiring, inspiring with the respect you render such fascinating subjects.

Thanks Peter... hope to catch up with you before too long...

joanny said...

Peter:

Wonderful historical recount and very good photo's.
I have read some stories about the separation of Marie-Antoinette and her children and the terrible mistreatment of her son, Louis XVII. There is not much one can say, except humans are prone to excesses and abuses of one another, cruel really. I hope the 21 century founds us evolving towards a more compassionate global race.

Joanny