In 1793, when his mother was beheaded at the guillotine, she left her adored eight-year-old son imprisoned in the Temple Tower. Far from inheriting a throne, the orphaned boy-King had to endure the hostility and abuse of a nation. Two years later, the Revolutionary leaders declared Louis XVII was dead. No grave was dug, no monument built to mark his passing. Immediately, rumours spread that the Prince had, in fact, escaped from prison and was still alive. Others believed that he had been murdered, his heart cut out and preserved as a relic. In time, his older sister, Marie-Therese, who survived the Revolution, was approached by countless 'brothers' who claimed not only his name, but also his inheritance. Several 'princes' were plausible, but which, if any, was the real Louis-Charles?
Deborah Cadbury's 'The Lost King of France' is a moving and dramatic story. Interweaving a pivotal moment in France's history with a compelling detective story involving pretenders to the crown, royalist plots and bizarre legal battles. The quest for the truth finally runs to the present day. Using modern DNA testing, the strange odyssey of a stolen heart found within the royal tombs was to lead to an exciting conclusion to the two hundred-year-old mystery of the Lost King of France.
This was a great book!
It provided a good overview of the life of Louis & M.A. and the events of the French Revolution without getting bogged down into a dry and boring litany of names and dates - Deborah Cadbury kept it interesting the entire way through. (Highly probable this is because I had an abridged version)
Up until now, all I knew about the history of the French Revolution ended with the execution of Marie Antoinette and the instauration of the French Republican Calendar. I knew nothing about her children and their fate.
Poor little Louis died in such miserable circumstances your heart just breaks for the innocent child – the mystery of whether or not he secretly survived was a fascinating one and I am glad I read a book that provided a definitive scientific answer to that question.