French Royalty. Born Louis Charles at Versailles, the second son of Louis XVI, King of France and Marie Antoinette. He gained the title of Duc de Normandie at birth. His elder brother, the Dauphin Louis-Joséph, became ill with tuberculosis and died at the age of seven, leaving Louis Charles to succeed to the title of Dauphin in June, 1789. Meanwhile, revolution exploded in France. The royal family attempted to escape the country in 1791, but were forced back to Paris by Republicans. On September 21, the National Convention abolished the monarchy. The royal family was then moved to the Temple Fortress and imprisoned. Louis XVI was guillotined in January, 1792, and the boy automatically succeeded. On July 3, 1793, commissioners arrived in the royal family's cell to remove him. He had been proclaimed Louis XVII by Royalists and the Republicans decided to hold the eight-year-old in solitary confinement. The Queen shielded her son, refusing to give him up. When the commissioners threatened to kill her if she did not hand the child over, she still refused. She held them off for two hours before she was forced to stand down to save her daughter's life. Louis was handed over to a cobbler, Antoine Simon, who had been named his guardian by the Committee of General Security, who was known to get the child drunk. Simon and his wife departed in January, 1794, and Louis Charles was imprisoned alone in a small windowless room. Food was passed through bars to him, while filth accumulated in his cell. It was over six months before anyone visited the boy's cell when it was reported the child was suffering from extreme neglect. He and his room were cleaned, and he was entrusted to a new attendant, Jean Jacques Christophe Laurent, and his assistant Gomin. From the end of October, Louis Charles maintained silence, which was explained by Laurent as a resolve the boy made the day he was forced to make a deposition against his mother. Visits from commissioners did not shake the boy's resolve. Étienne Lasne was appointed to be the child's new guardian in March, 1795. Two months later, he was reported as seriously ill. Doctor P. J. Desault was summoned to attend. Desault died suddenly, with suspicion of poison, a month later, and several days passed before doctors Pelietan and Dumangin were called. It was announced on June 8 that Louis Charles had died. The next day, an autopsy was reported held at which it was stated that a child about ten years of age, had died of a "condition of long standing." The attending doctor, Philippe-Jean Pelletan, allegedly removed and hid the child's heart in his handkerchief, and preserved it in alcohol as a memento. The boy's body was buried two days later in the cemetery of St. Marguerite in an unmarked grave. Few accepted the official verdict. Rumors abounded: he died of neglect, he was murdered, he did not die at all, but escaped to safety and another child put in his place. Rumors never faded, and, in 1846, authorities exhumed the grave where the child was supposed to have been buried. The body they found appeared to be that of a slightly older child, in his middle to late teens. In the years that followed, dozens of men claimed to be the lost Dauphin. After the restoration of the monarchy in 1814, the alleged heart of the Dauphin was placed in a crystal vase in the royal crypt at Saint Denis Basilica. By 2000, scientists proposed DNA tests on the heart, with hair taken from Marie Antoinette. Test results claimed that the two shared DNA and were therefore related, but could not confirm a mother- son relationship. Although he never reigned and remained uncrowned, he is regarded a King of France.
Bio by: Iola