Louis-Charles, Duc de Normandie, enjoyed a charmed early childhood in the gilded palace of Versailles. At the age of four, he became the dauphin, heir to the most powerful throne in Europe. Yet within five years he was to lose everything. Drawn into the horror of the French Revolution, his family was incarcerated and their fate thrust into the hands of the revolutionaries who wished to destroy the monarchy.
In 1793, when Marie Antoinette 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 dead. No grave was dug, no monument built to mark his passing.
Immediately, rumors 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. As with the tragedies of England's princes in the Tower and the Romanov archduchess Anastasia, countless ""brothers"" soon approached Louis-Charles's older sister, Marie-Therese, who survived the revolution. They claimed not only the dauphin's name, but also his inheritance. Several ""princes"" were plausible, but which, if any, was the real heir to the French throne?
The Lost King of France is a moving and dramatic tale that interweaves a pivotal moment in France's history with a compelling detective story that involves pretenders to the crown, royalist plots and palace intrigue, bizarre legal battles, and modern science. The quest for the truth continued into the twenty-first century, when, thanks to DNA testing, the strange odyssey of a stolen heart found within the royal tombs brought an exciting conclusion to the two-hundred-year-old mystery of the lost king of France.
Praise for The Lost King of France
""Absolutely stupendous . . . This is history as it should be. I can't praise it highly enough. It is stunningly written; I could not put it down. This is the best account of the French Revolution I have ever read.""
---Alison Weir, author of Henry VII: The King and His Court
""A wonderful book . . . Deborah Cadbury's fascinating account of a child victim of revolutionary brutality is a masterly synthesis of science and narrative history that provides a definitive solution to a celebrated mystery. Authoritative, lucid, and utterly absorbing.""
---Anne Somerset, author of Elizabeth I
""A first-class read---informative, entertaining, and a great, grand adventure. Most noteworthy.""
---Margaret George, author of The Autobiography of Henry VIII
""Unputdownable. Deborah Cadbury succeeds in conveying the human tragedy of this story more emotively than any other writer. Added to that, her book has the gripping pace of a thriller. I cannot recommend this too highly.""
---Maureen Waller, author of 1700: Scenes from London Life
""The Lost King of France is a fascinating and well-told story that reads with great interest and pleasure. My congratulations on a well researched work.""
---Ian Dunlop, author of Louis XIV
""An absorbing tale, combining sound history and modern science. The restrained description of the sufferings of the little prince from the officious sadism of the revolutionary officials serves only to add poignancy to his story.""
---John Hardman, author of Louis XVI: The Silent King