The burial took place at night. The official minutes place this event the day after the autopsy, but the official enquiry ordered by Count Angles in 1817, places it three days after the autopsy.
The child’s body was put into in a whitewood coffin, and the convoy left by the main Temple gate at half past eight, on its way to Sainte Marguerite Cemetary. Exactly where was he buried?
The commissionaries Simon and Petit claimed that the coffin had been buried in the common grave. The widow of the gravedigger Bertrancourt said that it had later been removed from there. Dusset, Voisin and Lasne all agree that it was buried in a separate grave. However, it has never been possible to find agreement on the exact spot.
In 1816, the Restoration Government wanted to undertake a search for the Dauphin’s body. The search was called off before it began.
In November 1846, workmen digging in the old Sainte Marguerite Cemetary, found a lead coffin at a shallow depth, at the left pillar of the side door of the little church.
Father Haumet, priest of Sainte Marguerite’s, had organized the work. The workmen were digging foundations for an outhouse, which the priest said was necessary for casting a bell. However, the priest later confided to one of his fellow priests, Father Bossuet, that the construction of the outhouse was only a cover for much more secret diggings.
Father Haumet called another of his friends, Dr Milcent, in whose presence the coffin was opened. It contained a child’s skeleton. Having carefully examined it, Dr Milcent wrote a report saying that all of the bones of this skeleton were weak and delicate. From which, he appears to have concluded that the skeleton could only be that of the Dauphin.
Dr Milcent’s original report has never been found. However, a report by Dr Recamier, also called to examine the remains found by Father Haumet, can be substituted for it. It was countersigned by Dr Milcent. In this report, it is said that “the bones of the arms and legs, and the teeth, seem to belong to a subject roughly fifteen or sixteen years of age at most”.
The skeleton was also examined by Dr Bayle who, after looking at the skull, estimated that “the subject must have been fifteen or sixteen at most”. Professors Lallemand and Andral were of the opinion that he was twenty years old because of the wisdom teeth.
It appears evident that the Sainte Marguerite Cemetary bones were not those of a ten year old child, although there are still people who think that it was Louis XVII. The proof that it wasn’t, turned up half a century later.
On Tuesday, 5 June, 1894, Maitre Laguerre, armed with all of the necessary authorisations, was supervising a dig in Sainte Marguerite Cemetary, when he found the coffin which had been reburied after the examinations of 1846.
Doctors de Backer and Bilhaut, later assisted by Doctors Manouvrier and Magitot, examined the bones. This took place inside a cellar built in 1846, on a wobbly table. The worm-eaten coffin bore the inscription L….XVII. The conclusions were the following:
“The result of the detailed examination which we have just practised is:
“1. That we are in presence of a subject of masculine sex (shown by the particular state of the iliac bones)
“2. The subject had reached fourteen years old – and could have been older. The state of the epiphyses, the humeri, the femurs, the tibiae, as well as the examinaton of the skull, permit us to conclude this. The state of the maxillae, their development and their spacing, the dental system all corroborate this assertion.
“3. Certain modifications in the direction of some of the bones, show a special weakness, which has resulted in a slight scoliosis, a slowing of the development of the thorax and a slight degree of genu vulgum on the left.”
This was signed by Doctors de Backer and Bilhaut.
Doctors Magitot and Manouvrier of the School of Anthropology then gave their opinion, which mostly concerned the teeth. There was a complete absence of milk teeth and the last milk tooth usually falls around the twelfth year. The two experts resumed their findings like this: “The skeleton that we have examined is that of a subject, probably masculine, with the height of roughly 1.63 metres, and certainly aged between 18 and 20 years. Our observations relate in no way to a child like the historical skeleton which would have been aged ten years and two months at his death and inhumation.”
One last proof that the child who died at the Temple was not the Dauphin, comes from his hair. The hair taken by Damont was eventually tracked down and analyzed. The results were compared to those made on a lock of the Dauphin’s hair cut by Marie-Antoinette before she was separated from her son. Louis XVII’s hair has a particularity: the medullary canal is not in the middle, but on the side; on the other hand, the hair kept by Damont did not possess this characteristic.
Other strange details are that the Dauphin’s sister, who was in the cell next-door, was not called to identify her brother’s body. Madame Royale, having become the Duchess of Angouleme, always avoided speaking of her brother. Louis XVIII never wanted to accept the heart of Louis XVII when Pelletan tried to give it to him, and suspected its authenticity.
In light of all of this, we can fairly safely conclude that the child who died in the Temple Prison was not Louis XVII.