The tomb of the ‘Dark Countess’ exhumed to solve 200-year-old mystery

From Wikipedia, painting of Marie Thérèse

From Wikipedia, painting of Marie Thérèse Charlotte, Madame Royal

The grave of the “Dark Countess,” who some believe was Marie Thérèse Charlotte, was exhumed on Tuesday in Germany, in the hope of resolving the 200-year-old mystery.

Marie Thérèse, the eldest daughter of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI of France, was the only member of her immediate family to survive the French Revolution.  Her family was imprisoned in the Temple Tower in Paris in 1792, and her father and mother were guillotined in 1793, when she was only 15 years old.

The official account of her life states that Marie-Thérèse survived the period of violence after the Revolution, also known the Reign of Terror, and fled to Vienna.  She married Louis Antoine, Duke of Angoulême, eldest son of the future King Charles X of France.  In 1830 she was technically Queen of France for all of 20 minutes before her husband was forced to abdicate.  After that they lived in exile in Edinburgh, Prague and Vienna.  Over the years stories persisted that the real Marie Thérèse was so devastated by the Revolution that she secretly traded places with Ernestine Lambriquet, believed to be her half sister, and lived in hiding in Hildburghausen, Thuringia, in central Germany, as the Dark Countess

Photo via The Telegraph of the tomb of the Dark Countess being exhumed.

Photo via The Telegraph of the tomb of the Dark Countess being exhumed.

The ‘Dark Countess’ resided in Hildburghausen with a enigmatic count, from 1807 until her death in 1837.  Little is known about her except that she only went out in a carriage or with a veil covering her face.   Recently,  authorities in Hildburghausen agreed to open the tomb to conduct DNA tests on the elusive countess,  and the forensic team recovered parts of her skeleton in the German tomb yesterday.

In May of 2012, Germany state radio wanted to end speculation over the identity of the ‘Dark Countess’ by comparing DNA tests of her remains with Marie Thérèse’s official remains in the church of the Franciscan Monastery of Kostanjevica near Nova Gorica, Slovenia.

Michael Romhild, the director of the Hildburghausen museum, told the Telegraph said that once analyzed, “modern science will clear up the fate of the Dark Countess”.

Also-the Dark Countess sounds like the best Halloween costume ever.

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Update #1: The Dark Countess Reburied in Germany

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