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Tests using ground-breaking new DNA technology are commencing on the clothing of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the first president of Czechoslovakia. For years it has been rumoured that Masaryk might have been the illegitimate son of Emperor Franz Josef, who was of the House of Hapsburg. Tests will be undertaken first on living relatives of Masaryk’s legal father, and if there is no match, on items belonging to the Hapsburg family.

Masaryk’s mother had been the cook on one of Frank Josef’s estates; finding herself pregnant, she quickly married a man of lower status, who was ten years her junior. In itself, a hasty marriage under such circumstances would be nothing unusual, but Tomas’s subsequent rise into important positions from such inauspicious beginnings fuelled the rumours of possible royal parentage…and patronage.

However, there is no hard evidence his mother Theresia even met the Emperor, let alone slept with him.

Czech historians are not particularly happy at the idea of the DNA testing, believing it is ‘disrespectful’ and citing that Masaryk always spoke of his mother’s husband, Joseph, as his father and that they had a close relationship. However, that could still be true even if Tomas was not Joseph’s biological son.

There seems a strong resistance from Czech historians against potentially having to rewrite certain elements of history in a way they did not anticipate. This reluctance to change accepted belief could, of course, apply to many historians in the U.K. too, who cling to a number of outmoded legends and seem to have no desire to challenge them. DNA could help solve some of those ‘mysteries’ too…


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  1. skiinglady on said:

    I feel a little uncomfortable at this research. Although clearly all persons concerned are dead I think it is unethical to use DNA simply to satisfy a curiosity. There does not appear to be an inheritance issue here.
    I do think there is an exception regarding the bones in the urn at Westminster abbey. In that case a mans posthumous reputation is at stake and it is kept at a prominent place in the abbey so foreign visitors see this. The effect is to reinforce the legend. It is stated they are definitely the bones of the princes only Richard the thirds involvement is assumed . All visitors will not “assume” anything.
    How does the abbey admit it has lied for so many years, No wonder they are against testing!!!!
    I am excited about improvements in DNA testing so it may be possible to test without any remains if an item of clothing could be found. That means that if any item of clothing worn by perkin warbeck could be found there is no need to actually find him.


    • Jasmine on said:

      There would be a problem of contamination, even if a piece of 500 year old clothing could be found, there is likely to be no evidence it belonged to Warbeck.

      Not sure what you mean by the Abbey ‘lying’.


      • Advertising the urn as definitely containing the “Princes”, as they do, is highly misleading although “lying” presupposes knowledge of the definite or probable falsity of their statement.


      • skiinglady on said:

        I accept that “lying” was probably not the correct term to use in retrospect. I accept also of course that the present abbey management had nothing to do with the original inscription on the urn!!!!. The declaration, however, of the bones being of the princes when there is absolutely no certainty at all IS hugely misleading and cannot be sustained. I am not aware if there is any notice in the abbey that states that the bones are not confirmed as I have never been there myself. If there is not then any visitor will clearly think they ARE believed by them to be the real item.
        Also. contamination is always a problem even with actual remains but relevant information can be obtained. I simply was stating that it is good that DNA testing has improved to the point that reliable DNA can be taken from inanimate objects as it opens possibilities where remains are not available. I thought it was actually possible to extract DNA already from clothing perhaps this new technology just simplifies it. I don’t know .


      • The Abbey have the excuse that their statement on the urn etc is a very old one.
        Today’s Cairo dwellers do not.


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