Mummy found in Basel church is related to Boris Johnson
- Author: Megan Austin Jan 26, 2018,
Jan 26, 2018, 2:19
Her body had been preserved thanks to a high level of mercury, which was used to treat syphilis from the 15th century until the 19th century.
There was no gravestone to indicate her identity, but initial testing of her wooden coffin suggested it dated from the 16th Century.
Of course, as we now know, mercury is highly toxic and she is suspected to have died from mercury poisoning.
The mummy had been uncovered once before - in 1843, during building work at the church.
It may not have worked, but the mercury did help to preserve her body until now.
It was not until past year that scientists extracted DNA from the woman's big toe, and compared it to samples of DNA taken from living members of the Bischoff family, subsequently identifying her as Anna Catharina Bischoff.
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It has been believed that the mummy was part of the wealthy Bischoff family in Basel, and new DNA tests reported Thursday by the BBC and Switzerland's SRF show that body belonged to Anna Catharina Bischoff.
The research confirmed the woman was Anna Catharina.
But the mercury also preserved her body - allowing today's researchers to find out exactly who she was, and who her descendants are. Only two of those kids, both daughters, lived to see adulthood - and researchers say just one was known to have married and had children of her own. It's there, while caring for patients with syphilis, that it's believed she contracted the sexually transmitted disease.
He described the von Pfeffels as 'posh toffs'.
As for Bischoff, the researchers say that after her husband's death she returned to Basel, where she received the insidious treatment that ultimately led to her own death a few years later.
"This discovery means that Boris Johnson is not only distantly related, albeit very far removed, to the present Royal Family but also to all the royal houses of Europe, including the Swedish and Dutch royal families, as well as the Romanoffs", the BBC said at the time.
The Foreign Secretary has not commented on the discovery, but is known for his worldwide ancestry.