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Hergé: Who was his real grandfather?

tintiNZ
Member
#1 · Posted: 11 Jul 2021 04:57 · Edited by: Moderator
With recent advances in DNA technology, it would be interesting and quite possible to determine Herge's biological paternal grandfather.

Alexis (Herge's father) and his identical twin Leon were born in 1882 to Marie Barbe "Leonie" Dewigne, an unmarried 22 year-old, who worked for the Countess Helene Errembault de Dudzeele as a chambermaid. Marie eventually married in 1893 to Philippe Remi - who gave the family their surname.

It was generally assumed that the biological father of the twins was someone from the Chateau. Possibly, Count Gaston Errembault de Dudzeele, or a visitor, which included Belgium's then king, Leopold II, who also stayed at the Chateau on occasion.

Apparently, Herge would enjoy casually mentioning to colleagues that his family came from Chaumont-Gistoux. As Pierre Assouline states in his biography, Herge would repeat to his cousin what his parents had told him when questioning the identity of his grandfather - "If you knew, you would become swell-headed".

As Marie and the twins, Alexis and Leon, were allowed to live on at the family estate of Chaumont-Gistoux, it makes for quite a strong case pointing to the master of the house being involved. But, even more incriminating, King Leopold II who was infamous for having many mistresses and also fathering several illegitimate children, would seem the most likely "smoking gun".

As Herge had no children, DNA tracing would have to be done via the descendants of, on one side brother Paul, and the other side King Leopold II and/or Count Gaston Errembault de Dudzeele and their respective grandchildren / great grandchildren.
DNA testing would also clear anyone of a familial link.

Easy. But, all parties would need to be agreeable.
jock123
Moderator
#2 · Posted: 11 Jul 2021 10:39 · Edited by: jock123
But what would knowing achieve? Would putting the people through it (it may be "easy" to you, but perhaps a bit more of a burden for the parties who would be opening up family matters to the gaze of the public, and pehaps exposing internal conflicts and indiscretions in so doing) really justify it, to look at something which is very much just a rumour?
It all seems a bit prurient to me - it's obviously another particle of information for sure, but would it contribute to our understanding of him or his art?
The Asoulline book had a slightly prying air to the background material, looking for the tabloid angles, as it were, and that that marks it down for me.
I'd go for the Benoît Peeters over that, as it takes a less sensationalist approach.

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