I have always been fascinated with the dynastical (did I make up a word?) reigns of kings and emperors. I am especially amazed at the young ones. Tutankhamen became Pharaoh at 7, Louis VII became king of France at 11, and 339 years ago today, Charles II became King of Spain at the ripe old age of 15.
I know that 15 was a lot older in 1676 than it is today, but honestly, you could not trust me to remember to take out the trash or wash my clothes at 15. Can you imagine the 15 year old that mows your lawn controlling armies and navies?
Charles, or Carlos if you are from Spain, came from not so humble beginnings as he was a Habsburg. The Habsburgs were a “modest family” that ruled most of Europe with titles like:
- Holy Roman Emperor
- King of the Romans
- King of England
- Grand Prince of Transylvania
The Habsburgs were the royal family of royal families. They were married into EVERY royal house in Europe. They liked to keep their families and royal blood close. Uncles marrying nieces, first cousins marrying first cousins. You know–inbreeding. It is almost like the Habsburgs invented the concept. (Maybe we should change the name to Habsburging?)
Charles was no different in this. His Father was Philip IV of Spain, his mother Mariana of Austria. Mariana’s mother was Maria Anna of Spain, Philip IV’s sister. So, uncle married niece, making Maria Anna of Spain, both Charles’s aunt and grandmother! How messed up are those Christmases?
Charles–the lucky guy he was–was the result of generations of inbreeding and was born mentally deficient, disfigured, and physically disabled. It has been said that his tongue was so large that he was hard to understand. As a result of his physical and mental issues, he did not attend school, and was treated as an infant until age 10. He was called el Hechizado or the Bewitched.
Of course, it was a time of great superstition. Because of this, his life issues were blamed on witches and people consorting with the devil and wanting to plot his ruin. Charles was a big proponent of the Spanish Inquisition and enjoyed burning heretics. He even burned some heretics to celebrate his first wedding.
Charles was the only living son of Philip IV and the last male Habsburg in Spain. Although he was married twice, his spouses–Marie Louise d’Orleans and Maria Anna of Neuburg–produced no offspring. Charles was most likely impotent as a result of all the inbreeding.
Charles was last of the Habsburg line of kings that Spain had.
He died on November 1,1700 at the ripe old age of 38–having ruled on his own for 25 years.
His death without an heir provoked the War of Spanish Succession.
So, lesson learned= variety strengthens the gene pool. A normal person will have 32 great-great-great grandparents. Charles had 14.
- Inbreeding: Downfall of a Dynasty
- The costs of human inbreeding and their implications for variations at the DNA level