Charles II of Spain – inbreeding victim

Incest is clearly not best! 

And this is not just because George S Kaufman said, ‘The trouble with incest is that it gets you involved with relatives.’ 

Intriguingly Charles Darwin the author of ‘On the Origin of the Species’ and originator of evolution thought was married to his first cousin.

Read on about its severe side-effects:

HabsburgIntermarriage A Habsburg, Charles lived from 1661-1770 and was king from 1665 to his death.The Habsburg dynasty in its latter years had become remote from its subjects and to maintain their hold on power they constantly intermarried with cousins, in what is termed consanguineous marriages.  The apparent safety of the choice of a relative came back and destroyed them!(source of article: 1492 and all that!)(source of chart courtesy of The Xenophile Historian)
Churchrules Inbreeding is prohibited today by the Anglican Church, so that a man is not permitted to marry,

  • His grandmother (or step-grandmother)
  • His mother (including step-mother, mother-in-law and adoptive mother)
  • His aunt
  • His sister (or half-sister)
  • His niece
  • His daughter (including step-daughter, daughter-in-law and adoptive daughter)
  • His granddaughter (or step-granddaughter)
  • His grandchild’s wife

A woman’s prohibitions are of course the mirror image of the above.

The Habsburg’s appear to have broken virtually all of these taboos.

Joanna the Mad Every one of Charles II’s ancestors descended from Joanna the Mad and Philip I of Castile. The madness of Joanna might well have been much more about her being locked away, her power usurped by her father, husband and then son.Just how convoluted it was all becoming is best illustrated by the fact that

  • of Charles’s 16 great-great-great-grandmothers, Joanna was two of them
  • of his 32 great-great-great-great-grandmothers, Joanna was six of them
MariannaAustria As a result they were more likely to have still births than peasants living in the then conditions of poverty and grime. One outward sign of this inbreeding was the Habsburg jaw (medically known as pathologic mandibular prognathism), where the lower jaw outgrows the upper to give an exaggerated protruding chin. This feature is quite notable in their portraits.Recently the University of Santiago de Compostela studied 3,000 Habsburgs across sixteen generations and this research suggested that it was inbreeding that led to their final extinction. Certainly the last two kings of Spain in the House of Habsburg exhibited severe disabilities.Philip IV had married his niece, Mariana of Austria, and their only surviving son Charles II became the last in their line. Inbreeding meant that Empress Maria Anna was both his aunt and his grandmother and Margarita of Austria was his grandmother and his great-grandmother!
CharlesII Charles II was shown by the Santiago study to have a genome that was the same as that for a child born from a brother and sister. He had the Habsburg chin, he was short, lame and epileptic. Doctors regularly concluded he would not last very long; he kept proving them wrong by surviving.Charles did not speak before he was four and walked only when he was eight. His frailty meant he was not sent to school and he was permitted not to wash himself.His sobriquet was El Hechizado, or ‘The Hexed’, suggesting that his physical and mental disabilities were down to sorcery, rather than inbreeding! At one point he even arranged to be exorcised to rid himself of these bad spells.
CharleIIburial Charles became more eccentric and eventually had a nervous breakdown. He died in 1700 not quite reaching his 39th birthday. A coroner’s report did not present a pretty picture, stating that his head was full of water, his body contained no blood, his heart was the size of a grain of pepper, his lungs had corroded, his intestines were putrid and gangrenous. He also had just a single testicle, which was described as being black as carbon.The last of his line in Spain, he left no heir and worse a very controversial will suggesting who he considered to be his successor. This confusion led directly to the War of the Spanish Succession between 1702 – 1713.More here…
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One Response

  1. Hi there, just wanted to say, I enjoyed this post. It was
    practical. Keep on posting!

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