Carlos II-  The Bewitched King

King Charles II of Spain

King Carlos II of Spain

When Carlos was born on November 6, 1661 there was universal rejoicing in Spain that there was a legitimate male heir.  What they did not realize that Carlos had grave health issues.  The child was not expected to live long.  Along with mandibular prognathism, a.k.a. the Hapsburg lip  (his lower jaw being larger than his upper) which made him unable to chew food properly, his oversized tongue left him prone to drooling and he didn’t learn to speak until he was four years old.  Although he was treated like an infant, Carlos survived.  He was breast fed by a series of wet nurses until he was six, however, some reports place the age of his weaning as high fourteen.  The boy did not learn to walk until he was eight.  Yikes.  

All of this was due to the extensive inbreeding in the royal family.  Carlos’ parents were a prime example of this Philip IV married his niece, Mariana of Austria.  This was common for the Hapsburgs and Carlos’ family tree literally did not branch.  Someone whose direct ancestors were all unrelated to their spouses would have 32 great great great grandparents, Carlos only had 14.

His father, Philip IV, died when Carlos was four, leaving his mother Mariana as regent.  The family didn’t know and/or couldn’t admit inbreeding was the cause of Carlos’ problems, so they put out Carlos was cursed.  The called him El Hechizado or Carlos the Hexed. The Inquisition was in full swing and literal witch hunts ran through court looking for someone who cursed Carlos.  The Inquisition General “questioned” some prisoners and they came up with this story.  Carlos had been cursed at the age of fourteen.  This did not explain his previous health problems, but who is keeping track?  Someone gave Carlos a cup of chocolate containing ingredients taken from a corpse.  And who did this?  Carlos’ mother, Mariana, was accused of casting the he and he could only be cured if they were separated.  Convenient for anyone else trying to gain power.

The Queen Mother was furious, but Carlos bought this hook, line and sinker.  He sent his mother away and got an exorcist from Vienna to come perform an exorcism on him.  Needless to say, it did not work, so obviously the Queen Mother must have cast another spell.  Mariana had enough and replaced the head of the Inquisition with her man, and then had the failed exorcist tried.  It was a mess, and Carlos did not get any better.

Unbelievably, the found two princesses to marry this man.  Luckily, neither marriage produced any children.  It is assumed that he was infertile if not actually impotent.  His life was miserable.  He prone to high fevers which kept him confined to his bed. It’s also said that he suffered from seizures, that he invariably vomited on carriage rides due to chronic motion sickness, and that his eyes oozed liquid in open air. In addition to his physical shortcomings, Carlos was purportedly dim-witted and he was left basically uneducated.  Towards the end of his life he became paranoid and made life difficult for everyone.  When he died in 1700 it was a relief.  

Except that his lack of heir was disastrous.  Carlos had named Philip, Duke of Anjou as his heir, but the disagreements over that kicked of the War of Spanish Succession.  Since everyone was related to everyone, it seemed everyone had a claim.   Inbreeding remained a problem for European royalty, but Carlos II remains one of the worst examples.

ER

Sources available on request