40 Odd Facts About the Inbred King Charles II of Spain
40 Odd Facts About the Inbred King Charles II of Spain

40 Odd Facts About the Inbred King Charles II of Spain

Trista - February 6, 2019

40 Odd Facts About the Inbred King Charles II of Spain
Don Fernando de Valenzuela, Marquis of Villasierra, portrait by Juan Carreño de Miranda, c. 1675. Valenzuela may have been the lover of Charles’ mother. Wikipedia.

14. People Traded Positions in Charles’ Court

The irony of Charles’ court is the level of anarchy that existed within it. Fernando de Valenzuela, who may have actually been the lover of Charles’ mother, was the man who introduced ambassadors in the court. He was himself appointed to be ambassador to Venice, but traded that to be closer, in Granada, then trading that role to be prime minister.

40 Odd Facts About the Inbred King Charles II of Spain
Charles’ mother, Mariana. Diego Velázquez – The Yorck Project (2002) 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei (DVD-ROM), distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH / Wikipedia.

13. The Family Feuds Were Epic

When Charles ascended to the throne at the age of three, his mother Mariana, served as queen regent, ruling in his place. Her lover was Fernando de Valenzuela, the man behind much of the intrigue at court. To make matters worse, Charles had a half-brother, John of Austria the Younger, that many people believed was the legitimate ruler.

40 Odd Facts About the Inbred King Charles II of Spain
John of Austria the Younger, Charles’ half-brother. Wikimedia Commons/ Public Domain.

12. John Was Probably More Fit to Rule

Charles’ mother declared him unfit to rule, but she wasn’t prepared to hand the throne over to the bastard son of her deceased husband. If she had, the War of Spanish Succession might have been avoided. Not only did John not have the disabilities that Charles had, but he was also a decorated military figure who had made gains in the Netherlands, Portugal, and Dunkirk.

40 Odd Facts About the Inbred King Charles II of Spain
Coat of arms of John of Austria the Younger. Heralder – Menéndez Pidal y Navascués, Faustino, Hugo. El escudo; at Menéndez Pidal y Navascués, Faustino; O´Donnell y Duque de Estrada, Hugo; Lolo, Begoña. Símbolos de España. Madrid: Centro de Estudios Políticos y Constitucionales, 1999/ Wikimedia.

11. John Would Seize the Throne

John of Austria was quite popular in Spain, seeing as he was a decorated military figure and the king, his half-brother, was not even able to take care of his own self. He ousted Mariana, who had been serving as queen regent, and in 1677, initiated a coup in which he obtained the throne from Charles. He died two years later; the rumor was that he had been poisoned.

40 Odd Facts About the Inbred King Charles II of Spain
Titus Oates. Wikimedia Commons/ Public Domain.

10. The Game of Thrones Continues

Shortly after John of Austria seized the throne, he found himself at the center of a fictitious plot instigated by Titus Oates. Oates fabricated a story in which Catholic forces, presumably from Spain and France, would invade Protestant England in a bid to bring Catholicism back. The plot was revealed to be a discovery when Oates couldn’t say what John looked like, meaning that he had never spoken with him.

40 Odd Facts About the Inbred King Charles II of Spain
This is an official portrait of Felipe V (1683-1746), the first Bourbon king of Spain. Jean Ranc/ Wikimedia Commons/ Public Domain.

9. The Country Soon Headed for War

There was much uncertainty and fighting over the crown following the death of King Charles II in 1700. Ultimately it was given to Philip of Anjou, aka Philip V. Unfortunately, the web of political marriages throughout Europe meant that though he was the son of Maria Theresa, Charles’ sister, he was also the son of France’s Grand Dauphin. There would soon be trouble between France and Spain.

40 Odd Facts About the Inbred King Charles II of Spain
Marie-Anne de Neubourg, Charles’ second wife. Robert Gabriel Gence – Bayonne, musée basque/ Wikimedia Commons/ Public Domain.

8. When His Wife Died, Charles Remarried

Marie Louis d’Orleans passed away in 1689, and there was no clear successor to the throne. The coup led by John of Austria made the task of securing an heir even more critical, so the court betrothed Charles to Maria Anna of Neuberg. Her family’s claim to fame was that they had a lot of healthy boys, so surely, she would produce an heir.

40 Odd Facts About the Inbred King Charles II of Spain
A portrait of Maria Anna of Neuburg on horseback by Luca Giordano in Prado Museum, Madrid. Wikimedia Commons/ Public Domain.

7. Unfortunately, Charles Was Sterile

Though Maria Anna would become the Queen of Spain, she would hold very little power. Her primary job was to produce a male heir, but this task was something that she would not be able to do. No matter how many healthy boys had been born into her family, nothing could change the fact that Charles was sterile. After his death, his autopsy would reveal that he had only one testicle, and it was shriveled.

40 Odd Facts About the Inbred King Charles II of Spain
Part of Heidelberg Castle, where Maria Anna was born, burned by the French in 1689 and never rebuilt. Malis/ Wikimedia Commons/ Public Domain.

6. Trouble Brewed Between Spain and Austria

Maria Anna was from the other Habsburg stronghold, the Austrian Empire. Seeing as her only job was to produce a male heir for Spain, and she was unable to fulfill this role, though, he became a political pawn in a growing family feud between the Spanish and Austrian Habsburgs. She was loyal to her Austrian family, and her husband had to banish some of her German attendants.

40 Odd Facts About the Inbred King Charles II of Spain
Coat of arms as Queen Consort (1689-1700). Heralder/ Avilés, José de Avilés, Marqués de (1780). Ciencia heroyca, reducida a las leyes heráldicas del blasón, Madrid: J. Ibarra, (Madrid: Bitácora, 1992)/ Wikimedia Commons.

5. Maria Anna Couldn’t Get a Break

When Charles II died without an heir, the line of Habsburg succession in Spain came to an end. Maria Anna had to move around to different places but could not escape the escalating feud between the Austrian and Spanish Habsburgs. She finally fell out of the spotlight, moved to France, and married a barrel-maker. Classic celebrity trying to live life on her own terms.

40 Odd Facts About the Inbred King Charles II of Spain
French stage actress Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) as Queen in Victor Hugo’s Ruy Blas. Wikimedia Commons/ Public Domain.

4. Maria Ana Was an Inspiration for One of Victor Hugo’s Novels

The French novelist Victor Hugo, who wrote classics like Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, depicted the life of Maria Anna in a play called Ruy Blas. It is about a queen (presumably Maria Anna) who married a commoner. Ultimately, though, the play is a tragedy, meaning everyone dies at the end.

40 Odd Facts About the Inbred King Charles II of Spain
Philip IV of Spain by Diego Velázquez in 1644. Wikimedia Commons/ Public Domain.

3. Inbreeding Made Charles’ Family Tree Complicated

Charles’ father was Philip IV of Spain, and his mother was Mariana. The two were paternal cousins, as well as uncle and niece. This means that Charles was not only their son; he was also his father’s great-nephew, his mother’s first cousin, and his father’s second cousin. Complications like that one were common among the Habsburgs.

40 Odd Facts About the Inbred King Charles II of Spain
Philip IV’s most prominent favourite and minister, the Count-Duke Olivares, by Diego Velázquez. Wikimedia Commons/ Public Domain.

2. Superstition About King Charles’ Health Problems

Though Charles’ impotence was almost certainly due to his inbreeding, various people were called to court to try to figure out the “true cause.” An astrologer suggested that when his father died (when Charles was three), he did not give him a proper good-bye. His mother actually had Philip IV exhumed so that Charles could bid him a fitting farewell. Needless to say, the effort didn’t work.

40 Odd Facts About the Inbred King Charles II of Spain
Spanish gold coin minted in 1700, the last year of the reign of Charles II. Numismática Pliego/ Wikimedia.

1. King Charles’ Autopsy Was Sensationalized

People loved to speculate about Charles’ poor health during his lifetime, and rumors abounded as to the cause of El Hechizado’s deformities. When a doctor performed the autopsy on his body, he declared that the king’s body had no blood, that his intestines had rotted, that his brain was waterlogged, and that he had just one shriveled testicle. People ate the story up.

 

Where Did We Find This Stuff? Here Are Our Sources:

“King Charles II of Spain.” Wikipedia.

“42 Fiery Facts About Charles II, The Bewitched King Of Spain,” by Matthew Burke. Factinate. December 21, 2018.

“The Strange Life of Charles II Of Spain”. Ranker.

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