The life of Manuel Blanco Romasanta was in many ways doomed from the start. He was born on November 8, 1809 and from the moment he emerged from his mother his life was anything but normal. The birth was hard and it took great effort on the part of doctors and Manuel’s mother to have a successful outcome. But the outcome was not nearly as successful as Manuel’s mother and the doctors might have hoped.
Manuel suffered birth defects and by some accounts, it was hard to tell if he was even human. The doctors decided that the “unknown critter” appeared to be female. So Manuel was at first named Manuela. For the first six years of his life, Manuel was dressed and educated in a manner that befitted a young girl. In every aspect of life, Manuela was treated like a little girl. However, at the age of six doctors finally realized that Manuela was really a boy.
Overnight Manuela became Manuel and life changed drastically for the little girl who was now a little boy. His education and treatment changed, his clothes changed and for a young child who was already treated differently for birth defects, this added to an already difficult life. It was never even considered to ask Manuel which he considered himself to be or what exactly led doctors to misunderstand his sex. Though there are some who believe this early confusion contributed to the psychosis that would later afflict Manuel.
Manuel was born into a relatively wealthy and privileged family if one that largely ignored him. He was given a fine education (his education and the attention of his family greatly improved once his gender went from female to male). He was able to read and write at a young age at a time when very few adults were able to do so. His life was far from easy as he was often teased for his appearance and it did not improve in his teens. He was just a few years into his teens when he stopped growing altogether. His height at the time was estimated between 4’6” and 4’11”.
As a grown man, Manuel worked as a tailor. However, he was more known for his stature than for his skills as a tailor. He married and tried to live a normal life. This was short-lived as his wife died unexpectedly in 1833. With the death of his wife, Manuel decided to go on the road and pursue a different lifestyle. He became a traveling salesman and went on the road throughout Spain and Portugal. There were also times that he worked as a guide taking people through the mountains of Castile, Asturias, and Cantabria. But this was where Manuel’s attempt of a life of normalcy ended and it took a very strange turn.