King Charles II of Spain was the last Habsburg ruler of the Spanish Empire, the Habsburg dynasty. The Royal house of the Habsburgs ruled Spain from 1506 until 1700; it would end with Charles II. Charles was the only surviving son of Mariana of Austria and Philip IV of Spain, Mariana's uncle. It was common for European nobility to ¨keep it in the family, ¨ however, the Habsburgs took this rule to the extreme, which would eventually be their demise.
It has been reported that if the parents of a baby carry the same genetic defect, the chance of the offspring having that defect will double, as well as the risk of infant death and physical and intellectual disabilities. It was common knowledge for years that inbreeding could cause issues, especially in farmers; however, the royals continued, maybe they thought their blood was too pure to be flawed.
Charles was born in 1661, and upon his birth, many stated he would not live long, a sickly baby and child. When he was born, his head was enormous; he could not nurse. Charles did not speak until he was four years and did not walk until he was 8.
He suffered many bronchial infections, measles, and smallpox throughout his childhood. He also reportedly suffered from rickets, hallucinations, and a prominent jaw. Later in his life, he was rumored to be impotent, infertile, and barely able to talk due to his tongue being so large. However, at age 4, he was already a King, with his mother as queen regent.
16 and 17th, Spain was ruled by the Habsburgs, the most extensive empire during its time. Spain was dominant in military and political power and remained in power for 200 years, and it was a great time to be alive, often described as ¨the golden age¨. But, unfortunately, that also meant 200 years of inbreeding within the Habsburgs gene pool.
King Charles II was the last of the Habsburg line, suffering for what his ancestry did to keep the genetic pool, ¨clean¨ and maintain the royal blood in the family; however, what they did not know was that when you inbreed and marry family, all of its genetic mutations would soon manifest and show itself, as it did with King Charles II of Spain.
It is said that the great grandfathers of Charles married their nieces, and another married his cousin. Leaving Charles to be his mother's first cousin and son, and his father was his great-uncle. His grandmother also was his aunt.
The entire line of the Habsburgs could be traced back to two people, King Philip of Castile and Queen Joanna of Castile. Joannas' parents were second cousins, Isabel I, Queen of Castile, and Ferdinand II, King of Aragon. Joanna is also known as Joanna the mad, with historians believing she suffered from many inbreeding conditions, such as depression, bipolar disorder, psychosis, and schizophrenia.
However, her mother tortured her as a teen when she questioned the catholic church. When her husband Philip died, she was rumored to sleep next to his corpse. At this point, Kind Ferdinand had his daughter locked away, where she remained until death.
To say the Habsburg line was not off to a good start, genetically. Their children all married into royal families throughout Europe. The most distinctive feature of the Habsburg men was the prominent jaw, also known as the Habsburg Jaw or Prognathism. It caused many of those sufferings from the deformity the inability to chew their food correctly or close their mouth.
It is believed that King Charles had a pituitary hormone deficiency leading him to be infertile, impotent, and short; King Charles II is also thought to have suffered from distal renal tubular acidosis. It leads to the kidneys being unable to remove acid from the blood to be eliminated by the kidneys, which can cause problems with the normal functioning of cells.
King Charles II of Spain was not depicted as a sickly man in his paintings, the empire had to be continued, and a queen was needed for Charles. The kingdom must appear strong, with an excellent genetic pool. The painters are the stars during his reign.
Charles also had epilepsy, and as he got older, the seizures only got worse. He was always sick with measles, vomiting, and diarrhea and had difficulty eating and chewing his food due to the shape of his Jaw. It is even rumored that he did not chew his food; instead, he swallowed it whole and vomited it back up due to stomach issues.
Even with all his deformities, in good royal fashion, he was married, not once but twice. But, unfortunately, both marriages did not produce an heir. His first wife was Marie Louise of Orleans, his second niece; needless to say, they did not have an heir. She wanted nothing to do with Charles, stating that:
The Catholic King is so ugly as to cause fear, and he looks ill
His second wife was Marie-Anne of Neubourg; together, they did not produce an heir.
In 1698 it was reported that Charles's problems continued to get worse; he was unable to speak and did not have the energy to be out of bed for long periods; he also suffered from swollen hands, feet, and stomach. As a result, many felt he was ¨bewitched¨.
Due to this diagnosis, priests attempted exorcisms and gave him potions to eliminate the hex many thought he was suffering. After his death, an autopsy showed a small heart, corroded lungs, gangrenous intestines, a kidney, three large stones, and a black testicle, and inside his head, they found water.
Due to inbreeding within the Habsburg empire, 30% of the children born into the kingdom died before one year old, and 50% died before age 10—a worse mortality rate than the peasants at the time.
Inbreeding was common among the royals, calling it royal intermarriage. During the 16 and 17th centuries, all of the Habsburgs were intermarried, thinking that it strengthened lines of succession, they were wrong, and it did the exact opposite, causing the Spanish line of the Habsburg Dynasty to die off.
So no matter how wealthy you are, if you marry within the family, it is guaranteed that your family line will end, with the last of your line, most likely suffering during life and the only peace to be felt during death. King Charles died November 1, 1700, 38 years old, with no living heirs—the last of the male heir of the Habsburg empire.