Thursday, November 6, 2014

Carlos el Hechizado

Today is the birthday of two Spanish monarchs that I am particularly interested in. I celebrate Queen Juana of Castile's 535th birthday, whose story I have before told. My post today is dedicated to King Carlos II, who is today 353.

On November 6th, 1661, Queen Mariana gave birth to a presumably healthy baby boy. His name was Carlos. The innocent infant was blissfully unaware of his being born into the House of Habsburg, an incredibly powerful family. But like almost all powerful things, this family had their weakness: pride. The Habsburgs feared mixing their noble blood with anyone, so they resorted to marrying within the family. (Let's keep in mind it was only relatively recently until marrying your cousin was considered immoral.) Indeed, Carlos's mother and father were uncle and niece as well. It wouldn't be long until the Habsburgs saw the results of these continuous incestuous marriages....

Years passed, and by the years, Carlos was older, but by development he was still an infant. Carlos began to speak at the age of four. Not long after, his father, King Philip IV, passed away, leaving his four-year-old son as the only heir to the Spanish throne, and his widow as regent. The boy still couldn't walk on his own, and feeding him was a nightmare given his enormous under-bite. (The under-bite was a very prominent characteristic of the Habsburg family. It was so large that many Habsburgs were unable to chew. Carlos II's under-bite, however, was by-far the worst case.) Carlos's legs were feeble, unable to support his body as he grew older, and his body in general was very fragile and meek. It was at eight years old when he finally was able to walk without full support. The family was very careful with this child. They did not want to stress him, so they gave him very little schooling. Not only was Carlos physically handicapped, but mentally he was too. Because of this he was called “el Hechizado,” “the bewitched.” I believe the only thing truly bewitched is the treatment towards him.

Marie Louise of Orléans, petite-fille de France, arrived at the Spanish court in 1679, waiting to meet her betrothed. When she saw her eighteen-year-old fiancé, who was pitifully lame and deformed, she cried. She loathed Carlos. However, he adored her and was glad to have her in his company. After they married, they were unable to ever have a child, which caused Marie great stress. Marie absolutely hated court life in Spain, and the court hated her as well. More than once there was a riot outside of her home. It was not long until she passed away. Carlos grieved over the loss of his beloved wife. In 1689, the King wedded Maria Anna of Neuburg, a German noblewoman. She, too, was repulsed by her innocent husband, and she despised the Spanish court. Not to mention she hated her mother-in-law.

The economy of Spain had crumbled during this time, and Carlos was put on a lot of pressure to fix this problem. He just couldn't take it anymore, and he practically retired. His epilepsy started to act up during this period, giving him fits which contributed to his becoming deaf. He grew blind as well, and lost almost all of his teeth. He finally passed away on November 1st, 1700, at the age of thirty-eight. Before his death he said, “many people tell me I am bewitched and I well believe it; such are the things I experience and suffer.” (Source) If only he wasn't born into royalty... he would have lived a happier, simpler life around people who cared. I am sure he is in a better place now.

Luckily, Carlos did not live to see the gruesome war that followed, the War of the Spanish Succession.


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