Succession is very important for every royal family and having an heir is crucial in ensuring the continuity of any dynasty. King Charles II of Spain is widely remembered for his inability to have an heir to sit on his throne, which made him the last known descendant of the Habsburg royal family.
History also remembers this king for the very bitter fight for the throne that ensued after his death. Among other things, Charles helped to stabilize the economy of Spain when the nation was bankrupt, and he prevented a lot of wars during his short reign by granting independence to territories hitherto under Spain’s control.
Charles II of Spain was born on November 6, 1661, in Madrid, Spain. His father was the monarch King Philip IV of Spain, and his mother was Mariana of Austria; he had 2 sisters – Margaret Theresa and Maria Theresa. Being the only son of King Philip, Charles was destined for the throne; find out more interesting facts about him below.
Things You Didn’t Know About Charles II of Spain
1. He Battled Numerous Health Challenges
The Habsburg lineage understood the power and privileges that prestigious marriage brings. To preserve this privilege within them, there was a lot of inbreeding within their families, and several decades and generations down the line, the weaknesses in their genes began to multiply and manifest as they gave birth progressively to weaker children with multiple health complications.
Charles was a product of such in-breeding as his father actually married his niece. He was epileptic, suffered memory loss, was disabled and couldn’t walk until he was about 8. That’s not all, his jaw and dentition weren’t well-formed, which made it very difficult for him to talk and eat.
2. His Mother Was Accused of Practicing Witchcraft
The Queen Regent, Mariana, and King Charles’ first wife, Marie, were never the best of friends. Mariana believed that Marie was controlling his son and stirring his heart against her. So when Marie who had gone horseback riding during the day suddenly developed stomach problems in the evening and died shortly after, many believed that the Queen Regent had her poisoned for her human ritual sacrifice.
3. Charles Was Sterile
King Charles II of Spain didn’t have an heir from his two wives during his lifetime, regardless of all that was done for him to produce an heir. Initially, it was believed that his wives were not fertile, but events later proved that Charles himself was the reason behind his inability to have a son to take over from him. Impotence was one of the many health complications and challenges he suffered throughout his lifetime.
4. Charles II of Spain Never Had a Realistic Portrait
Charles’ medical challenges were so severe that his face was really not pleasant to behold. Whenever a new artist was commissioned by the palace to draw or paint the monarch, they usually tone down his displeasing facial appearance and portray him more appealingly. Though the famous “Habsburg jaw” was always shown, all other facial features were always enhanced.
5. He Had Troubled Marriages
The Habsburg family wanted to keep hold of power and forge alliances with other powerful nations, so they married a French wife for Charles; she was Marie Louise d’Orleans and love was far from the reason for their marriage. Though she was said to have detested the idea of getting married to Charles, she still went ahead with the arrangements and got married to him in 1679. In fact, Charles was so sick that he couldn’t attend his own wedding. She was lonely throughout the union, exasperated by Charles’ sterility and poor health. She could not bear him an heir until she died under mysterious circumstances in 1689.
The same year Marie d’Orleans died, another marriage was arranged for King Charles with the hope that his new bride (Maria Anna of Neuberg) would bear him an heir, but unfortunately, she never did.
6. He Came from a Complicated Family
Charles II of Spain was born into a complicated family with one of the most complex family trees you’d ever find. Charles was his father’s son, first cousin, and great-nephew! His father was his mother’s uncle and all of his great-grandparents had the same parents – Philip I and Joanna of Castile.
7. His Death and Strange Autopsy Report
Charles never really aged gracefully, he died on November 1, 1700; he was just a few days away from marking his 39th birthday. In his late 20’s and early 30’s, Charles was already showing signs of old age and was going bald. He never really enjoyed the best of health when he was alive, but some of the reports that emanated from the doctors after his demise were really unpleasant. The doctor who carried out his autopsy noted that his blood had dried up as at the time of death, his head was filled with fluid, his heart was very small and his intestines were already decomposing before he died.