Who was Charles the Second of Spain?


The last representative of the Habsburg dynasty on the Spanish throne was born in Madrid in 1661. Charles II was the son of Philip IV of Spain and his second wife Mariana of Austria, who was his niece.


The Habsburg House was considered the most powerful dynasty in medieval and Renaissance Europe. In the XVI century, representatives of the dynasty had already expanded their influence in the Philippines and America. However, their successful reign had a dramatic end due to problems with inbreeding. The distinguishing features of the Habsburg dynasty were a protruding chin and lips, as well as high mortality among newborns since most marriages were between close relatives.

King Charles II was the most visible victim of prolonged incest. The king had many different diseases from birth, including epilepsy. If the average person in the fifth generation can have up to 32 different ancestors, then Charles II had only ten of them. Due to such strong incest, the appearance of the king was affected. The characteristic Habsburg chin acquired a hypertrophied form in Charles II. The elongated lower jaw and tongue did not allow the king to chew food and express his thoughts accurately. The monarch had an enormous large head with a height of 192 cm. Charles II began to walk and speak very late since he was the long-awaited heir. His brothers and sisters died early, so the king was treated like a baby until the age of 10.

Charles II inherited Spain being in a grave crisis because his father was more involved in court affairs than state ones during the reign. The golden age of Spanish culture was ending, the country’s population was rapidly impoverished, and the state was losing the territories in the fight against France. Rebellions against the despotism of the king rose in many parts of the Spanish possessions. In economics and political terms, Spain was just as sick as the inheritor.

Charles II’s wife, with whom he was deeply in love, helped him not to stay apart from public affairs in Spain. In 1689, Maria Louise died without leaving an heir, and the king being in always painful condition became even weaker. Charles II married a second time, but the couple tried not to notice each other. The king completely stopped participating in the political life of Spain and began to fall into a semi-insane state. Likewise, at this time, he received the nickname of “The Bewitched” (Spanish: El Hechizado).

People close to the court of the king used the weakness of the monarchy and tried to advance their interests in power. Nevertheless, Charles II was not so infantile as to let slide the state of affairs in the country. Realizing his inability to manage the country, he tried to surround himself with active officials. The executives tried to work out economic reforms, but they failed, and the disastrous state of Spain under Charles II worsened.

The king died at the age of 38, which was even too long for people having so many diseases. He did not leave heirs because he was not capable of conceiving. Thus, the most influential ruling dynasty of Europe ceased to exist. Spain was ravaged during the 35-year reign of Charles II. When the king was gone, Spain turned into a second-rate country; it was torn to pieces, which led to the outbreak of the War for the Spanish Succession.

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