The night of October 31 is just around the corner, and with it, an immense parade of ingenious and terrifying costumes, an unmistakable sign of the popular Halloween party. The Celtic festival has more and more followers within Europe, and that is why in our country there are many young people who Night of the Dead They are characterized by grotesque characters and go out to the streets in order to have fun and spend a terrifying night.
This custom with little roots in Spain, assumes that the costumes of properly autochthonous figures do not proliferate and that in most cases, they have to be importedfictional characters American and UK such as Jack the Ripper, Freddy Krueger, Leatherface (the monstrous sociopath from the well known movie, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre).
However, throughout the history of Spain, there have been personalities with such extremely grotesque features that it was thought that these deformations were the cause of some spell. It is the case of King Charles II “The Bewitched”, Which owes its nickname to this exaggerated credulity that prevailed in the Counter-Reform Spain of the 17th century and that despite being a state faithful to the Christian faith, it gave an excessive value to superstition and esotericism.
While within your means, the last king of the Austrian dynasty He was neither a bad monarch nor a bad Christian, it should be emphasized that his chances were, sadly, very slim. He was born on November 6, 1661 as sole successor to the House of Austria after the tragic and untimely death of his brother and former crown prince, Philip the Prosperous. The weight of the Spanish crown therefore fell on this infant of uncertain health.
Such were the concerns that the Court harbored about the child's future, that they made the mistake of hide the newborn from anyone who was outside the House. This strong secrecy in which the Crown was unintentionally turned around, gave way to certain rumors that cast doubt on the child's gender, even claiming that he had been born female and not male.
It had to be a special envoy of the King of France who finally convinced Philip IV to introduce his son to society. The report that this ambassador made describing the future king, did not favor the Spanish Court at all and was far from the portrait published by official sources. These were the words that the Gallic emissary wrote: “The prince appears to be extremely weak. He has two herpetic eruptions on both cheeks. The head is completely covered with scabs. For two or three weeks, a draining canal or drain has formed under his ear. We couldn't see this, but we found out through another channel. The hat, cleverly arranged for this purpose, did not allow this part of the face to be seen”(Poyato, 2000).
And is that Carlos II suffered throughout his life multiple diseases and certain signs of oligophrenia, which made their existence a real ordeal. He was a stunted young man with motor retardation, a large head due to hydrocephalus and intestinal disorders. At the age of three the bones of his skull had not yet fully formed and he had not learned to walk.
She continued suckling until she was four years old, and had 14 broodwives. Your facial prognathism (advancement of one jaw with respect to the other) typical of the Habsburgs, although in him it was even more pronounced, it prevented him from chewing properly and that caused him great stomach problems. He did not learn to read and write until he was nine years old and his progress was completely questionable, as confirmed by his uncertain lines and irregular handwriting. His poor health, his melancholy and his lack of energy became the object of ridicule by the people, and gave rise to numerous popular songs and satires. One of them read like this:
«The Prince, apparently,
so flimsy and leggy
he is the son of smuggling
Well, you can't have it.
However, despite his multiple physical deficiencies, the young monarch never shirked his royal duties and on November 19, 1679 he married Maria Luisa of Orleans with the firm intention of giving a legitimate successor to the Crown. They say that on the way to Spain, María Luisa, knowing what she expected, because she had been able to observe her husband's unattractive appearance from the portraits that had been sent to him, tried to delay the advance of the procession to avoid the meeting.
Although once married, It is known that Charles II was an attentive and affectionate husband that showered his wife with affection. Henry Kamen adds, about how the wedding night of the kings must have been, that “All we know is that Carlos seemed delighted and that the queen had no complaints whatsoever”.
But despite the monarch's many attempts, could not beget any heir to succeed him on the throne, nor with Maria Luisa of Orleans, nor with his second wife Mariana of Neoburg, with which he celebrated new nuptials after the death of his first wife. It was as a result of these misfortunes that he began to blacken as powerless, and there were so many allusions to his lack of virility that even the king himself came to believe that had been bewitched.
In 1698 he put the case in the hands of the Inquisitor General, Brother Tomás de Rocabertí (photograph) and of his royal confessor, the Dominican Froilán Díaz. Both religious, convinced that the devil was tormenting the soul of the king in life, began studies that they would conclude that the young king had been bewitched at the age of 14 as follows: someone would have dissolved in chocolate (knowing how much the monarch liked that sweet) the brains of a dead man so that the King would become ill, and also the kidneys so that he could not beget.
In light of those results, they undertook a series of exorcisms Aided by a Savoyard Capuchin named Fray Mauro Tenda, although fortunately the wild and unsuccessful experiments were interrupted in 1699 thanks to the intervention of the new Inquisitor General, Baltasar de Mendoza.
The last descendant of the Austria died on November 1, 1700, at the age of 39, with an incipient bald spot and a body afflicted with premature old age. It was during the preparation of his will that he finally showed his profound concept of the dignity of the Hispanic Monarchy, when, at the difficult moment of deciding the succession, he came out in favor of the option that allowed to preserve the unity of all the territories under a single sovereign, signing his will in favor of the Duke of Anjou on October 3, 1700.
Under this last act he got ensure integrity of the Monarchy, and his biographers, even the most critical, agree that he made a fair and wise decision. In fact, some claim it was the only moment of greatness in his entire life. A French satirical epitaph shares this idea in these lines:
"Here lies Carlos Segundo, king of Spain
who never campaigned
no conquests, no children.
That is how he lived for thirty years
in which such a good prince was seen reign
I had such poor health
that, to put it bluntly
he only made his will "
Maybe Carlos II was not a hit man, nor the protagonist of any American thriller, but there is no doubt that his particular physical appearance and his life linked to exorcisms and necromancy as a remedy to cure his many diseases, are characteristics that can make it a perfect choice for the this year's Halloween costume. No need to look outside, what we have at home.
- Alfonso Mola. M & Martínez Shaw. C, "King's dignity”, 2000, The Adventure of History, number 24.
- Calvo Poyato. C, "The sad kingdom of the Bewitched”, 2000, The Adventure of History, number 24.
- Herrera. TO, "Crowned heads comics”, 2008, Muy Historia, number 16.
- López Alonso. TO, "Charles II, the King whom everyone believed bewitched”.