30 October 2012

Peculiar Royals in History

The marriage policy of the European Monarchs caused the spreading of hereditary diseases and defects among European Royalty. Around 1900, some Princes of the Royal Houses of Spain, Russia, Prussia and England suffered from haemophilia, a disease of the blood. They were all descendants of the English Queen Victoria (1819-1901). Victoria's grandfather, King George III (1738-1820) went mad as a result of porphyria, a hereditary blood disorder, that causes agonizing painful, gout-like attacks, and sometimes even mental derangement. One of George's ancestors, King Charles VI of France (1368-1422) suddenly killed 4 of his own men before he could be overpowered. Other times, Charles thought he was made of glass and about to break. 

Princesses' feelings were usually ignored. The unhappily married Louise of Belgium tried to run off with count Geza Matacic. The count was imprisoned, and Louise was declared insane and locked up in an asylum. After 4 years, Matacic was finally released and managed to rescued his Princess. At the age of 15, the British Princess Caroline Mathilda (1751-1775) was married to the deranged Christian VII of Denmark (1749-1808). The poor Queen befriended the Prime Minister and they enlightedly ruled Denmark together, until the "wicked stepmother" of the King had them arrested on the accusation of adultery. Caroline Mathilda was divorced and banished. 

This blog, like the website, twitter account and Facebook page is about peculiar Royals in history. In history royal persons were raised with the idea of being a representative of God on earth. The Roman Emperor Caligula (12-41) even thought he was a God: he set up a temple with a life-sized statue of himself in gold, dressed each day in the clothing such as he wore himself. One of his successors, the splendour-loving Emperor Domitian (51-96), insisted on being addressed as "master and god". 

Because Kings and Emperors were absolute rulers, they stood above the law. They could rape whoever they liked and torture and kill whoever they disliked. Of course, most Kings didn't have to rape: women crowded around them. They chose the most beautiful women of their country and made them their mistresses. King George I of Great-Britain (1660-1727), however,
managed to choose the most ugly ones, nicknamed the "Elephant" and the "Maypole". The "Elephant" was most likely his illegitimate half sister! One of the favourite mistresses of August II " the Strong" of Poland (1670-1733) was his own bastard daughter. King João V of Portugal (1689-1750) was so religious that he chose nuns to be his mistresses. 

Although King Philip V of Spain (1683-1746, to the right) had the notorious Bourbon sexual appetite, he didn't want to sin, and remained faithful to his Queen. While she lay dying, he wanted to "enjoy her delights" until the last minute and had to be torn from her deathbed. One of his descendants, Crown Prince Don Felipe (1747-1777), was a particularly distressing imbecile. who used to indecently assault any woman with whom he came in contact. It was rumoured that Queen Juana "The Mad" of Castile (1479-1555) embraced her husband even after his death. When Pedro "the Severe" (1320-1367) was crowned King of Portugal, he had the remains of his late mistress dug up to be crowned as well. The first King of Prussia, Frederick I (1657-1713), loved his second wife dearly. Nevertheless, he took a mistress because he thought it the correct thing for a monarch to do

Other rulers disposed as easily of their wives as they disposed of their mistresses: King Henry VIII of England (1491-1547) had 2 of his 6 wives beheaded. In the night after his 7th wedding, Ivan IV the terrible of Russia (1530-1584) discovered that his new bride was not a virgin anymore. He had her drowned the next day. Sultan Ibrahim I "The Mad" of Turkey (1615-1648) had even less scruples. Once, in a rage, he had his entire harem of 280 women cast into the Bosporus, tied up in weighted sacks. Only one of them managed to escape. 

The Habsburg Kings of Spain descended from Queen Juana "The Mad" of Castile, who was hysterical and prone to fly into rages. Her ancestors increased her inheritance by inbreeding: they preferred to marry their own niece. These incestuous marriages resulted in the mentally and physically handicapped King Carlos II of Spain (1661-1700). He was sadly degenerated with an enormous, misshapen head, the heavy Habsburg chin exaggerated to almost caricature-like proportions, rendering him unable to chew and barely able to speak. 
Although a wrong choice of wife could affect the health of a King's children, a wrong choice of mistress could affect the King's own health. The Dukes of Gonzaga suffered from both options; they had either a hump, inherited from Paola Malatesta of Pesaro (1393-1453), or syphilis. Syphilis has long-term neurological effects from severe lesions, decay, unbearable pain and blindness to senility and death. It was "treated" with mercury and sulphur. From 1500 onwards, many Princes suffered from it. 

For years, Jakobe of Baden (1558-1597), had been in love with a "mere" count, whom she was not allowed to marry. Instead, she was forced to marry Johann Wilhelm (1562-1609), the last mad Duke of Cleves. Johann Wilhelm's elder sister, Maria Eleonore of Cleves (1550-1608), had been married to the last mad Duke of Prussia, Albrecht Friedrich (1553-1618, to the right). Although Albrecht Friedrich was clearly deranged, they were bedded, and she gave birth to 7 children. In the 19th century, the mentally handicapped Ferdinand of Austria (1693-1875) was married to a crying Maria Anna of Sardinia (1803-1884). His uncles had to inform him about what he was supposed to do in his wedding night, but he preferred to wedge himself in a wastepaper basket and roll over and over like a ball.