|Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor|
While royal marriages were often marriages of convenience to cement an alliance, some families married to keep their family in power and exclude other families from claiming their titles. Basically, any time either a female became the monarch (e.g. Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom) or a king had only daughters, they would be the last ruler of their royal house. If the daughter-princesses married men of other noble families in an alliance and had male children with them, the oldest male child would succeed to the throne when the king died under the name of his father, not his mother and the previous king. Queen Victoria was the last British monarch of the House of Hanover; her husband Prince-Consort Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha passed his name to his children and Edward VII ruled as a member of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Therefore, some families thought if they only married within their own dynasty, they would anchor their family to its dominions for generations to come. Some families were more notorious than others for their close marriages. Dynasties that were especially prominent in their marriages between close relatives included The House of Wittelsbach of Bavaria, the British Royal Family, especially the House of Hanover, and Hapsburg Dynasty, especially the Spanish branch. The Wittelsbachs had aunt-nephew and uncle-niece marriages. The Hanovers married as follows:
- George I married his first cousin Sophia Dorothea of Celle
- George I married his third cousin once removed Caroline of Ansbach
- George III married his second cousin twice removed Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
- George IV married his first cousin Caroline of Brunswick
- William IV married his third cousin once removed Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen
- Victoria married her first cousin Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
|George V sweeps away his German titles.|
|Charles II of Spain, the last Spanish Hapsburg|
The Spanish Hapsburgs intermarried so much that by the time Charles II of Spain (November 6, 1665–November 1, 1700), the last Spanish Hapsburg came to the throne, his ancestor Joanna of Castile showed up in his family tree in 14 unique spots that in most people with a diverse pedigree will have 14 distinct, different people in. Everyone can have a maximum of 32 great-great-great-great-grandmothers. Joanna of Castile showed up 6 times as his great-great-great-great-grandmother leaving him with at most 26 distinct women as his great-great-great-great-grandmothers (although it is probably less, I cannot interpret his family tree enough to calculate it). Perhaps more confusing, one ancestor, Margarita of Austria was his grandmother and great-grandmother at the same time.
King Charles had grave physical and mental illness. It is rumored that at one point in his life he exhumed the bodies of many of his ancestors to have a look at their corpses. It is suspected that he had two rare genetic diseases brought out by remote inbreeding called combined pituitary hormone deficiency and distal renal tubular acidosis. He may have also suffered from acromegaly either instead of or in addition to one or both of the disorders listed above. He also had mandibular prognathism (more on that below).
Charles II was frail and fragile; he couldn't walk until he was eight years old and was by all modern standards retarded (however, he did not have any known trisomy disorders). He was exceptionally unattractive and had a severe lack of intellect and emotional stability. He was most likely sterile and it has been suggested that neither of his marriages, one of which ended in divorce, were ever consummated. His tongue was very large and he his underbite caused him to be unable to chew food. He could barely be understood when he spoke and he drooled on himself. He died young, five days short of his 35th birthday, probably from a heart defect. His lack of an heir (and therefore his inbreeding) directly caused the fourteen-year long struggle that was the War of Spanish Succession, when as many as maybe half a million soldiers went to war to determine who would rule Spain.
|Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor|
|Juan Carlos I of Spain|
it was not poor Charles II's fault that he was born deformed though. His family's avarice for power and wealth and unwillingness to take the risk of sharing that power with outsiders caused him to have less genetic diversity than a child of a brother and a sister. It is always the innocent victims of circumstance and birth that we seem to take pity on and Charles II, who could have had anything as King of Spain during the peak of the Spanish Imperial period but could not even chew his own food, certainly deserves our pity.