Insane in Spain - royal highlights

Cruel Don Carlos

Madrid for kids

Don Carlos of Spain (1545-1568) was deformed from birth; hunchbacked and pigeon-breasted with shoulders of uneven height and his right leg considerably shorter than the left.  He was also retarded and slow in both his physical and mental development.  Sickly, he often had fevers.  He spoke in a high-pitched, girlish voice, and stuttered badly.  He displayed indiscriminately aggressive and impulsively violent behaviour.
Don Carlos' parents were double first cousins.  Due to the incestuous marriages of his immediate ancestors, Don Carlos had only 4 great-grandparents, instead of the usual 8, and two of them were sisters.  Juana 'the Mad' and Maria of Castile.  At that time Juana the Mad (1479-1555) was still alive, shut away in the castle of Tordesillas.  

Breast Biter
Even as a little boy Don Carlos had been difficult and would bite the breasts of his wet-nurses, three of them nearly died of the resulting wound.  At five he finally started talking but couldn't pronounce the letters 'r' and 'l'.
Animal torturer
bit headoff snake.  By the time he was 9 he tortured little girls, servants and animals.  His temper was wild and unpredictable.  Once he went into the stable and maimed the horses so severely that twenty of them had to be destroyed.  He was fond of roasting small animals alive, especially hares.  Once he bit the head off a ring-snake.
He nearly died after he stumbled down dark stairs and suffered a great gaping wound in his head.  He was carried to his bed unconscious.  His head swelled to enormous proportions and he lost his sight completely.  A surgeon performed a trepanning, in vain.  Dad, King Philip II hurried home and spent his days and nights in prayer and called in quacks, while Don Carlos raved in delirium.

Don Carlos in bed with dead saint
Then the Franciscan monks brought in their precious relic, the remains of the holy Fray Diego who had died a hundred years before.  The holy mummy was put in the bed with the sick Prince.  That night Don Carlos dreamed of the blessed Diego, and from that time his pulse steadied and he gained strength gradually.
Derangement Worsens
Eventually he was able to walk into the next room, but he was never the same again.  He began exhibiting new signs of derangement.  At first, the only results of the fall were silence and a strange solemnity, alternated with most peculiar and meaningless questions.Later, his conduct grew increasingly erratic, violentand sadistic.  Notorious were his tantrums and rages.

Shoemaker eats shoes
A shoemaker who presented Don Carlos with a pair of boots that were not to his liking, was forced to cut up the boots and eat them.

Swallows diamond ring
In confinement Don Carlos went on hunger strikes and was force-fed with soup.  Then he started swallowing things - even a diamond ring.  His general behaviour became more disturbed.   Guilty of treason
In 1568 found Don Carlos guilty of treason for he had plotted the death of his father the King, and had conspired to become sovereign of Flanders.  Don Carlos was seized with a raging fever and incessant vomiting.  He poured ice water on the floor of his prison chamber so that he might lie naked in it.  Snow was brought to him.  For days he ate only fruit.  Then he asked for a pastry.  An enormous, highly spiced pie was made for him and he devoured it all and drank more than 10 litres of water with it.  Afterwards, he became violently ill.  When the last sacrament was

Son wants Dad dead
In 1567 King Philip II allowed his 22-year-old heir to preside over the state council but Don Carlos caused chaos.  Then he tried to involve his illegitimate uncle Don Juan in a plot, but Don Juan informed the King.  Around the same time Don Carlos told his confessor that he wanted to kill 'a man' and everything suggested that this 'man' was Philip II.  The King had no choice but to put his son in confinement, dead to the world.  It was forbidden to mention Don Carlos in conversation or even in prayers.  If fact he died a year after confinement, some say he was poisoned but it is most likely that the frail man died from natural causes.

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