Biography of Príncipe de Asturias Carlos de Austria (1545-1568)

Heir to the throne of Spain, between 1560 and 1568, born 8 July 1545 in Valladolid and died of in the Alcazar of Madrid, the 29 July 1568.

Biographical synthesis

First son of Felipe II and his first wife, María Manuela of Portugal, grew up surrounded by amenities, although it was very distanced from his father since childhood. Weak and sickly, throughout his life had remarkable physical and psychological problems. Recognized as heir to the throne by the Castilian Cortes in 1560, the courts of the Kingdom of Aragon refused to recognize him by not having personally attended the convocation of 1564. That same year he/she was appointed a State Councillor, but Felipe II alarmed by its deep mental imbalances decided to move him from the tasks of Government. July 28, 1568, he/she died in suspicious circumstances, in their rooms of the Alcázar of Madrid.

First years

Born in the early hours of 8 to 9 July, his birth was a great joy to his father, Felipe II, who at that time was Prince of Asturias, since the birth of a son supposed that the continuity of the dynasty was assured. But the joy was short-lived in the Court, because four days later passed away the Princess of Asturias, María Manuela, as a result of childbirth.

The small infant health was very fragile from the first moments of his life, just couldn't move and the Court doctors detected that it suffered a malformation, possibly caused by inbreeding between their parents; It would have as a consequence that this had problems to walk upright, since he/she suffered from a noticeable limp. In addition to these physical problems, Carlos had serious mental problems that hindered the pace of learning, this mode up to three years not uttered its first words and his lifelong stammered when speaking, which resulted in the infant to show is shy and unsociable with people surrounding him and especially his father, he/she hardly regarded due to the multiple occupations of this. With the passage of the years did not improve their situation and their professors, Juan de Manatones and Juan Honorato, had serious difficulties so that the infant had learned to read and write.

Due to its status as an orphan, his father decided that the infant, at first, would be in the care of one of the ladies of the deceased empress Isabel, Leonor de Mascareñas, which had its full confidence to have been her nanny. When the Prince could walk he/she made in the care of the Sisters of Felipe II, María and Juana of Austria, which surrounded the small attentions. After the marriage of María to the Archduke Maximiliano II, Juana de Austria took over the care of his nephew, becoming his companion of games, until he/she married the heir to the throne of Portugal, infante Juan Manuel. It should be noted also the remarkable participation that took care of the Prince his guardian, Antonio de Rojas, which every week sent a detailed report to Felipe II on the progress of the Prince and on activities of daily living that filled his life. But despite all the attention that was the character of Carlos worsened over the years, increasingly it became more unpleasant and violent, and there were many complaints of his servants in this sense, only seemed to feel a predilection for his tia Juana, which was considered as a second mother, but did not spare that to abandon him to contract marriage.

In 1560, Carlos was recognized as heir to the throne of Castile, by the mentioned Kingdom courts, but their State of health worsened considerably since this year it started having successive attacks of fever that forced him to stay in bed-ridden. For this reason the King postponed his trip to the Kingdom of Aragon, where courts, should take place also since doctors recommended that this does not make the long trip to monsoon. Despite the sensitivity of their State of health, Carlos refused to follow the directions of their doctors who urged you watch your diet, since it was prone to excesses, and to perform exercises that contribute to the strengthening of their legs. The young Carlos increasingly showed himself more violent and haughty to the monarch, although by this time Felipe II pardon him and trusted that time his son would be the height of the circumstances. After suffering a new relapse, his father began studying his possible transfer to the Kingdom of Valencia, where the climate could favour its recovery, but was ruled out this option for being too far from the Court, so after some discussion was thought in Alcalá de Henares, where the infant would be guarded by don Juan of Austria and by Alejandro Farnesio, both studying at University.

Carlos arrived in Alcalá de Henares in the year 1561 and settled along with his uncle and his cousin in the Palace that the Archbishop of Toledo had in this town. Prince hardly paid attention to his studies and made increasingly more excesses, leading him to worsen his delicate state of health, although apparently it was better since it had not suffered any attack of fever. But the situation would soon change, on April 19, 1562 suffered a serious accident after falling down the stairs when I went in pursuit of the daughter of one of the employees of the Palace. Their status was considered very serious and many were those who thought would not survive, so his father began to make preparations for his funeral. Carlos attended by the best doctors of the Court was not experiencing any improvement and after the lack of these resources, which were have a trepanation, Felipe II decided to resort to a prestigious Valencian physician, Pinterete, that finally, due to its solid knowledge of Arabic medicine, achieved the recovery of the Prince. After its re-establishment Felipe II decided to personally monitor your child for what moved him back to Madrid.

Problems with Felipe II

Clashes between father and son were constant from 1562 to 1564, as Felipe II did not understand their child's behavior and his lack of control, and on numerous occasions had to rebuke him publicly, which increased the resentment that Carlos felt towards his father.

The situation began to worsen from the year 1564, the Prince of Asturias, had nearly twenty years, began to protest by not to occupy any position in the administration of the Kingdom. His father showed himself undecided in this regard due to doubts that housed about the ability of his son, enough as an example note that years before, in 1559, had promised their subjects of Flanders send to Carlos as Governor, but eventually due to the complicated situation decided to send Luis of Requesens. The heir to the throne is angered each day and his father reproached his lack of confidence. Finally Felipe II decided to appoint him as Minister of State, but this decision increased the anger of his son, who was soon aware that important decisions were taken directly by his father and that the Council was a consultative body, almost without any authority.

The trip made by Felipe II, that same year, Aragon where the King could not get that courts recognized to Carlos as heir to the throne, since the nobles considered an affront that had not been personally, increased the distance between Felipe II and his son. Carlos directly blamed his father for not having obtained confirmation of the above courts, while the monarch attempted to justify his absence, claiming his delicate state of health. Felipe II doubted Carlos situation improves and decided to paralyze the marriage negotiations initiated with his cousin Maximiliano II, so his son enter into marriage with the daughter of Anne of Austria. It also seems that the King was aware of the succession problem, since it did not consider that Carlos could be responsible for the Government of their kingdoms to his death. Carlos after knowing this situation, began to conspire against his father, but his mind was increasingly less lucid and their plans to shoot down Felipe II power were completely crazy.

The death of Carlos and the home of theBlack legend

The mental instability of Carlos increased at times and increasingly became more distrustful, so ordered to install a safety device in their rooms of the Alcázar to avoid being killed while he/she slept. He/She also suffered attacks of anxiety and sometimes had shown certain tendencies maniaco-depresivas. At the end of 1567 the situation became untenable, Carlos said the Prince of Eboli with its new plan to seize power. This time the situation was a grave danger to the stability of the monarchy, since it seems that it had held some talks with the rebels of Flanders, which the Government of the territory had been offered to finally shake off the control of the Spanish monarch. So when Carlos started to borrow money from prominent nobles to escape from Spain, Felipe II who knew point-by-point plans, decided to put a stop to the madness of his son. So after communicate to the State Council the grave situation, the 18 January 1568, decided to lock up Carlos in his quarters to avoid that you commits an irreparable error. The Prince, during the months that lasted its closure, was more and more unbalanced and tried to repeatedly commit suicide, prompting his father to take extra precautions, also suffered from serious eating disorders and slowly his health it was degrading. Finally, Carlos died July 29, 1568, at the age of twenty-three years. The causes of his death are unknown, although according to the official version, issued by the own monarch, his son had died of natural causes due to his delicate state of health.

The arrest of the Prince in the Alcázar sparked many theories in all the courts of Europe, since no one could or wanted to understand the reasons of Felipe II. The death of the infant in circumstances unleashed a harsh campaign of vilification towards the monarch, many were those who thought that Carlos had been murdered by her father, and this gave rise to the so-called black legend. In this way the Protestants, with Guillermo de Orange head, claimed that the real cause of the death of the heir had been the jealousy of the King, since this had surprised his wife, Isabella of Valois, with Carlos and not had been able to forgive the infidelity of both. Felipe II was also accused by some of their most prominent enemies, among them his former Secretary Antonio Pérez, was that supported the theory of murder by poisoning. Finally, there are the historians of the seventeenth century threw the theory of the death of Carlos for reasons of State, the sense of duty of the monarch would prevent him from leaving the Government of their kingdoms in the hands of a madman.


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