Why was Charles II of Spain called ‘the Bewitched’?

Charles II of Spain (originally in Spanish, Carlos II) was born on the 6th December 1661, in the Royal Alcázar of Madrid. He became king of Spain when his father, Philip IV, died in 1665, and reigned until his death in 1700. Due to his young age, Charles II first became a monarch under the regency of his mother. In 1675, when he reached the legal age according to that time’s standards, he acquired full sovereignty. It was not an easy reign, and his life was not easy either.

Charles II the Bewitched was always sick as a kid. He struggled with several physical conditions and had difficulties learning. In fact, when his father passed, many people believed that Charles II would not live much longer, and other European countries were already planning how to take advantage of the situation. However, the king would remain on the throne until the end of the century, even though some sustain that he did so while being completely bewitched.

Possessed, bewitched, cursed… what happened to Charles II of Spain?

Portrait of Charles II of Spain

Portrait of Charles II of Spain. | Malopez 21, Wikimedia

The last Spanish ruler from the House of Habsburg was cursed twice. First, because his poor health tormented him his whole life. Second, because he was unable to produce an heir. Regarding these facts, as time passed by many came to a conclusion: the king must be bewitched. It must also be noted that this theory was quite convenient for those who wanted to grab a piece of the Spanish crown as soon as he died.

It is also interesting to know that the very monarch believed there was something wrong with his soul. Hence, he sought the aid of confessors, friars, monks and even exorcists to find an explanation for the devil’s presence in his life, as well as a solution to address such a critical situation. According to reports from back then, the devil manifested through some nuns, who were also possessed, to confirm that Charles II was, in fact, haunted by a curse that prevented him from both producing an heir and governing.

It was an Italian friar who, years later, developed a different theory regarding the health issues of the monarch: he was not possessed by the devil, but only bewitched. He pointed at a small bag Charles II always wore around his neck. They later revealed the disturbing content of the bag: toenails and hair, among other essential ingredients of any respectable spell. The king could not remember who gave him this mysterious bag.

Years went by as Charles II of Spain was subject to research and exorcisms, but neither his health nor his inability to produce an heir were fixed. Charles II the Bewitched died with no heirs, and the last Spanish Habsburg has well earned his own nickname since then.

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