Popular Science Monthly/Volume 62/December 1902/Mental and Moral Heredity in Royalty V

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1413565Popular Science Monthly Volume 62 December 1902 — Mental and Moral Heredity in Royalty V1902Frederick Adams Woods





THE early history of its great family is coincident with the history of the rise of Spain's greatness as a nation. Whatever value other factors may have had in producing Spain's glory the presence of the long line of great rulers and warriors must have been one of the greatest. This influence of the great leaders could make itself felt then, even more than now.

Within a short time we have had an example in Lord Roberts of what genius for generalship can accomplish in the turn of events. How much greater impress on his times the great man must have made in those medieval days when the masses knew almost nothing!

I know of no other direct line, except the then reigning one in Portugal, where greatness was maintained for so long a period, nor has there appeared any other than these two dynasties, where vigorous and distinguished blood was so continuously introduced into the stock. Portugal was five times united with the best of the stock of Spain to its evident advantage. Spain took wives three times from Portugal. Two of these, the marriage of Ferdinand II. of Leon (d. 1187) and Ferdinand IV. (d. 1317), were of great benefit. The third was valuable as far as the introduction of Portugal's blood was concerned, but happened to be very unwise, because it brought back again in a double way the cruel traits of Sancho IV. which resulted in producing Pedro 'the Cruel' whose tyrannies amounted almost to madness.

There are a few exceptions among the noble characters, such as the cruel tyrants just referred to, whose traits will be seen to be evidently caused by heredity. Still for twenty-one generations in the direct male line of Castile from Sancho II. in the tenth century to Charles Quint, the greatest ruler of his time (d. 1558), there were only four who did not possess a high degree of strength and ability. These were Alfonso IX., Ferdinand IV., John I. of Castile and Ferdinand I. of Aragon.

The first two of these were in the early centuries. John I. of Castile and Ferdinand I. of Aragon were father and son, who lived in the period just before the time of Ferdinand and Isabella.

There were two others, also father and son, who ruled over Castile at about this same time, who were exceedingly weak. These were John II. and Henry IV. They are not in the direct line under discussion at present, but it is interesting to see that John II. was a grandson of John I. just noted for his weaknesses and the causes of this temporary running out and subsequent rejuvenation in Ferdinand and Isabella will be discussed later.

During the early centuries of Christian Spain the conditions of the times were such that every sovereign was obliged to defend his right to the throne against the jealousies of his family, so that almost constant wars were being waged among the nearest kin and it was practically impossible that several generations of weak and incompetent kings should not have been wrested from the throne. This factor of natural selection undoubtedly did much to insure the strength of the stock.

The long minorities of the sovereigns of Castile and Aragon which occurred time and again during these centuries have always been considered by all historians as one of her greatest misfortunes, leading to intrigues, civil wars and disasters; affairs being put in a healthy condition again only when the king himself was old enough to take things in his own hands.

This and the fact that the country invariably gained ground under good rulers and just as certainly lost under weak ones make it evident how much more important the king was in those days and under those conditions than he has been in England, for instance, where the progress has been due to the people as a whole, especially her aristocracy and upper classes.[1]

Such a long line of great rulers as this, such an almost unbroken repetition of great physical and mental strength is almost unparalleled, save by Portugal, in all history. If there is much in heredity it must certainly be necessary here to show that the dynasty was continually maintained by the introduction of just such great qualities either from the best part of its own stock or from outside families.

We can discuss twenty marriages in the direct line. The following fourteen can be seen to have introduced stock equally vigorous and able. These fourteen are those of Sancho II., Ferdinand I. of Leon, Alfonso VI., Ferdinand II., Alfonso IX., Ferdinand IV., Alfonso II., Henry III., Don John II. of Aragon, Ferdinand and Isabella, Johanna 'the Mad.' These were scattered along the course and sufficiently account for the perpetuation of the strain. Many of these unions were remarkably good, being well backed on all sides. Of the other six, four were 'obscure,' tending that much to dilute the distinguished qualities.

There was one, the marriage of Alfonso VI., that was distinctly bad, as its average value was incapable as well as vicious. The remaining one introduced mostly poor stock but had a small element of goodness in it. I refer to the marriage of John the First of Castile. Half the pedigree of Henry II. of Transtama and of Alfonso VI. are uncertain for different reasons, as will appear.

Beginning now with the most ancient times let us take up the character of each sovereign and discuss the effect on the breed of blood introduced in the marriage of each. Sancho I. by his courage and mental and physical energy extended his dominion in all directions. He reduced important fortresses on both banks of the Ebro, recovered Eioja and conquered the country from Tudela to Najera, Tarragona and Agreda, and the mountain districts surrounding the sources of the Duero. He was also prudent and pious by nature and his conquests were retained throughout his life by the wisdom of his acts. He died in 994.

Sancho married Urraca, daughter of Ferdinand, belonging to the same stock. They had a son Garcias, called 'the Trembler,' about whom little is known with certainty except that he won battles and apparently he was a successful warrior. The name of 'Trembler' was applied to him because before battle, as he himself put it, 'My body trembles before the danger to which my courage is about to expose it.' The pedigree of his wife, Ximenia, is unknown to me, but from this time on to the present, the descent of the female side can be shown with very satisfactory completeness, and it is these pedigrees which show that qualities were infused in the stock all the way down the line, sufficient to keep up the elements of greatness which never ran out in Spain until the death of the Emperor Charles Quint. After this the worst possible unions were made, and then Spain fell.

Sancho III., who died in 1035, was the son of the 'Trembler.' He must have had great ability for war and government, as he made himself the most powerful prince of his age and country. He married Nunnia, the heiress of Castile, who belonged to a powerful family. He held what he got by inheritance and marriage and even extended his dominions by conquest. He was called 'the Major,' or 'the Great.'

Sancho III. was followed by his son, Ferdinand I. He had high abilities and virtues and made himself the most powerful among many monarchs in Spain. He also is called in history 'the Great.' He married a daughter of Alfonso V. of Leon, a successful soldier and ruler and the son of the valiant Bermudo II., who had won distinction by defeating the Moors.

Ferdinand died in 1065. His son, Alfonso VI., was a great warrior and called 'the Valiant.' Alfonso VI. allied himself to an outside stock. He married a daughter of Robert, Duke of Burgundy. It does not appear that her ancestors were especially distinguished, except that her great-grandfather was Hugh Capet. This can not be classed among the brilliant marriages from the present point of view, as the great qualities are so remote.

Their daughter, Urraca, became queen. She was overbearing and tyrannical in her conduct, with morals of very questionable repute. Her mind was of a light and trivial order, though her ambition was as great as it was unprincipled. 'She left to posterity a character darkened by many crimes and scarcely redeemed by a single virtue.' Her reign, 1109-1126, was fortunately for her people a short one, but she succeeded in keeping the country embroiled in family feuds. (Dunham, 'Spain,' II., 162.) Urraca is the first one in the group who had any such traits. On searching for character of her mother's people, who must have introduced these qualities if they came by heredity, I found them amply accounted for in her grandfather and his mother. Robert, Duke of Burgundy, her grandfather, is described in a short column in the 'Biog. Univer.,' most of which tells of his violent temper. His mother, Constance, was a 'wicked intriguer,' and instigated his revolting from his weak and peace-loving father, King Robert of France. 'Robert (the Duke) had a most violent temper and was capable in the excesses of his anger of the most atrocious extremes.' He showed no application to affairs of state and abandoned the government to cruel and incompetent ministers. Queen Urraca married Raymond, Count of Burgundy. He was not at all distinguished, nor were his family.

The successor of the notorious Queen Urraca was Alfonso VII., who luckily did not repeat his mother's character. Unfortunately for our purpose we cannot be sure of his father, owing to the licentiousness of the Queen. The characteristics of this son and his effect on the country may be well shown by quoting Dunham, 'History of Spain and Portugal,' II., 165:

Alfonso was no common monarch. Though he lost Portugal and was unable to withstand the genius of his namesake of Aragon, whom he imitated in assuming the imperial title, yet with fewer pretensions, though he is undeserving the exaggerated praises of the national historians, it cannot be denied that he exhibited great firmness in circumstances often very difficult, that he caused his territory to be respected by his Christian neighbors and greatly aggrandized it at the expense of the Mohammedans. His talents, however, were inferior to his ambition, and his moderation to both.

If this Alfonso VII. had wedded only average qualities it is probable that the ancient greatness of the race would have run out, but what happened is unusual in the story of families. Just at the time when it is weakened by dilution it is again strengthened by the qualities of a great man. The wife of Alfonso was the daughter of Raymond Berengaria III. (d. 1131), Count of Provence, a prudent sovereign who extended his dominions by inheritance, marriage and victory, ruled fifty years and actually carried his conquests across the sea to the shores of Majorica and made successful wars against the Arabs.

The product of this union was Ferdinand II. (1187) of Leon. He was a very able general and had many estimable and generous personal qualities. He made a marriage calculated to perpetuate the great qualities of his stock, that with Urraca, daughter of Alfonso I., the great founder of Portugal, who by consulting the Portugal chart may be seen to be backed up by distinguished fathers and grandfathers and to have himself derived in part his genius for war from the same stock of Spain already discussed, namely, Alfonso VI. 'the Valiant.'

However, Alfonso IX., his son, was without distinguished qualities or virtues. Coming as he does at the union of greatness he must be counted as an exception. Still the genius of the race does not die here. His marriage was one of the very best. His wife, Berengaria, was a famous heroine of Spanish history. She was a truly great and noble woman. Not only in her own qualities, but by her ancestors she must have brought into Spain one of the best strains that any royal person at that time would have been likely to have represented.

She was the daughter of Alfonso VIII. of Castile, rightly called 'the Noble,' whose reign was of great benefit to the country, himself a son of a successful warrior during a short career and grandson of Alfonso VII. already noted for his success. Her grandfather was Henry II., one of England's most vigorous and able kings, according to Hume 'the greatest prince of his time for wisdom, virtue and abilities.'

After the death of Alfonso IX., the throne was taken up by Ferdinand III. his son. 'He was a just, pious, able and paternal ruler, as well as a valiant soldier.' He triumped over the infidels and considerably extended his domains. His wife was a daughter of the Emperor Philip, a vigorous, warlike character, who, being assassinated when only thirty years old, never had an opportunity to display his real abilities. Philip was the son of Frederick Barbarosa, the greatest man and greatest power of his day. Thus a certain amount of able blood was here introduced. Still we see Isaac Angelus in the pedigree, an abusive and incapable ruler. A little more than half of it all was very beneficial, for Frederick was just and wise as well as extremely able, while the Emperor Philip was up to the standard already established here in Spain. The power of the country was considerably increased under Ferdinand III.

Alfonso X., who was the son of Ferdinand III., had abilities and ambition, but was not at all a man suited to the times. He was weak and irresolute, not obeyed by his subordinates, and his reign was far from successful. His time was devoted to learning and the advancement of science, which alone prospered under his rule. He showed a slight amount of cruelty, but this was not conspicuous compared to others in this age and land. There is no question but that Alfonso X. was a man of great intellect.

His character forms an exception and is the only one of the sort I have met with in this region. It is easily accounted for by a combination of ancestral qualities, but such combinations are apparently far from common. He was a poet, scientist and writer, and through his influence learning was greatly advanced. He is said to have been the first royal personage who was also a man of letters. The marriage of Alfonso X. with Violanta undoubtedly served to a certain extent to perpetuate the strength of the stock, for his wife was a daughter of James, the Giant Conqueror of Aragon. Still James with his great abilities as a warrior was violent, cruel, passionate and licentious, and aside from James there is not much distinguished blood in the characteristics of Violanta 's pedigree.

We now come to a period of misfortune for christian Spain, and it is interesting to note how closely the welfare of the country follows the character of the sovereigns, how great the impress of the ruler was on his times in those early days in spite of the theoretical representation of the people in the popular branch of the Cortes.

During the reigns of the next two succeeding monarchs, Sancho IV. and Ferdinand IV., the family feuds and lack of a strong and wise ruler affected the country so disastrously that practically anarchy may be said to have prevailed.

Sancho IV. inherited the cruel, passionate disposition of his grandfather, James of Aragon, without his wisdom. His character was also warlike, vigorous and cruel and the only good fruits of his reign were his conquests against the Moors, whom he defeated in Andalusia and even carried his victories into Tarifa, a town in the very furthest extremity of Spain. The marriage Sancho made, when considered on the grounds of perpetuating greatness, may be considered half or more than half good. His queen, Mary, can be seen on the chart to be descended from largely 'obscure' stock, though she was the great-granddaughter of the famous heroine, Berengaria, already mentioned. She was her worthy descendant, for she repeated her character in every particular. Resolute, calm and devoted, she was an astute diplomatist and politician. Whatever successes there were were due largely to her.

Sancho's reign was short, lasting only eleven years. During the life of the queen mother, she exercised, as we have said, a beneficial influence, but after her death the reign of the feeble Ferdinand IV. was one long list of disasters. Some may wonder why Ferdinand should have been so weak, but as many of his immediate ancestors were far from being endowed with vigorous minds, of course he had a chance to get qualities from the poorer of them. He did repeat the cruel, passionate and tyrannical disposition to perfection, but no one appears to have paid any attention to his wishes.

Now again when the mental qualities are threatened we find them brilliantly restored. Constantine, the wife of Ferdinand, was just the one to effect this, as a glance at the chart will show. It is interesting to see Alfonso X., the scholar and poet, again in his grandson Diniz of Portugal, in another country and in another day where probably no influence of environment could come into play. Alfonso was the first and he was the second royal personage who was also a man of letters. The issue of this union was another one of the heroes of old Castile, Alfonso II., who succeeded to the throne in 1312, when only one year old; grew to be a great warrior against the Moors, and taking after his maternal grandmother possessed a large share of prudence and virtue, some of the rarer characteristics of his tribe. As an example of the respect felt for him even by his enemies the following may suffice: The Moorish king of Granada is said to have exclaimed when he heard of Alfonso's death, 'We have lost the best king in the world—one who knew how to honor the worthy, whether friend or foe.' This eulogy is, however, somewhat offset by the evidence that he was extremely cruel at times.

It is now to be noted that there are an unusual number in the pedigree of Alfonso, who have the adjective cruel or some other designation of depravity attached to them. Now a close intermarriage here will undoubtedly give rise to some of those great and valiant qualities, courage, energy and ability in the leadership of men, which were possessed by some, though not by all these royal lords and dames. There is a fair chance that the literary or possibly the pious and amiable qualities may reappear. But such a close intermarriage would be a hazardous one to say the least.

Let us take a survey of the pedigree of Alfonso XL in order to see what proportionate amount of cruelty and depravity there is in the ancestry of each succeeding generation.

In five degrees of kinship back of Ferdinand II. (d. 1187) we find three such, among the nine persons whose records were obtainable. In the same degree for Alfonso IX. there were only two among the nine. Ferdinand III. (d. 1252), who represents the next generation, had but three degenerate ancestors among the twelve. In the same degree of kinship for his son Alfonso X., we find five among eighteen. For the next generation (Sancho IV.) the number is two in twelve. Ferdinand IV. (d. 1312), his son, had three in fifteen. So we see that this type of character, though common, was present in Spanish royalty in these early centuries only to the extent of about one in four or five, but in the ancestry of Alfonso XI., on account of a gathering of this cruel type, we find no less than eleven such among the fifteen who could furnish records of any sort. It is simply that about Alfonso XI. there happens to be brought together a number of strains from the four different countries, Aragon, Castile, Hungary and Portugal, each containing an average amount of the qualities in question. However, owing to strange jumping about, which so many characteristics show in the course of hereditary transmission, Alfonso himself shows none of them, but is himself the bridge over which they pass to appear in his son whose actions seemed more like that of a demon than a man the incarnation of cruelty itself.

A very close intermarriage was made by this Alfonso IX. of Castile. His wife was the daughter of Alfonso IV. of Portugal, a brilliant warrior, but withal a cruel tyrant and the one of all rulers in Portugal on whom rests the greatest odium.[2]

Now let us see what proportion of the passionate and cruel would be found in five degrees of kinship for a child of Alfonso XI. by such a wedlock. Owing to the intermarriage we find but eleven different persons as several names appear twice. There are only three who are free from the characteristics in question, or eight in eleven show the passionate and cruel type. If we take all for six degrees removed we find the number even worse, eleven in fourteen. A son could scarcely escape the worst sort of inheritance, except by the greatest fortune. What did happen was this. Pedro, the only legitimate son of Alfonso XI., known in all history as 'Pedro the Cruel,' amused himself in some such ways as this. He imprisoned and foully treated his first wife, Blanche of Bourbon, and during the first part of his reign had many noblemen, among others Don Juan, his cousin, executed in his presence. Once, it is stated, in the presence of the ladies of the court he commanded a number of gentlemen to be butchered until the Queen, his mother, fell into a dead faint in company with most of the ladies present. "He then caused to be murdered his own aunt, Dona Leonora of Aragon, mother of the above Don Juan, for nothing except that Aragon would not make peace with him 'being compelled to get Moors to do the job, as no Castilian could be induced to undertake it,' says King Pedro IV. of Aragon in his memoirs. A certain priest coming before him to say that St. Domingo had appeared to him in a dream and counselled him to tell the king that he would meet his death at the hands of his brother, Henry Pedro insisted that the priest must have been prompted by Don Henry himself, and so ordered the poor dreamer to be burnt alive. One lady, Urraca Osorio, for refusing his address, was burnt alive in the market place of Seville. Another disfigured herself in order to escape his attentions. "He was as devoid of generosity as of pity, as reckless of the truth as of life, as greedy of gain as of blood—a false knight, a perjured husband, a brutal son."[3]

Thus Pedro 'the Cruel' is amply accounted for by heredity alone, without bringing in the question of the inheritance of any acquired characters, and it does not seem that this brutality could be the result of the environment in which he lived since before his day when times were even rougher we find so many kings and queens possessing every virtue. There were never any before as bad as Pedro nor were there any, on grounds of heredity alone, as likely to be so. It is interesting to note that he was the great-great-grandfather of Richard III. of England, with whom he is often compared. Pedro's actions cost him the loss of most of his subjects, and finally his life at the hands of his bastard brother, Henry, who had somewhat the same characteristics though in a lesser degree.

Henry established a new line under the title of Henry II. His own origin was, probably, without distinction on his mother's side, and this is one of the four successive unions now to be discussed which can not in any way be used to illustrate the perpetuation of genius. It is also at this time that we find four incompetent rulers, three of whom are described as imbeciles. This is very significant, though I do not see that the imbecility of John I. of Castile is at all properly accounted for by heredity. Mere weakness, cruelty and licentiousness might be well expected, but not imbecility in the medical sense of the word, and I do not know that this medical sense is implied by the historians when using this term in connection with these persons. The origin of the well-known insanity in the Spanish and Austrian houses, perpetuated over thirteen generations and involving more than a score of individuals, is a very interesting question. It cannot be traced with certainty prior to Isabella, the Queen of John II. of Castile. This Isabella was out and out insane, according to the celebrated English alienist, Ireland,[4] and from her, onward, the insanity passed along in one form or another by the very intermarriages which their pride and political motives caused them to arrange, with the intended idea of making permanent their world power, but with the inevitable result of losing that same prestige by placing it in the hands of the unfortunate children whose inheritance was necessarily mental weakness as the result of such unwise wedlocks.

Without taking up the characters separately we need only look at the chart to get a clear idea of the predetermined cause which lead to the peculiar characters who were foremost during this epoch and to see how perfectly natural it was that there should have been some exhibiting the most depraved characteristics while others, like Ferdinand and Isabella, were fortunate enough to inherit the genius which we see is likewise present in a conspicuous degree. The chart shows that Isabella might be expected to be greater than Ferdinand. She had five elements of genius in her pedigree, being through intermarriage twice the great-granddaughter of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, one of the great men of his day, and John the Great of Portugal appears twice in the pedigree for the same reason. She was also the granddaughter of Henry III. of Castile, who was a model of all that a king should be. Both Ferdinand and Isabella possessed high ability and character, as can be fully confirmed by consulting any history of the times. They were married through personal choice of the queen, as she appreciated in Ferdinand a man worthy of her love. Nothing could be better for the welfare of the country than that two such able rulers should sit upon the throne at once. But Ferdinand was her second cousin and the descendant of weak or perfidious rulers.

We now see that the children of this union have two estimable parents but they have a remarkably bad lot of grandparents, and back of this we find the worst weaknesses in some while in others is much ability of a very high sort. We should not expect a child to be ordinary. On the other hand the most extraordinary is only to be expected. The two descendants whom we have here to consider are Joanna and her son, the Emperor Charles Quint. The former got the insanity and imbecility, the latter the genius and a touch of the neurosis as well. Every one in this region of the chart fills in a link in a way to be expected and is readily and perfectly explained.

The pedigree of Philip the Fair, who married this mad Joanna, contains the great fighting qualities of the old kings, tremendous energy, and great ruling functions without a bit of the insanity and weaknesses shown in Castile and Leon. This was the famous marriage that placed the Hapsburgs on the highest pinnacle of power a marriage almost certain to produce genius and as certain to produce some descendants whose heritage would be imbecility or weakness, or whose ambition would only lead them to mad extremes. Both the genius and the insanity appear quite as we should expect, and it is to be noted that the neuroses are now seen to appear for the first time in the Hapsburgs, since they are introduced into this family through the blood of Castile and Leon; and furthermore these afflictions appear at once. From this time onward, insanity is rampant. Why should it have remained so and not have diminished through reversion to the mean? Let us look at the subsequent marriages.

The Emperor Charles V. married Isabella, a daughter of Emanuel the First of Portugal, a mediocre king; and an inbred descendant of the great Portugal house. Her mother was a sister of the mad Joanna and granddaughter of John the imbecile, and Isabella, the insane. So this may be called a pretty close intermarriage, as well as an unadvisable one. The Emperor himself was somewhat eccentric. He was cruel as well as inordinately ambitious, but he was withal a great ruler. Towards the latter part of his life he was especially subject to melancholia. The effect of this unwise marriage was of course to perpetuate these traits. We shall see under Austria how the evil qualities were much less conspicuous and how the influence of outside stock made itself felt in counteracting these undesirable perversions. The descendants bred true to kind, and in all regions of the chart we find the vicious qualities appearing in places where we should most expect them, that is, in places where the intermarriages were closest.

It is a matter of common belief that intermarriage alone is a cause of insanity, therefore, it is worth while to consider that here it is merely perpetuating what already exists and cannot be considered the cause of its beginning. In a later chapter this question will be more fully discussed. It was not yet time for the intellectual qualities to entirely disappear, for Charles Quint had two descendants who are celebrated historical characters. These were Don John of Austria and Alexandre Farnese, both of whom so distinguished themselves by virtue of their great abilities that abundant material can be found in any biographical dictionary to confirm the belief that these men were geniuses. His grandson, Albert Archduke of Austria and Governor of the Netherlands (son of Maximilian II.), was a man of high though not the highest talents. There are three others worth mentioning in this connection. The Archduke Charles, his great-grandson, is spoken of in this way:

He died in the twenty-sixth year of his age of a malignant fever. He was deeply regretted by the nation, being universally considered a prince of extraordinary merit and endowments. . . active and ambitious spirit.[5]

The Cardinal Ferdinand, his brother, was a man of equal mark and merit, who as Governor of the Netherlands there warded off Spain's impending disasters until his untimely death brought a great loss upon his country. He is spoken of in the highest terms by all historians, especially for his bravery, prudence and magnanimity.[6] Don John, a natural son of Philip IV., also was the possessor of great qualities.

It is noteworthy that three of these six were illegitimate, and that the greatest, Alexandre Farnese and Don John, were of these three. It seems probable that owing to the extremely high-strung and unstable condition of nearly all the members of the family, a union with an entirely different class of people would be of advantage to the health and balance of mind. It was not so much that ability was needed as a toning down of the excessiveness that had been manifesting itself in so many ways.

Of these mentioned, one was a son, two were grandsons, two were great-grandsons and one was a great-great-grandson. The most eminent were the closest related, and it is probable that the number of more distant relationship would not have been so large (as in the case of Galton's tables) but for the close intermarriages, giving the genius a chance to be further perpetuated than would ordinarily have been the case.

The kings of Spain never again had anything of the renowned abilities of Isabella, Charles, or the celebrated warriors of early days like Alfonso VI. (1126), James I. of Aragon, or John the Great of Portugal. It might have been that some of the eldest sons should have inherited the great qualities instead of little ones, but Spain may be said to have been unlucky in this, and as the next three, Philip II., III. and IV., did not get the best, in each succeeding generation the chances of its reappearing become more and more dim until the probabilities of a reversion were entirely unlikely.

Let us now notice the neuroses in this same region. The amount of insanity, or at least marked deviation from the normal, should be strikingly conspicuous owing to the intermarriages. It is so. Philip II. is described in this way by Motley.

He was believed to be the reverse of the Emperor (his father). Charles sought great enterprises, Philip would avoid them. . . . The son was reserved, cautious, suspicious of all men and capable of sacrificing a realm from hesitation and timidity. The father had a genius for action, the son a predeliction for repose. His talents were in truth very much below mediocrity. A petty passion for contemptible details characterized him from youth. . . diligent with great ambition. . . . He was grossly licentious and cruel.[7]

Philip II. evidently took after his grandmother, Joanna 'the Mad,' who was weak and melancholic, and perhaps also his grandfather, the feeble Philip 'the Fair' of Austria. He did not resemble either his father or mother. Both of Philip's marriages were from the biological point of view extremely unwise, the first being worse than the second, as Mary was a daughter of John III. of Portugal, who was weak and bigoted, in fact, a man much like Philip himself. Philip's wife was doubly related to him, being both first and second cousin, and this relation coming by way of the insane ancestors. So what wonder that the child of this union, Don Carlos, should have been one of the most despicable and unfortunate specimens of humanity in modern history?

The following pedigree of Don Carlos shows his chances of inheriting the inbred neurosis:

John, Isabel,
imbecile, insane.
John, Isabel, John, Isabel, John, Isabel,
imbecile, insane. imbecile, insane. imbecile, insane.
Isabella. Isabella. Isabella Ferdinand
Johanna. Philip, Johanna, Emanuel I., Mary.
'mad.'weak. 'mad.' weak.
Emanuel I, Mary. Chas. V., Isabel. Chas. V., Isabel.
weak melancholic. melancholic.
John III. Catherine.
Mary. Philip II.,
Don Carlos,
madly depraved and cruel.

Here if there had been many children instead of one I should say that in a rough way extreme degeneration would be likely to be present in somewhat more than half the number. It is significant to notice that the two worst characters in all modern royalty, Don Carlos and Peter 'the Cruel,' are also the two who have the worst pedigrees.

Don Carlos, it will be observed, though a great-grandson of Joanna 'the Mad' and Philip 'the 'Weak,' has almost exactly the same blood. Ferdinand and Isabella extend right across the chart. Emanuel I. takes his origin from a root almost identical with both Ferdinand and Isabella, and this root we have seen is the reign in which the insanity must have originated.

I do not see how Philip could have planned it better if he had wanted this son whom he really so much despised.

The son by Philip's only other productive marriage was Philip III. Here again we have a close inbreeding, though through a somewhat "better route. Anne was his own niece and even more closely related than a niece, as her father was Philip's own cousin. The only outside blood was distant, by Ladislaus. King of Hungary. This blood was presumably healthy though not distinguished. Philip was a man of very low mental calibre (about grade 2). Hume says he was not a fool, though Prescott calls him the imbecile grandson of Charles V. The melancholic tendency a]3peared in him, though not to the extent of insanity. Ireland sums the whole situation up thus: "Philip was a man of feeble and indolent character, governed by worthless favorites. The power of Spain declined as rapidly as it had risen."[8]

This is the same story over again in the history of Spain. We find the condition of the country reflecting the character and strength of the monarch. Many times through the course of the centuries she had been blessed apparently through heredity by great and able rulers and her course had been hampered only here and there by the presence of a weak one; but all this from the great Emperor Charles's day onward was to be just reversed by the same almost unerring law of descent. I do not mean that a weak monarch might not exceptionally, even in those early days, reign over a glorious period. The greatness of Portugal lasted through the reigns of two weak sovereigns, Emanuel I. and John III., though the germs of decay were clearly at work. Likewise Spain's glory had its greatest outward manifestation of splendor in the time of Philip II. whose acts were nearly all injudicious. The increment of one period made itself felt in a later. Still in general the countries prospered only under the great leaders.

Philip was not as bad as Carlos, nor was his pedigree quite as hopeless. The roots from which he sprung were practically all from the weak John II. of Castile and Isabella the insane. In this he is like Carlos. However, it is to be noted that three of his immediate ancestors were excellent characters, though not especially gifted. These are represented as such on the chart. Ferdinand I. and Maximillian II. will be taken up under Austria.

The marriage of Philip III. was no more fortunate. His queen was the daughter of Charles, Duke of Styria, who was evidently not the possessor of great talents, as I have never been able to find a reference to his character or achievements. He was the son of the same Ferdinand I. Charles's wife was of 'obscure' origin. Thus the neurosis was perpetuated and furthermore the genius was not maintained. However, very high ability still cropped out in two of Philip the Third's many children. These were Charles and Ferdinand, already treated. But unfortunately the crown did not fall to either of them, and so we have an artificial election of the worst. The reign of Philip IV., who became king, was a period of great misfortune. His only good qualities were his love of.art and literature, and perhaps his best bequests to the world are the famous portraits of himself and family painted by the great Velasquez.

Besides being weak and foolish he was 'far inferior to his predecessor in purity of life.' "Spain might still have regained the lofty station she once held in the rank of kingdoms if at the succession of Philip IV. a wise and energetic monarch had ascended the throne."[9]

By his marriage with his niece, Maria Anne, he succeeded in having two degenerates, Prosper, who had convulsive fits from his birth and died young, and Charles II., who became king.

Charles was the last of the Spanish-Austria line and in him all its weaknesses were combined. Feeble in mind and body, he was grossly superstitious and so ignorant that he did not know the names of some of his own towns and provinces.[10]

By his marriage with Elizabeth, who was a great-granddaughter of Ferdinand I., and consequently partially of the same tainted stock, Philip IV. had one licentious weakling out of three children. This child, Don Balthaza, the subject of the famous Velasquez recently acquired by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, was so dissipated that he brought himself to his grave before he had reached his seventeenth year.[11] Another of the three, Maria Theresa, who married Louis XIV., was extremely stupid.

Charles V. did not have any posterity and the war of the Spanish succession deluged Europe with blood, but the Austrian House did not reach its end through any sterility caused by inbreeding, for in spite of the inbreeding it is noteworthy that they had large families, quite as large as elsewhere. Many of the children died in infancy, but the wives were not sterile. It can not be argued that inbreeding was a cause of the large percentages of early deaths, since we have also to deal with the question of insanity and neuroses. All sorts of mental and physical defects, such as are known to be frequently found in families with an insane diathesis, may have been the cause.

This completes the study of what may be conveniently classified as two groups. First (a) the old Castile, Leon and Aragon, families; second, (b) the Hapsburgs in Spain. Let us first review the characteristics of the former. This subgroup (a) contains 97 names. The character and ability of the 97 have been found in 63 cases with sufficient fullness for the purpose in hand. The other 34 must be marked 'obscure.' They are valuable in a negative way. There were about 39 of the total who had very marked ability, evidently considerably above the average of kings and queens and such as should place them in grades 7 to 10 of the standard here used. This percentage of over one in three is a high one, but the most striking fact is that out of the thirty actual sovereigns on the thrones of Castile, Leon and Aragon, no less than twenty-two are of this group. This I attribute in part to the constant struggle between the rival families, between brothers of the same family and other close relatives, in their jealous greed for power and domain, thus keeping up a struggle for existence, capable of showing itself in results, and partly to fortuitous chance endowing the heir to the throne with the qualities of the stronger rather than the weaker of his ancestry. The number of weak or indolent is correspondingly small, though high temper, jealousy and ambition are present in nearly all.

I find about six persons to whom the terms feeble, characterless and indolent, are applied. Two of these, Andrew II., King of Hungary, and Ferdinand IV., of Castile, are apart from the others. The remaining four are very closely related, being father, son, nephew and his son. These are John I., John II., Henry IV. of Castile and Ferdinand I. of Aragon.

The family had already existed twelve generations before these characteristics appeared in it. In the tenth generation one of the greatest names is found in Ferdinand IV., and even in the nineteenth and twenty-first generations some of the best and most vigorous and ambitious appear in Ferdinand, Isabella and the Emperor Charles, all of whom were the descendants of the privileged few with a pedigree practically entirely of this sort extending back through more than twenty generations on all sides, and including many thousands of nobles titles.

These names which close the group are as great as those which opened it. How can this be if the assumption of rank and power is to lead to degeneration? It may be argued that the necessity for action in these times of incessant strife obliged the individuals to be energetic and so the characters were the product of their times, but we have seen that the selection alone would produce this. Furthermore, against the environment explanation we must remember the great number of able and vigorous men who appear much later in history in other countries and the descendants of forty instead of twenty generations of blue-bloods. The modern Saxe-Coburg-Gotha chart is almost entirely free from weaknesses and indolence.

The insanity apparently starts in Peter the Cruel. We have seen how his character might well have been the result of a combination of a large number of cruel persons. This insanity continually reappeared in Spain, where one finds it most rampant. It occasionally appeared in Austria, where it was less often introduced. It probably was also the origin of the Plantagenet neurosis, the full history of which I have not yet had time to study with any completeness.

  1. Conf. Havelock Ellis, 'Study of British Genius,' Popular Science Monthly. (Geniuses have come from the upper classes.)
  2. McMurdo's 'History Portugal,' three volumes, London, 1899.
  3. Watts' 'The Christian Recovery of Spain.'
  4. Ireland, 'Blot on the Brain.'
  5. Dunlop, 'Mem. Spain.'
  6. Dunlop, 'Mem. Sp.,' I., 183, also Hume's 'Spain.'
  7. Motley's 'Rise Dutch Rep.,' Vol. I., p. 142.
  8. Ireland, 'Blot on the Brain,' p. 156.
  9. Dunlop, 'Mem. Spain,' Vol. I., p. 23.
  10. Young, 'Hist. Netherlands,' p. 611.
  11. Dunlop, 'Mems. Spain,' Vol. I., p. 378