Study: Inbreeding ruined the Hapsburg dynasty
Dynasty that dominated Europe for more than 500 years was undone by incest, study finds
Independent | Apr 20, 2009
By Steve Connor
The Hapsburg dynasty was one of the most important and influential royal families in Europe dating back more than 500 years and producing rulers in Austria, Hungary, Belgium, the Netherlands and the German empire. Then, in 1700, it suffered a sudden demise of its Spanish branch. Now scientists believe they have come up with a definitive explanation.
A study of the extended family tree of the House of Hapsburg has found that the last Spanish Hapsburg king, Charles II, was the offspring of a marriage that was almost as genetically inbred as an incestuous relationship between a brother and sister or parent and child.
Scientists have found that the Hapsburg fashion of marrying their relatives to keep their dynastic heritage intact had dire consequences for subsequent generations, which culminated in the last heir to the Spanish throne being sickly and impotent.