Navigation Links
Inbreeding May Have Doomed Spain's Habsburg Dynasty
Date:5/9/2009

Enfeebled and sterile, Charles II's genes made him the last of his line, researchers say

FRIDAY, May 8 (HealthDay News) -- Members of the powerful Habsburg royal family ruled Spain for centuries until the dynasty died out at the beginning of the 18th century.

Now, a new study suggests the reason for their decline lies not in the stars but in themselves -- and their unfortunate habit of marrying their own relatives.

Ultimately, the genetic havoc caused by inbreeding appears to have doomed the Spanish Habsburgs to oblivion via infertility, scientists report in a research paper released last month.

"Inbreeding was a major cause responsible for the extinction of this dynasty" and also contributed to the deaths of many Habsburg children, said study co-author Francisco C. Ceballos, a researcher at the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

The study suggests that successive inbreeding contributed to the genetic diseases that turned the last Habsburg king, Charles II, into a mental and physical cripple who was unable to have children. Charles II reigned from 1665 until his death in 1700 at the age of 38.

The findings appear in a recent issue of the journal PLoS ONE.

Today, the Habsburgs are most well known for their domination of Europe over three centuries -- Charles II ruled not only Spain but Italy and much of what is now the Netherlands -- and for their oddly protruding jaws.

In Spain, the Habsburgs ruled from 1516 until 1700, when Charles II died without offspring, despite two marriages.

The family faced a challenge because they needed to marry Catholic spouses of equal rank -- a rarity -- and because dynastic marriages were used to keep territories within the family's grasp, explained Alan Sked, a historian at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

In their study, Ceballos and colleagues examined the Habsburg family tree through more than 3,000 people, going back 16 generations. They aimed to figure out how inbreeding -- cousins marrying cousins, for example, and uncles marrying nieces -- may have affected the family's health.

The team found that the final Habsburg ruler, Charles II, had a high chance of developing genetic abnormalities due to inbreeding. Indeed, he was physically stunted and suffered from a variety of intestinal and blood ailments, so much so that his subjects dubbed him "El Hechizado," or "The Hexed."

The study also suggests that interbreeding weakened the family's health so much that it contributed to an extraordinarily high death rate among children. From 1527-1661, 10 of 34 children in the Spanish Habsburg family died before the age of 1, and another seven died before they were 10. The researchers note that the death rate was much higher than would even be expected for children born in that era.

Overall, the Habsburgs' habit of inbreeding led to family members sharing up to 20 percent of identical genomic material, the researchers said.

The conclusion that inbreeding may have hurt the Habsburg family's health is a reasonable one because the odds of genetic disease rise when people marry their relatives, according to Andrew J. Bohonak, an associate professor of biology at San Diego State University.

Possibly as a result, "there are social taboos against inbreeding in most human societies," he said. "One of the few places you see these taboos avoided is in some of the royal families of old."

What would have happened if the Habsburgs hadn't married each other? Sked, the historian, said "there would have been changes in alliances, boundaries and policies. Most of all, the Habsburgs would have produced more capable and intelligent rulers."

More information

Learn more about the Habsburgs from the Encarta encyclopedia.



SOURCES: Francisco Camina Ceballos, Departamento de Fisiologia Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, A Coruna, Spain; Andrew J. Bohonak, Ph.D., associate professor, San Diego State University; and Alan Sked, Ph.D., historian, London School of Economics and Political Science, U.K.; April 2009, PLoS ONE


'/>"/>
Copyright©2009 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Why Are Most Health & Wellness Products Doomed to Failure?
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Inbreeding May Have Doomed Spain's Habsburg Dynasty
(Date:1/24/2017)... ... January 24, 2017 , ... The health insurance industry is ... (AEP) and the Open Enrollment Period (OEP). 2016 was no exception. If anything, ... witnessing higher deductibles, rising premiums, and few choices with their insurance, which is ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... ... , ... The Cruise Web Inc. was recognized today as Northeast ... Annual MSC True Partnerships’ Awards. , The 2016 MSC True Partnerships Awards are ... on overall business growth in revenue and guests and continuous partnership support and innovative ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... ... January 24, 2017 , ... OMI Industries, a worldwide leader ... distribution partnership with Byers Scientific & Manufacturing , a leading designer, engineer ... agreement, OMI Industries formulated a special version of Ecosorb® for Byers Scientific & ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... Hill, N.C. (PRWEB) , ... January 24, 2017 ... ... Trump Administration is the focus of a new report from the Frank ... Kenan-Flagler Business School. , Influential business leaders, academics and policy makers identified concrete ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... ... January 24, 2017 , ... Date aired: January 23, 2017 ... the nation’s foremost water advocate and host of the nationally syndicated The Sharon ... America, once again welcomed one of her favorite guests and colleagues, Dr. Gerald ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:1/24/2017)... Md. , Jan. 24, 2017   Intrexon Corporation ... engineering and industrialization of biology to improve the quality of ... has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire GenVec, ... and pioneer in the development of AdenoVerse™ gene delivery technology.  ... GenVec,s expertise in adenoviral vectors and cGMP drug product manufacturing ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... , Jan. 24, 2017   QR ... biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapies for the treatment ... announced the appointment of four world-class key opinion ... new appointments join QR Pharma,s previous roster of ... and direction to support the development of the ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Optogenetics ... report to their offering. ... Global Optogenetics Market is poised to grow at ... approximately $76.24 million by 2025. Some of the prominent ... using optogentic techniques for neurosciences, quick growth ultrafast laser tools technology, ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: