Members of the Habsburg family

Weird Ideas, Weird Behaviors: Bringing the Habsburg Family Skeletons Out of the Closet

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Searching for the Source of Mental Health Problems

Mental disorders increased through the centuries for the Habsburg family. Many of the family members became exceptionally cruel or depressed. Moreover, due to the small rate of newly married princesses and princes without Habsburg blood, with time their bodies started to be deformed as well as their minds.

According to the results of research published in the magazine Nature:

''Inbreeding increases the odds that offspring inherit two copies of a recessive mutation that causes disease. Charles, for instance, was believed to suffer from at least two conditions caused by recessive mutations in different genes: pituitary hormone deficiency (which can result in infertility) and distal renal tubular acidosis, a cause of kidney failure.

Charles's infertility kept such mutations from being transmitted to subsequent generations, at least along his lineage. To determine indirectly whether other harmful mutations had been weeded out of the Habsburg family — including branches that outlived the Spanish Habsburgs — Ceballos and Álvarez counted deaths during infancy (birth to age one, excluding miscarriages and stillbirths) and childhood (ages one to ten) in the family’s history. The team recorded 502 pregnancies that resulted in 93 infant deaths and 76 childhood deaths.''

Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II. of Austria and his wife Infanta Maria of Spain with their children

Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II. of Austria and his wife Infanta Maria of Spain with their children. ( Public Domain )

The End of a Dynasty

The Habsburgs lost the Spanish throne in the 1700s - the beginning of the end of their domination. By then, the rulers’ bodies were very ill and deformed as well. The family started to search for marriages in other families which were not connected to them before. Due to this action, many European families may currently claim that they have roots connected to the Habsburgs.

The Spanish and Austrian Habsburg Dominions in 1700

The Spanish and Austrian Habsburg Dominions in 1700. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

The Habsburgs lost much of their power during the 20th century. They are still a very important family in Europe, but without the recognition and tools to influence politics in the same way as they once did.

Top image: Members of the Habsburg family. Source: Public Domain

By Natalia Klimczak


Stanisław Grodziski, Habsburgowie: dzieje dynastii, 1998.

Andrew Wheatcroft, Habsburgowie, 2000.

Emil Franzel, Habsburgowie, 1999.

Geoffrey Parker, Filip II, 1985.

Manuel Fernández Álvarez, Cesarz Karol V, 2003.

Inbred royals show traces of natural selection by Ewen Callaway, available at:


Interesting article Natalia but I believe the original surname for these inbreded royals is with a "P" not a "B". Is there something I am missing?

Elle Shepard's picture

Both are correct, sort of... If you are an American, it is more likely to be spelled with the "p" - If you are European ir will almost always be spelled with a 'b" - because that is the actual way it was meant to be spelled - In german the B is almost always sounded as a P - the Habsburgs spelled it that way - and then again they spelled it the other way as well - as a matter of fact, sometimes they left the P/B our altogether and spelled Hasburg. If you are from an old and very Royal family you can do most anything you wish with your name I suppose.


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