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DON CARLOS (1545-1568)

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Originally appearing in Volume V05, Page 344 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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DON CARLOS (1545-1568), prince of Asturias, was the son of Philip II. king of Spain, by his first wife Maria, daughter of John III., king of Portugal, and was born at Valladolid on the 8th of July 1545. His mother died a few days after his birth, and the prince, who was very delicate, grew up proud, wilful and indolent, and soon began to show signs of insanity. In 1559 he was betrothed to Elizabeth, daughter of Henry II., king of France, a lady who a few months later became the third wife of his father; in 1560 he was recognized as the heir to the throne of Castile, and three years later to that of Aragon. Other brides were then suggested f or the prince ; Mary, queen of Scots, Margaret, another daughter of Henry II., and Anne, a daughter of the emperor Maximilian II.; but meanwhile his mental derangement had become much more acute, and his condition could no longer be kept secret. In 1562 he met with an accident which was followed by a serious illness, and after his recovery he showed more obvious signs of insanity, while his conduct both in public and in private was extremely vicious and disorderly. He took a marked dislike to the duke of Alva, possibly because he wished to proceed to the Netherlands instead of the duke, and he exhibited a morbid antipathy towards his father, whose murder he even contemplated. At length in January 1568, when he had made preparations for flight from Spain, he was placed in confinement by order of Philip, and on the 24th of July of the same year he died. This event is still enveloped iri some mystery. Philip has been accused of murdering his son, and from what is known of the king's character this supposition is by no means improbable. It is known that the king appointed commissioners to try the prince, and he may have been put to death for treason in accordance with their verdict. It has also been suggested that his crime was heresy, and that his death was due to poison, and other solutions of the mystery have been put forward. On the other hand, it should be remembered that the health of Carlos was very poor, and that his outrageous behaviour in captivity would have undermined a much stronger constitution than his own. Consequently there is nothing strange or surprising in his death from natural causes, and while no decisive verdict upon this question can be given, Philip may perhaps be granted the benefit of the doubt. By some writers the sad fate and early death of Carlos have been connected with the story of his unlawful attachment to his promised bride, Elizabeth, who soon became his stepmother, and whose death followed so quickly upon his own. There is circumstantial evidence for this tale. The loss of an affianced bride, followed by hatred between supplanted and supplanter, who were father and son, then the increasing infirmity of the slighted prince, and finally the almost simultaneous deaths of the pair.. But mature historical research dismisses this story as a fable. It has, however, served as the subject for romance. Schiller and Alfieri, J. G. de Campristron in Andronic, and Lord John Russell have made it the subject of dramas, and other dramas based upon the life of Don Carlos have been written by Thomas Otway, M. A. Chenier, J. P. de Montalvan, and D. X. de Enciso. See C. V. de Saint Real, Don Carlos, nouvelle historique (Paris, 1672). This gives the story of the attachment of Carlos and Elizabeth, which has been refuted by L. von Ranke, Zur Geschichte des don Carlos (Vienna, 1829) ; and J. A. Llorente, Histoire critique de l'Inquisition (French translation, Paris, 1817). See also L. P. Gachard, Don Carlos et Philippe II (Brussels, 1863) ; C. de Molly, Don Carlos et Philippe II (Paris, 1863) ; M. Budinger, Don Carlos, Haft and Tod (Vienna, 1891); L. A. Warnkonig, Don Carlos, Leben, Verhaftung and Tod (Stuttgart, 1864); W. Maurenbrecher, Don Carlos (Berlin, 1876) ; and W. H. Prescott, History of the Reign of Philip II. vol. ii. (London, 1855, 1859).
End of Article: DON CARLOS (1545-1568)
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