It's been a while since I visited that genealogical house of horrors, the Hapsburg Dynasty, which came to a screaming halt with the birth of King Charles II of Spain. He had so many deformities and came from such hopelessly twisted bloodlines that he was, without doubt, his own Grandpa, if not uncle, nephew, brother, cousin, and (quite possibly) great-aunt.
When I found these gifs, I nearly did cartwheels. They're so beautifully done, and so very creepy! I can't describe all the genetic horrors that left the Hapsburg DNA looking like the hideously twisted metal of a smoking car wreck. But I have noticed before that in their portraits, which are supposed to be flattering, they all look disturbingly alike. And some of them are just plain plug-ugly. These portraits were often used as calling-cards/Instagram photos to cement marriage agreements, in which case the Hapsburgs must have been blind as well as deformed.
I wish I had the talent to do things like this! Go on Michelle Vaughan's site for more.
Emperor Leopold I and Margarita Teresa of Spain; uncle and niece, husband and wife
Emperor Leopold I and King Charles II; uncle and nephew, brothers-in-law
Infanta Maria Teresa and Infanta Margarita Teresa; half-sisters, second cousins
Infanta Maria Teresa and Queen Mariana; first cousins, step mother and step daughter
Infanta Margarita Teresa and King Charles II; sister and brother
Maria Anna of Spain and Queen Mariana; mother and daughter
Queen Mariana and Emperor Leopold I; sister and brother
King Philip IV and Queen Mariana; uncle and niece, husband and wife
King Philip IV and Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand; brothers
King Philip IV and Maria Anna of Spain; brother and sister
Habsburgs as GIFs
Here is a collection of portraits commissioned by the Habsburg court in Spain and Austria during the 17th century. Diego Velázquez was the primary court painter for King Philip IV (1605-1665); and his apprentices, Juan Carreño de Miranda and Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo, followed after his death. In Austria, the Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold I, sat for court artists such as Guido Cagnacci, Benjamin Von Block and Jan Thomas. These portraits had many different purposes during this time: to be displayed as powerful symbols; used as political propaganda; or to be given to family members, neighboring courts, and the families of potential spouses.
The Habsburgs often exchanged portraits to arrange their marriages, and many unions were first cousins. This particular family line had extremely high levels of inbreeding – there were two sequential uncle-niece marriages. As a result, their inbreeding coefficient numbers sometimes ranged higher than offspring produced by a brother and sister.
With animated GIFs, we can examine the Habsburgs’ iconography and physiognomy. The Spanish and Austrian royals look so similar that sometimes art historians cannot tell them apart. This series is part of a larger project examining the history, art history and genetics of the Spanish Habsburgs.