those unhappy Habsburgs

Ferdinand I, (1793-1875) like many royals, was the son of first cousins. His father, Emperor Francis, had a prodigious sexual appetite and married four times. He was known as the “wife killer” as it was rumoured he rogered his first three wives to death with his awesome libido.

Ferdinand found here

Poor Ferdinand was born with a hydrocephalic head and suffered from epilepsy. His tongue was too large for his mouth, making it almost impossible for him to speak coherently though he was once recorded as saying “I am the Emperor and I want dumplings”.

Felt dumpling found here

The Emperor’s idea of a good time was to wedge his backside in a wastepaper basket and roll around the floor in it.

Charles (Carlos) II (1661-1700) of Spain was the product of a marriage between Empress Maria Anna and Emperor Ferdinand III. Maria Anna happened to be her husband’s niece as well as his wife so she was both Charles’ mother and first cousin. 

Maria Anna found here

He was born physically and mentally disabled, and disfigured. Possibly through affliction with mandibular prognathism, he was unable to chew. His tongue was so large that his speech could barely be understood, and he frequently drooled.

Charles II found here

A sickly four year old when he succeeded his father, he reigned for 35 years. When he came to the throne he was still being breastfed by relays of fourteen wet nurses. His first wife spoke of his premature ejaculation, while his second spouse complained about his impotency. The French ambassador even managed to get a pair of Charles’ drawers examined by surgeons for traces of sperm, but the doctors could not agree about their findings.

image found here

Over the years Charles grew steadily worse. He was lame, epileptic and bald at the age of 35. His hair had fallen out, his teeth were nearly gone and his eyesight was failing. In 1698 he had three fits and became deaf. The doctors put freshly-killed pigeons on his head to prevent dizziness and applied the steaming entrails of mammals to his stomach to keep him warm, but he died nevertheless.

image found here

Charles’ successor was Philip V who was unfeasibly oversexed even by the royal standards of the day. He was a religious maniac yet a complete slave to his libido. His minister even said of him “all he needs in life is a couch and a woman“. His first mental breakdown occurred in 1717. He refused to see anyone except his wife, and only saw her because he required sexual intercourse. Philip then kept Marie Louise at his side day and night to such an extent that their bodily functions were made to synchronise.

woman and couch found here

However, four pregnancies, sleepless nights and icy rooms proved too much for Marie Louise. Doctors filed past the dying Queen and examined her from a distance, because etiquette forbade them to touch her. Philip V was not a considerate husband; until the last minute he wanted to enjoy those delights, which he would not know again for a long time. He had to be torn from her deathbed.

Marie Louise found here

Philip’s day was well ordered. He imposed an eccentric timetable on the court, which remained unchanged for most of his reign. The King went to bed about 8 o’clock in the morning, rising at midday to have a light meal. At 1 o’clock he dressed and went to mass, then received visitors, and spent the evening looking out of the window, playing with his clocks, or being read to, until it was time for a musical or theatrical entertainment. Sometime after midnight he called in his ministers to transact business, until 5 o’clock in the morning, when supper was taken with the windows closed.

(world’s most expensive?) clock found here

By 1727 his mental state had deteriorated so badly that his second wife effectively took over the rule of Spain. He refused to change his clothes and wandered the palace in filthy stinking rags, biting his arms and hands while screaming and singing. He suffered from delusions, believing that he could not walk because his feet were of different size. For a while, he believed he had turned into a frog. He spent entire days lying in bed in his own excrement, refusing to have his hair or toenails cut or his beard shaved. Pen and paper were kept out of his reach, because an impulsive abdication was feared. This unhappy life was finally brought to an end by a stroke on July 9th, 1746.

read about the transparent frog here


I’ve written about graphology before but I found an extract from the 1928 Dallas Morning News that made me think the subject could be worth a revisit

“Can you tell me by the enclosed sample of my handwriting whether I will be a great actress, or does it show that my talents run along the lines of literature? Will you please answer immediately, because I am awaiting your decision before I make up my mind to go on the stage or write a book. My career rests entirely upon the sort of analysis you make.”


This excerpt from the letter of a young lady of apparently versatile talents and ambitions, and an unbounded faith in the ability of the handwriting analyst to delve into the future and advise her accordingly, is only one of the many amusing and sometimes absurd missives and inquiries which come daily to Nell Lively Dunaway of Lawton, Ok.

not this Dunaway

Asked about the character changes showing in one’s handwriting, Mrs Dunaway laughingly said that only a day or so before, she had noticed a change in her own writing, denoting an acquired love of authority, and upon carefully considering the matter, discovered to her own chagrin that she was becoming terribly bossy.


“I use it in hiring my household help” she said. “Whenever I lose a maid or a cook and we have a run on new ones, I have them write their name, address and telephone number down for me and then I analyze it when they’re gone.”

“You fire and hire on the way a ‘t’ is crossed?” I demanded incredulously. Really, I felt that it was a sort of unfair advantage to take. What if a maid happened not to be feeling well, and crossed her “t’s” antigogglin, denoting a morbid and cruel nature, or left off the tails of her “g’s” or something else fatal?


One young girl wrote in and sent a sample of her beau’s script which had come in a box of roses. While, as yet, the question had not been propounded to the young lady, she said she felt that American Beauty roses at the present price could be construed as something approaching seriousness. In order to be forewarned and ready for the vital moment, this modern miss demanded to know the real low-down on her Don Juan who was so profligate with his intentions.

For instance: Would he make a model husband and remember such trifles as bringing home the groceries and winding the clock ?

Read about Naaman Diller here and the French Queen’s clock here

Published in: on September 8, 2010 at 8:11 am  Comments (38)  
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