Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Answer #8

Codpiece #8 Don Carlos (Carlos, Prince of Asturias)
This painting is by Sofonisba Anguissola(1558) and was painted at about the time Don Carlos was 14.* Boys always wore miniature versions of adult clothing at this age so his codpiece is very similar to his father's clothing.

At the time of the painting, Don Carlos was starting to exhibit the fruitfulness of royal inbreeding. We can see hints of these demons in his misshapen head and hunched back that the artist failed to disguise. Don Carlos had your typical happy royal childhood spent mostly in seclusion torturing small animals and chasing young girls about the palace. All ended poorly when he was found at the bottom of some steps with an awfully bad knock to his noggin. Don Carlos was bled and trepanned, but a terrible fever had gripped him and it appeared that he would die shortly.

Will your mummy make you feel better or some homemade soup?
In desperation, the Duke of Alba suggested that the mummified body of Franciscan Diego de Alcala be placed in Don Carlos' bed and had balms applied from a Morisco doctor. Whether it be the balms, the bleeding, the trepanning, or the mummy...Don Carlos recovered and lived another day to torture more helpless animals. (My guess is the trepanning saved him.) But as can be imagined, head injuries usually don't cure crazy people and Don Carlos' temper and insanity only got worse. On one occasion, his shoemaker was forced to cut up and eat the boots he had made because they were the wrong size.

By now, word had got out that Don Carlos was not exactly a royal catch on the husband market. (Mary Queen of Scots was suggested, but negotiations fell through.) His codpiece was also rumored to be lacking the right tools to produce an heir and the bouts of violence didn't endear him to most future brides. Finally, when Don Carlos' madness proved too much for even Philip, he had him locked away in a tower and fed some homemade soup....one part broth, the other part poison.

* Many of Sofonisba Anguissola's works have been confused with works by Alonso Sánchez Coello. Wikipedia lists this painting by Sánchez Coello.

1 comment:

Susan Holloway Scott said...

What a catch, indeed. At least the fur on his cloak is painted very nicely.....