While relationships between close family members were normal in the ruling houses of Europe well up until the last century (Queen Elizabeth II actually married her own third cousin), the Spanish Habsburgs occupied in the practice with especially risky surrender. Truth be told, nine out of the 11 complete relationships that happened among them during the 184 years they controlled Spain from 1516 to 1700 were incestuous.
Indeed, present day analysts broadly express that ages of inbreeding among the Spanish Habsburgs resulted in the infamous “Habsburg jaw” deformation and eventually caused their decline. Because of inbreeding, the family’s hereditary line continuously crumbled until Charles II, the last male beneficiary, was genuinely incapable for giving birth to the next generation, in this way ending the Habsburg rule.
What Is The Habsburg Jaw?
Yet, while the line was intact, this inbreeding made this royal family display various peculiar physical qualities, particularly one known as the Habsburg jaw. The most striking pointer of the family’s inbreeding, the Habsburg jaw is what specialists allude to as mandibular prognathism.
This condition is set apart by a protrusion of the lower jaw to the point that it is significantly bigger than the upper jaw and results in an underbite sometime terrible enough that it can meddle with one’s speech and make it hard to completely close the mouth.
The Cost Of Generations Of Inbreeding:
“The Habsburg dynasty was one of the most influential in Europe,” lead author Roman Vilas, a professor of genetics at the University of Santiago de Compostela, said. But the dynasty “became renowned for inbreeding, which was its eventual downfall.”
Other than guaranteeing that the position throne stayed in the grasp of the Habsburgs, this inbreeding additionally had unintended outcomes that would in the long run lead to the dynasty’s ruin. It wasn’t only the crown that was passed down from generation to generation but also a series of genes that produced birth defects.
Modern Research On Habsburg Jaw:
To figure out whether the distinctive jaw was a result of inbreeding, Vilas and his team found 10 maxillofacial surgeons and asked them to analyse 66 portraits of 15 members of the Habsburg dynasty.
The surgeons searched for 11 features that defined “mandibular prognathism,” or protrusion of the jawbone. They also looked for seven features that define “maxillary deficiency,” a related condition in which the maxillary bones — or the bones that form the upper jaw — don’t fully develop. The authors hypothesized— and later confirmed — that both of these conditions were related, had the same genetic basis and made up the Habsburg jaw, according to the statement.
The surgeons were asked to score the degree of both facial deformities for each member of the Habsburg dynasty. They found that Mary of Burgundy, who married into the family in 1477 and was Duchess of Burgundy, had the least mandibular prognathism, whereas Philip IV, who ruled Spain and Portugal from 1621 to 1640, had the most.
The five members of the royal dynasty who has the greatest maxillary deficiency were Maximilian I, who began his rule as Holy Roman Emperor in 1493; Maximilian’s daughter; his nephew; his nephew’s great-grandson; and Charles II, who was the last of the Habsburg Line.
The authors then calculated the amount of inbreeding that occurred throughout the centuries, using information from a large family tree that included 6,000 people spanning 20 generations. They then correlated the inbreeding with the degree of facial deformity seen in the paintings and found that there was a strong link between the degree of inbreeding and the degree of mandibular prognathism.
In other words, the people who were the most inbred, had the most pronounced case of this facial deformity. They also found that more inbreeding was linked to a higher degree of maxillary deficiency, but only in two of the seven features that were diagnosed.
And the findings may not end here. In addition to the Habsburg jaw researchers may have a plenty more to study regarding this family and its unusual genetic make-up.