National Collegiate Honors Council


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UReCA: The NCHC Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity:


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During the height of their rule in Spain and Austria, the Habsburgs intermarried in order to preserve a strong, purely royal bloodline and to ensure that a Habsburg remained on the throne. For the Habsburg kings in Spain from 1516 to 1700, limpieza de sangre, literally “purity of blood,” was a central principle among Iberian peoples by the fifteenth century that focused initially on keeping Jewish and Moorish blood out of prominent Catholic families. This standard had been crucial since the Reconquista -the gradual expulsion of the Moors which lasted from the 1100s to the 1400s -and took on a new definition with the Reformation among Habsburgs. By intermarrying, their bloodline stayed pure and kept the family purely Habsburg, in addition to preserving power by keeping Habsburg lands in the mainline of the family. This inbreeding, however, resulted in an onslaught of physical and mental ailments and disorders for the Habsburgs because their gene pool was subject to very limited diversity. This also led to the end of the Spanish Habsburg Dynasty with Carlos II in 1700, as he was the product of several generations of inbreeding.