Who was Henry the 4th of Castile? Part two

We continue where we left it last week; if you remember we did mention that history is always told by its winners and therefore many of the chronicles and badinages about the king’s impotence were written after his death. Recent findings tell us that he suffered from various illnesses and that it is more than likely that he could not have children as a consequence of those.

The reputed doctor Gregorio Marañon studied the king’s remains and wrote an essay about all the conditions King Henry suffered from: “impotence, penis abnormality and infertility, a malformation in his genitals, flank sickness and blood in his urine”. He also wrote about his appearance: “a broad forehead, his hands were out of proportion (hence the King never allowed people to touch or kiss his hands, at the time this led people to the wrong idea that the king was being rude), long and strong fingers”.

Gathering all this information we still do not know exactly if all this stories are true or not, what historians know for sure is that Henry the 4th has gone down in Spanish history as one of the worst-treated; this is due to a number of reasons of which we point out two.

The first one is that, although he was a child with poor health, he had an excellent education which made him a man very fond of music and art, as well as hunting and hawking. A monarch he was with an extraordinary sensitivity towards his peers and subjects; his eccentric personality led him to keep a zoo with exotic animals in his Valsain palace, up the Guadarrama mountain range. The second is that his half-sister, Isabella, the Catholic Queen, tried her best to void her brother’s reignfrom historyand succeeded to a point; of all she could not do, her chroniclers made a really big effort to make up stories and twist past events in order to give birth to a black legend of which probably little resembles true events.

Next week we will tell you about the buildings and stories in Segovia from his reign. Have a fantastic week!

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