King Charles II "The Bewitched" Copper Cob

Date: c. 1665 - 1700 CE
Spanish Empire

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Item Description:

Minted during the reign of King Charles II (or Carlos II) of Spain, these Spanish copper coins embody a monarch whose life was as fascinating as it was tragic. Known as "The Bewitched," Charles II was the last Habsburg ruler of Spain, reigning from 1665 to 1700. His life was plagued by severe health issues and physical disabilities, largely due to the Habsburg dynasty's notorious practice of inbreeding—his parents, Philip IV of Spain and Mariana of Austria, were uncle and niece.

The Habsburgs engaged in inbreeding as a strategy to keep property within the royal family. This practice, however, led to many family members, including Charles II, suffering from the infamous “Habsburg jaw.” This physical deformity was so severe in Charles that it interfered with his eating and caused frequent stomach issues.

The extent to which inbreeding contributed to Charles's health problems is still a topic of debate. He endured a multitude of health issues throughout his life, including prolonged periods of illness from the time he ascended the throne. His health complications may have been triggered by a herpetic infection shortly after his birth, and his autopsy report suggests hydrocephalus (an accumulation of excess fluid in the brain). Despite his health struggles, Charles II ruled until his death on November 1, 1700. His reign was characterized by political instability and uncertainty over succession due to his failure to produce an heir, despite two marriages. His death without a direct successor sparked the War of the Spanish Succession.

Despite the political instability and economic downturn during Charles II's reign, these copper cobs remained a potent symbol of Spanish power and influence. Their crude, irregular shape, typical of the "cob" style, reflected the pragmatism of the Spanish Empire. The coins featured a castle on the obverse and a rampant lion on the reverse, representing the Spanish monarchy and the former Kingdom of León, respectively. Each coin had a value in maravedis, a unit somewhat akin to cents in the Spanish real currency system.

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