Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 62.djvu/181

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175
MENTAL AND MORAL HEREDITY IN ROYALTY.

him to say that St. Domingo had appeared to him in a dream and counselled him to tell the king that he would meet his death at the hands of his brother, Henry Pedro insisted that the priest must have been prompted by Don Henry himself, and so ordered the poor dreamer to be burnt alive. One lady, Urraca Osorio, for refusing his address, was burnt alive in the market place of Seville. Another disfigured herself in order to escape his attentions. "He was as devoid of generosity as of pity, as reckless of the truth as of life, as greedy of gain as of blood—a false knight, a perjured husband, a brutal son."[1]

Thus Pedro 'the Cruel' is amply accounted for by heredity alone, without bringing in the question of the inheritance of any acquired characters, and it does not seem that this brutality could be the result of the environment in which he lived since before his day when times were even rougher we find so many kings and queens possessing every virtue. There were never any before as bad as Pedro nor were there any, on grounds of heredity alone, as likely to be so. It is interesting to note that he was the great-great-grandfather of Richard III. of England, with whom he is often compared. Pedro's actions cost him the loss of most of his subjects, and finally his life at the hands of his bastard brother, Henry, who had somewhat the same characteristics though in a lesser degree.

Henry established a new line under the title of Henry II. His own origin was, probably, without distinction on his mother's side, and this is one of the four successive unions now to be discussed which can not in any way be used to illustrate the perpetuation of genius. It is also at this time that we find four incompetent rulers, three of whom are described as imbeciles. This is very significant, though I do not see that the imbecility of John I. of Castile is at all properly accounted for by heredity. Mere weakness, cruelty and licentiousness might be well expected, but not imbecility in the medical sense of the word, and I do not know that this medical sense is implied by the historians when using this term in connection with these persons. The origin of the well-known insanity in the Spanish and Austrian houses, perpetuated over thirteen generations and involving more than a score of individuals, is a very interesting question. It cannot be traced with certainty prior to Isabella, the Queen of John II. of Castile. This Isabella was out and out insane, according to the celebrated English alienist, Ireland,[2] and from her, onward, the insanity passed along in one form or another by the very intermarriages which their pride and political motives caused them to arrange, with the intended idea of making permanent their world power, but with the inevitable result of losing that same prestige by placing it in the


  1. Watts' 'The Christian Recovery of Spain.'
  2. Ireland, 'Blot on the Brain.'