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Royal Portrait

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Exploding Armour
Alchemist Coin
Violin of the Waltz
Falconry Gear
Cellini Saliera

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How did the Habsburgs become the most powerful family in Europe?

And why did their family nearly die out?

When one looks at this portrait of King Carlos the Second of Spain, it is impossible to miss his wan complexion and elongated jaw.

His jaw is a trait common in his family – the family that once owned nearly everything in the museum.

They are the Habsburgs – for 500 years the foremost ruling family in Europe. 

They achieved their power through diplomacy and war.

And they cemented their power by convincing themselves and others that their family ruled by the will of God.

But a careful examination of the portraits of the Habsburgs tells a tale of deformities and maladies that increased over many generations.  The reason was inbreeding.

Why did the Habsburgs marry only within their own family?  Why did they not realize that inbreeding was killing them?


All will be revealed in Museum Secrets: Inside the Kunsthistorisches Museum.