April 15, 2009

Inbreeding ended Hapsburg dynasty

A genetic study suggests inbreeding led to the demise of Spain's powerful Hapsburg dynasty, Spanish scientists said.

The Hapsburgs ruled a global empire from 1516 until the death of Spain's King Charles II in 1700. Gonzalo Alvarez of Spain's University of Santiago de Compostela said generations of intermarriage left the king unable to provide an heir, Britain's Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday.

The study, published in the journal Public Library of Science, found that nine out of 11 Hapsburg marriages were between first cousins or uncles and nieces, the newspaper said.

Researchers said Charles II suffered from two rare genetic conditions -- an inherited thyroid deficiency and renal tubular acidosis -- that were most likely the result of inbreeding.