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17:00 - 19:00 21 October 2015

Incest, blind faith and conquest: the Spanish Habsburgs and their enemies, 1516-1700


G22 Pearson Lecture Theatre | Pearson Building (link Map)
Gower Street | London | WC1E 6BT | United Kingdom

Open to: Academic | Alumni | Public | Student
Admission: Free
Ticketing: Open

Speaker information

Professor Geoffrey Parker, Andreas Dorpalen Professor of European History, The Ohio State University

Empires may be created by a series of accidents (such as conquests by land or sea). This has two strategic consequences: since such empires lack precedents, their creators have to govern through “trial and error”; and, since they are often created by exploiting a temporary advantage, they are hard to preserve intact – leading to agonizing decisions about whether to trade land (or other assets) for peace. This was also true of empires created by marriage and by policies of expansion driven by blind faith that they enjoyed scriptural warrant – the strategies persistently pursued by the Spanish Habsburgs from the accession of Charles V to the Spanish throne in 1516 until the extinction of the dynasty in 1700 – an extinction caused by the practice of marrying close relatives. The last Habsburg king, Carlos II, had only 6 great grandparents instead of the normal 16 – an "inbreeding coefficient" even higher than that of the children of siblings. He died ignorant, incoherent, and impotent.


Professor Helen Hackett
+44 (0)20 7679 3127 | h.hackett@ucl.ac.uk


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