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Felipe V "thought he was a frog" and "barely cleaned himself": how the most deranged king of Spain went down in history as a great monarch


The first Bourbon to reign in Spain suffered from severe depressions and hallucinations that history seems to have overlooked on more than one occasion

Felipe V came to spend 15 days bedridden in the Buen Retiro Palace, screaming that he was dead. As confirmed by Eduardo Juárez, Doctor in Modern History, he repeated it insistently with the intention of proving to himself that he was still alive. The monarch was the first Bourbon to reign in Spain and lived obsessed with death and disease: he spent thirty years assuring everyone who wanted to hear that he would pass away imminently ("it is sad not to be believed, but I will soon die and You will see that he was right ", he told Cardinal Alberoni) and he hardly ate because he said that everything felt bad for him. The fifth Felipe in Spanish history, born in Versailles in 1683, was manic-depressive, refused to cut his toenails until he could barely walk, slept during the day and gathered the court at dawn. He also did not want to change clothes because he was afraid of being poisoned through it, he did not allow himself to be cleaned and he suffered delusions. "One morning Felipe wanted to mount one of the horses that appeared drawn on the tapestries of the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso, as he believed that they were as real as himself," admitsIcon Eduardo Juárez.

"One morning Felipe V wanted to ride one of the horses that appeared drawn on the tapestries of the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso, as he believed they were as real as himself," acknowledges the doctir in History Eduardo Juárez

He believed he was a frog and denied his human condition

On other occasions, the Bourbon hallucinated believing himself to be a frog and as such behaved in the palace. He croaked and jumped through the rooms of La Granja denying his human condition, since he was sure that he lacked arms and legs. But these problems were not something new in the family: her mother, María Ana Victoria de Baviera, suffered severe depression that led her to lock herself in her rooms for days without wanting to see anyone and finally died at 30, when Felipe was alone six years.

However, how a character transcends the collective imagination is not always a faithful reflection of what really happened. Despite the scenes that the king staged in the palace on a recurring basis, he managed to have very good press and has gone down in history as a reforming monarch of the Spanish state who was benevolently called El animoso . "It is hardly mentioned that Felipe was insane, nor is it emphasized that in the Treaty of Utrecht he lost all the Spanish European territories," says Juárez. The Doctor in Marine History Alfonso Mola acknowledges that very little is known about Felipe V, "a king who has spent very little time on." The historian remembers that he was the first foreign king that Spain had and that is evident in the treatment that History has given him. "An example is that it is always said that the Illustration was started by her son Carlos III, but the reality is that it was she who started it," says Marina Alfonso.

A king unable to rule alone

Another aggravating circumstance that led to his departure from the tone is that the successor of Carlos II was not educated to be king, and even less king of Spain. "He was always the second son of his brothers and suddenly found himself with a responsibility that was beyond him, he did not feel capable of living up to it and suffered for it," notes Marina Alfonso. He was 17 years old when, in 1700, he changed Versailles for the Spanish court alone and hardly speaking Spanish. Hence the language spoken at court during his reign was French. "In La Granja all the toponyms in the garden are French words adapted to Spanish and both the abdication and the codicil of his will are written in that language," says Juárez.

The first Bourbon in Spain was a cultured and open-minded young man, but he had serious difficulties adapting. His father, Luis de Francia (son of Luis XIV), and his brother Luis, died when he was already in Spain. These losses further increased the feeling of loneliness and helplessness that so distressed him. "Felipe V had tutors who helped him to reign because the depressions he suffered prevented him from doing so. He was surrounded by very capable politicians who ended up ruling for him. Felipe did not want to be king of Spain, what he wanted was to stay in France, so he sent build La Granja, a royal palace in the French style where he planned to retire as soon as he could abdicate his son Luis, " the historian explains to Icon .

The king's sexual fervor was striking. The same that he felt for religion and that led him to live in constant contradiction, because every time he had sex, something that often happened, he felt the need to confess immediately to get rid of the sin he had just committed.

His sexual fervor led him to constantly confess

In addition to his mania and delusions, the king's sexual fervor was striking. The same one that he felt for religion and that led him to live in constant contradiction, because every time he had sex, something that often happened, he felt the need to confess immediately to get rid of the sin he had just committed. "He was terrified of dying of a sin and, as he spent half his life believing that he was dying, he went to mass daily so that he would be absolved of his sins as soon as possible," says Juárez.

Felipe V married only a few months after being named king of Spain with María Luisa Gabriela de Saboya, with whom he ended up falling in love with the same obsession that dominated his existence. The married couple's sex life was hectic and together they had four children, but in 1714 she died, at the age of 25, from tuberculosis. Shortly after becoming a widow, the monarch married Isabel de Farnesio, with whom he had seven more children. "The king was very sexually active, but very faithful. He could not conceive of having relationships with women other than his wife when he was away from home and he was very offended if they offered him the possibility of doing so," explains Marina Alfonso Mola, who also It affects the fact that El Animoso was the last Spanish king to go to war and set an example by personally participating in a battle. Precisely during the months he spent outside the palace concentrating on military strategies, his metal health improved and his obsessions and delusions - which they referred to as "fumes" - hardly made an appearance.

He was cyclothymic: he went from not getting up to going without a brake

However, when he returned to court his fears and insecurities returned. He was cyclothymic: he went from being unable to get up to carrying out an unbridled activity. As Marina Alfonso Mola explains, the king was very responsible but he felt an absolute insecurity that paralyzed him because he thought he was constantly making mistakes in his decisions. A pressure that could not have been prepared for Felipe V in Versailles and his dream was none other than abdicating his son Luis to be able to retire to La Granja. "He would have been happy being a nobleman without political ambitions," acknowledges the Doctor of History. Finally, she managed to depart from the crown in 1724, but Luis I died of smallpox eight months after accessing the throne, at the age of 17, and Felipe had no choice but to retake command. Although it is late. Thereafter the king would never regain sanity.

Felipe V died at the age of 60 between disposals and ravings, which was compounded by a lack of personal hygiene such that when they tried to shroud him by removing the clothes he was wearing, his skin also left.

He was obsessed with death and did not want to bathe

"The king is under continuous sadness. He says that he always believes that he is going to die, that his head is empty and that he is going to fall. And it is not that he is afraid of death because he does not fear it at all but absorbs unintentionally this idea and can not get rid of it. I would like to always be locked up and not see anyone but the people, very few, to whom he is accustomed. Every moment he sends me to look for Father Daubenton or his doctor, because he says that this relieves you. " In the biography Felipe V , by Marina Alfonso Mola and Carlos Martínez Shaw, this letter is collected that was sent by the Marquis de Louville, friend and confidante of Felipe V, to Chancellor Torcy.

The exits of tone that Felipe V suffered took place, on more than one occasion, in the presence of diplomats who left them reflected in the correspondence they sent. "The truth is that it is impossible to have a real vision of what was happening to the king because we have to trust what others were saying," says Mola. What has transpired is that at 45 the king's madness had no way back. He died at the age of 60 between disposals and ravings added to a lack of personal hygiene such that when they tried to shroud him by taking off the clothes he was wearing - and for so long he refused to take off - his skin was also leaving. "They had to mummify him. He is the only mummified king of Spain, but it was impossible to do anything else with him," says Eduardo Juárez.

The reason why his madness that did not go down in history

As Juárez affirms, the most surprising thing about the case of Felipe V is that "his madness" has not transcended any more. As if it happened, for example, and with less reason, with Juana I of Castilla, popularly known as Juana la loca. The historian explains it this way: "For political and dynastic reasons, in the case of Juana, she was interested in taking her for a fool. With Felipe, however, it was not convenient." Juárez remembers that each historical person is a caricature associated with a historical moment (see the case of Carlos II, El Hechizado ). Felipe V was at the forefront of a Bourbon reformist process in which a weak and upset protagonist did not fit, hence to know the ailments that dominated his eventful life it is necessary to delve into history.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2020-06-08

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