In the 20th century, the British Royal Family hid away some of its members who had disabilities.
In contrast, in the 17th century Charles II of Spain was helped to rule that country for 35 years despite quite a severe degree of learning difficulty. He never learned to write more than a few words. He had various physical impairments, including difficulty in eating. He was supported by his mother to undertake the duties of his role. He married twice but did not have any children, a situation that led to the War of Spanish Succession on his death.
His illnesses and lack of ability to have children led to him being called 'Carlos the Bewitched'. However, he was well loved by his people and he achieved a lot during his reign, including commissioning art for the royal palaces and promoting a more scientific approach to medicine. His reign was largely a time of peace and of reversal of the previous economic decline of Spain.
He is an example of great achievement in an extremely important role by a person with learning difficulties in history. His story will be recounted with illustrations from paintings of him during his reign.
If you woud like to get in touch with the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group, please contact:
Chair of the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group
School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies
The Open University
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