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Charles I of Spain doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself very much in this picture as he listens to the German singer Barbara Blomberg perform. It looks more like his gout is acting up. Nevertheless, the two would have an affair and a son, John of Austria, one of the most charismatic figures of the 16th Century. Barbara wasn’t his only lover, nor was Charles the only king to have one. In fact, the world of monarchs and mistresses seemed commonplace in most courts over the centuries, even to this day. In today’s podcast we look at how much of that was true, starting with the Ferdinand and Isabella all the way to the last Habsburg king, Charles II.
For a few hours there, the very future of this wonderful land was completely up in the air. It must have been a terribly frightening experience, especially for those who had such wretched memories of the Spanish Civil War and the disparaging decades afterwards. Who wanted to relive all that? Seemingly, some were willing to. Everything seemed to hinge on the young King Juan Carlos’ speech that evening. One key factor affecting the success of the coup was the fact the rebels had not managed to take control of the media, which in the Pre-internet Age meant everything. The king came on the air decked out in his finest military gala. That, for some, may have appeared to be a sign he was siding with the army…but which side and which army? Would he defend the uprising in the name of law and order or would he suppress it for the same reasons? Much has been discussed about the actual role of Juan Carlos in the planning of the coup, and some even accuse him of being a part of the plot, but what history will remember him for is being the man who stood up to the overthrowers and upheld democracy and the constitution in front of the entire nation. His exact words were: “The crown, symbol of the permanence and unity of the nation, cannot tolerate, in any form, actions or attitudes attempting to interrupt the democratic process.”
The insurgents’ days, hours, even minutes were numbered. Talk of the King’s Speech.