My paper corrects this narrative, first by deconstructing it and then reconstructing it. The inextricable link between Carlos II and late seventeenth-century Spain have much more to do with the politics of childhood during a royal minority than historical reality. My paper calls into question the sources that have been used to create the image of a virtually moribund child-king by relying on less hostile and more objective sources, such as the household records, private correspondence among people who had direct contact with Carlos, state council deliberations on his marriage, in which ministers discussed the king’s maturation process frankly and extensively, and his personal letters, written as a boy between the ages of fifteen and seventeen. Furthermore, it is important to compare Carlos II’s childhood experiences with that of other children growing up in the Spanish Habsburg court in order to ascertain how unusual – or how normal – his childhood was. This critical examination and careful reconstruction is a first, but critical step, on the way to reassessing this important, albeit little studied, period in the history of Habsburg Spain.
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