In honor of the anniversary of the premiere of Don Carlos in 1867, I have compiled a list of historical fun facts (courtesy of Wikipedia) about the real Carlos, Elizabeth, and of course, Eboli. Enjoy!
Carlos, Prince of Asturias, was likely completely insane as a result of inbreeding. He had only four great-grandparents – most of us have eight, and he had only six great-great-grandparents – you and I probably have 16. His parents “coefficient of coancestry” is 1/8, meaning they were basically half-siblings. He also was apparently not cute.
It’s true that Elizabeth de Valois was engaged to Carlos, son of King Phillip, and that political complications made it necessary that she marry King Phillip in 1559 instead.
At the time of the wedding, Elizabeth was 14, King Phillip was 32, and Carlos was 24.
Carlos’s mental instability (and probably not his undying love for his 14 year old stepmother) lead King Phillip to imprison him in 1568, where he died six months later.
Elizabeth de Valois also died in 1568, two and a half months after Carlos, as the result of a miscarriage.
Ana de Mendoza -Princess of Eboli, and real-life best friend of Elizabeth de Valois- actually spent three years in a convent in 1573, 13 years after the events of Don Carlos, and five years after the deaths of Carlos and Elizabeth.
Upon returning to court, de Mendoza formed an alliance with state undersecretary Antonio Pérez. They were accused of betraying state secrets and arrested in 1579. Ana de Mendoza died in prison in 1592.
The Princess of Eboli wore an eyepatch because she was possibly blind in one eye, and/or lost it in a fencing accident. Despite the affliction, she really did have the ‘don fatale’ of eye-patchèd beauty.
There was also a lot of propaganda after Carlos’s death claiming that King Phillip had him poisoned, but we’ll probably never know. Still, both the poisoning and the mental instability present interesting opportunities for staging.