History & Archaeology

The Royals Who Shared Their Beds With Mummies

When Prince Don Carlos, the son of the most powerful man in the world, took a bad fall, it was feared that the festering wound on his forehead would bring his short life to an end. It was 1562, and if anyone had the means to save someone from the clutches of death, it was Philip II of Spain, the king of the Empire where the sun never set. He gathered the most eminent doctors and anatomists around his son’s bed, yet none of them were able to find a cure. Since science had failed, the royal confessor resolved, perhaps they should seek help from Heaven.

The king was a devout Catholic, known for his “holy greed for relics”: his collection, which he kept close to his bedchambers, included 12 whole skeletons, 144 heads, and thousands of bones from all known saints, except three. However, their alleged healing properties, a deeply-rooted Christian beliefdidn’t work on young Don Carlos. Instead, the king’s confessor, Bernardo de Fresneda, suggested they seek the intercession of local miracle-maker Fray Diego de Alcalá. Since he had been dead for a hundred years the friar couldn’t perform a miracle in his living presence, but perhaps his corpse would.

Read the rest of my article at The Order of The Good Death.

Prince Don Carlos sharing his bed with the mummy of Diego de Alcalá