While I'm on this genetics role here, I stumbled across this article about the Spanish line of the Hapsburgs:
What intrigues me here is yet another case, perhaps the most famous, of a European royal house whose family tree is very well-known, and thus, whose history provides ready material for comparative historical-genetic research, and in this case, the research has certainly been done.
The question that the Hapsburgs, and in particular the Spanish branch of the House, pose, is this: why would such a family have it in their heads to inbreed so much, when the results of that inbreeding would be apparent - even then - to the most recalcitrant blockhead?
I suspect that we are here in the presence of a multi-faceted mystery, one deeply connected to the notion of the divine right of kings and bloodlines, and how those notions may have been twisted through the centuries. It is now fairly common currency in some circles that the Austrian Hapsburgs showed some sort of interest in the strange goings on around Rennes-le-Chateau in the Languedoc of France, and, if one is to believe Holy Blood, Holy Grail and The Messianic Legacy, this has something to do with bloodlines.
While I have always had numerous problems with those books and their detailed assertions, I do grant the proposition that something of that nature may have been involved. Some time ago, my friend Jim Marrs shared with me the cover of a book that was printed by and for the Hapsburg family's private use. He has mentioned this book in passing in some of his interviews, and he has shown me the cover of this leather-bound, gold-embossed book, which appears to be some sort of hidden Hapsburg family history, prepared during the reign of the second-to-last Austrian Kaiser, Franz-Josef I, shortly before the outbreak of World War One, the war that ended the last Hapsburg realm in Europe.
Again, my mind is saying one thing: that genetic interest in such families is normal, given their well-documented histories and family trees. They do indeed constitute a geneticist's dream for a field of study. Yet, again, my gut tells me something else is involved, and in this one family's case, that something appears to have been known, at least in part, by them for some time.