Wednesday, 30 May 2018

The Macrocephaly of Louis de Bourbon-Condé

The son and heir of the infamously insane Henri Jules de Bourbon-Condé was all set to inherit his father's title upon his death. Unfortunately, that is not quite the only thing he inherited. Like his father he appears to have slipped into madness towards the end of his already short life. But it was another factor - a far more visible one - that attracted the whispers of Versailles. Louis suffered from macrocephaly - a condition which leaves the sufferer with an abnormally large head. This was only further highlighted by the prince's very short stature. The contrast between his short frame and his large head was too obvious not to notice.

It was not the first time the court of France had seen examples of deformities involving the head. The difference was that the previous examples had been used more for entertainment. François I and Louis XII both had the same court jester who suffered from the opposite condition: microcephaly (having a smaller head than usual). His name was Triboulet and lived during the latter part of the fifteenth century to around 1536. Luckily for Louis, his birth rank protected him from having to make his living as a royal fool - although it most likely did nothing to protect him from the snickering of his co-aristocrats. 

Billedresultat for louis iii de bourbon conde
The few official portraits of the prince diplomatically
omitted showing the macrocephaly

Macrocephaly in itself can have a very different impact on the patient's life. Some have quite normal lives and suffer little to no further health issues. It would appear that Louis had few other bodily defects but - as mentioned - his mental health deteriorated. However, this could easily have come from his father.
His skin-tone was noted to be not quite the pearly white otherwise prescribed by aristocratic beauty standards at the time. Instead, it was yellowish - some sources claims that it had a rather orange hue. 

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