Philip IV (1605–1665)

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Philip IV (1605–1665)

Philip IV (1605–1665), king of Spain from 1621 to 1665. During Philip IV's reign Spain was engaged in foreign wars and torn by internal revolt.

Born on April 8, 1605, Philip IV succeeded his father, Philip III, in 1621. He was more intelligent than his father but like him allowed his government to be run by minister-favorites. Philip's principal minister, Gaspar de Guzmán, Count of Olivares, dominated his councils and was the effective ruler of Spain for more than 20 years. In 1627 the ruinous expenses of Spain's involvement in the Thirty Years War forced the government to declare itself bankrupt; the war effort continued, however, and the Mantuan campaign (1628–1631) led to an open conflict with France, which became intensified in 1635.

Spanish troops at first came close to Paris, but the situation rapidly deteriorated. Olivares's desperate attempts to raise funds for the prosecution of the war provoked dissent and rebellion, and in 1640 Catalonia went into open revolt, murdered the king's agent there, and welcomed French aid in its struggle against the government of Castile. Soon afterward, Portugal rebelled and declared itself independent from Spain. Olivares's counterpart in France, Cardinal Richelieu, supplied money to both Catalonia and Portugal as French troops occupied Catalonia.

In January 1643, after visiting the war front in Aragon, Philip dismissed Olivares and declared that he would rule without a favorite. However, he soon employed one in the person of Don Luis de Haro, a nephew of Olivares. On May 19, 1643, the Spanish infantry was vanquished by the French at Rocroi. Since the beginning of the 16th century, the Spanish infantry had been regarded as the best in Europe; its defeat symbolized the downfall of Spain as a military power.

A dreary succession of setbacks marked the second half of Philip's reign. Another bankruptcy was declared in 1647, and in the same year unsuccessful revolts against Spanish rule erupted in Sicily and Naples. These events convinced Richelieu and his successor, Cardinal Mazarin, that, by pursuing an all-out war against Spain, France could gain considerable land and power in the European theater. Thus the war between the two countries continued after the Peace of Westphalia (by which Spain officially recognized the independence of the United Provinces) had concluded the Thirty Years War in 1648. Although civil war in France (the Fronde) gave the Spanish some slight respite, it could not stave off the inevitable. For although Catalonia was won back in 1652, bankruptcy was again declared in 1653.

The union of Cromwell's England with France in the war against Spain proved to be the coup de grace. Spain lost both Dunkerque and Jamaica to the English. In the Peace of the Pyrenees, concluded with France in 1659, Spain gave up Artois and territories in the Spanish Netherlands, together with Rosellón and part of Cerdaña. As part of the "peace package," a marriage was arranged between Philip IV's daughter, Maria Theresa, and the young Louis XIV. The waiver of the Infanta's inheritance rights to Spanish territory was contingent on the payment of a dowry of 500,000 escudos, which the French as well as the Spanish knew could never be paid. After Philip's death this clause was used as a pretext for the seizure of still more Spanish territory in the Low Countries during the War of Devolution.

Philip IV died on Sept. 17, 1665, just before Portugal's independence was recognized. In the course of his reign he had married twice. His first wife, Elizabeth of Bourbon, died in 1644; their only child died 2 years later. His second wife, Maria Anna of Austria, gave birth to one son who survived, the hapless Charles II, who was destined to be the last Hapsburg monarch of Spain.


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Philip IV (1605–1665)

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