Philip IV of Spain

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Philip IV of Spain

Philip IV (Spanish: Felipe IV) (April 8, 1605September 17, 1665) was the king of Spain, from 1621 until his death, and king of Portugal as Philip III (Portuguese: Filipe III) until 1640. The eldest son of Philip III (and his wife Margaret), Philip IV was born at Valladolid. His chief minister was Gaspar de Guzmán.

His reign, after a few passing years of barren successes, was characterized by political and military decay and disaster. He has been held responsible for the fall of Spain, which was, however, mostly due to internal causes beyond the control of either a capable ruler or a despot. Philip certainly possessed more energy, both mental and physical, than his father: his handwritten translation of Francesco Guicciardini's texts on political history still exists, and he was a fine horseman and keen hunter.

His artistic taste was shown by his patronage of Diego Velázquez, and his love of letters by his favour to Lope de Vega, Calderón, and other dramatists. He is even credited, on fairly probable testimony, with a share at least in the composition of several comedies. His good intentions were of no avail to his government. Feeling himself not yet qualified to reign when he ascended to the throne at the age of 16, he allowed himself to be guided by the most capable man he could find. His favourite, Olivares, was a far more honest man than the Duke of Lerma, and was more fit for the place of prime minister than any Spaniard of the time. However, Philip lacked the confidence to free himself from Olivares' influence when he had come of age, and, with Olivares' encouragement, he busied himself with amusements.

When, in 1643, the disasters falling on the monarchy on all sides led to the dismissal of Olivares, Philip had lost the power to devote himself to hard work. After a brief struggle with the task of directing the administration of the most extensive and the worst organized monarchy in Europe, he sank back into his pleasures and was governed by other favourites. His political opinions were those he had inherited from his father and grandfather. He thought it his duty to support the Austrian Habsburgs and the cause of the Roman Catholic Church against the Protestants, to assert his sovereignty over the Dutch United Provinces, and to extend the dominions of his house. The utter exhaustion of his people in the course of a hopeless struggle with the Netherlands, France and England was seen by him with sympathy, but he considered it an unavoidable misfortune and not the result of his own errors, since he could not be expected to renounce his rights or to desert the cause of God and the Church.

In public he maintained a bearing of rigid solemnity, and was seen to laugh only three times in the course of his life. But in private he indulged in horseplay and very coarse immorality. His court was grossly vicious. The early death of his eldest son, Baltasar Carlos, was unquestionably due to debauchery encouraged by the gentlemen entrusted by the king with his education. The lesson shocked the king, but its effect soon wore off. Philip IV died broken-hearted in 1665, expressing the hope that his surviving son, Carlos, would be more fortunate than himself.





With Elizabeth Bourbon (or Elisabeth of France, 1603-1644, daughter of Henry IV of France) - married 1615 at Burgos

With Mariana of Austria (or Marie-Anne of Austria) - in 1649


The best accounts of Philip IV will be found in the Estudios del reinado de Felipe IV, by Don A. Canovas del Castillo (Madrid, 1889), and in the introduction by Don F Silvela to his edition of the Cartas de Sor Maria de Agreda y del rey Felipe IV (Madrid, 1885-1886).

Preceded by:
Philip II/ III
King of Portugal Succeeded by:
John IV
King of Spain Charles II
King of Naples
King of Sicily
de:Philipp IV. (Spanien)

es:Felipe IV de España fr:Philippe IV d'Espagne ja:フェリペ4世 nl:Filips IV van Spanje pt:Filipe III de Portugal


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