Ancient history

Philip IV (King of Spain)

Philip IV (Valladolid, April 8, 1605 - Madrid, September 17, 1665 ), known as the Great or the "king-Planet", king of the Spains and the Indies after the death of his father Philip III of Spain, from March 31, 1621 to his death. He also bore the titles of King of the Two Sicilies, King of Portugal, Sovereign of the Netherlands.

The very first years of the reign of Philip IV saw the strengthening of Habsburg preeminence in Europe, but the constant wars he had to fight led to the decline of the Spanish monarchy. However, if history has remembered him as a poor politician, Philip IV was among the greatest patrons and greatest collectors of his time.


Felipe Domingo Víctor de la Cruz was born in Valladolid on April 8, 1605. He was the third child and first son of King Philip III and his wife, Archduchess Margaret of Austria. He was baptized seven weeks later, in the conventual church of San Pablo in Valladolid, with one of his father's favorites (validos), the Duke of Lerme, as godfather.

As the death of Philip III approached, palace intrigues multiplied, with courtiers vying for the favors of the future king, Prince Philip of Asturias. The fight became fiercer between the Duke of Lerme, associated with his son-in-law, the Count of Lemos (es), and his cousin, Fernando de Borja (es), gentleman of the Prince's Chamber, against his own sons, the Duke of Uceda and Count of Saldaña. The latter were supported in particular by the Count-Duke of Olivares, also a gentleman of the Prince's Chamber. In 1618 came the disgrace of the Duke of Lerme, in favor of the Duke of Uceda.

Philip III died on March 31, 1621, following a fever contracted in 1619, on his return from a trip to Portugal, where he had had the Prince of Asturias recognized as heir to the Portuguese crown.

Domestic politics

The day after the death of Philip III, Olivares began to build a faction close to royal power, relying on his uncle, Baltasar de Zúñiga (es). The latter was appointed Prime Minister by Philip IV, in place of the Duke of Uceda:the faction of Olivares had won. From April 10, 1621, the king granted Olivares, according to the consecrated formula (“Conde de Olivares, cubríos”), the dignity of Grand of Spain. When Baltasar de Zúñiga died in 1622, he made him his principal valido and minister.

The government of the Count-Duke of Olivares (1621-1643)

A reform policy

During his government, the count-duke launched several reforms in order to maintain the Spanish power in Europe and in the world. These changes had four purposes:the reform of public life, the encouragement of the economy, the improvement of finances, and the reorganization of the army. He tried to unite the Spanish monarchies by imposing Castilian laws and customs on other parts of the peninsula, especially in the areas of taxation, administration and law.

In order to work for the improvement of public life, Olivares intended first of all to attack the problem of corruption:he ordered the arrest of the Duke of Uceda and the Duke of Osuna, confiscated the property of the Duke of Lerme and brought Don Rodrigo Calderón to justice, who was sentenced to death and executed. By a royal decree, he made people who held public office subject to an inventory of their property. This work was entrusted to the “Reform Council” (Junta de Reformación), whose functions were gradually extended to overseeing the entire population, with the most illusory projects, such as the abolition of prostitution. Finally, to promote the recovery of demography in Spain, Olivares prohibited emigration, favoring on the contrary immigration and large families. He was also concerned with education and had the first Royal College (Colegio Real de Madrid) built in Madrid in 1629, as well as other institutions in the rest of the kingdom, mostly run by Jesuits.

In the financial and economic fields, Olivares was confronted with a serious economic crisis as well as a sharp increase in expenditure. He had recourse to the creation of new taxes, while seeking to distribute them more equitably. But these novelties were widely criticized and opposed, with arms if necessary. The nobility refused plans for a tax on rents or a tax on luxury goods. In order to improve trade and bring money to the monarchy, Olivares tried to create a national bank, constituting its capital by an exceptional contribution on the heritages superior to 2000 ducats:the nobility still opposed it, and the project failed. Olivares had to resort to selling more public offices, manipulating currency and metal prices, borrowing from Portuguese Jewish bankers, demanding new contributions from the Cortes or temporarily suspending payments.

The crisis of 1640

Finally, in the military field, Olivares tried to impose the union of the kingdoms of the peninsula. It is for this purpose that he gradually set up the project of the Union of Arms of 1625, in which each territory was to participate in the maintenance of a common army up to the number of its inhabitants. But Castile, which shared alone in the growing expenses of the monarchy, began to show signs of unrest from the late 1630s. Olivares therefore decided to involve the other kingdoms of the peninsula.

Catalonia uprising.

In Catalonia, the conflict had begun as early as 1626, with Catalonia's refusal to collaborate in the Union of Arms. The war against France further increased tensions between the Generalitat of Catalonia and the central government:Spanish and Italian troops, fighting against the French in Roussillon, caused major disorder and destruction. On June 7, 1640, the feast day of Corpus Christi, between 400 and 500 agricultural workers (called “reapers” or segadors in Catalan) entered Barcelona, ​​causing riots. The tensions between the Spanish monarchy and the Generalitat intensified, until the rupture in September:the Generalitat of Catalonia proclaimed the Catalan Republic, then, in January 1641, proclaimed Louis XIII, king of France, count of Barcelona and ruler of Catalonia. On January 26, at the Battle of Montjuïc, a Franco-Catalan army successfully defended Barcelona against the army of Philip IV, led by the Marquis de los Vélez. Spanish troops were driven out of Catalonia for ten years.

In Aragon, faced with the increase in taxes, the local nobility reacted by proclaiming a new king in the person of the Duke of Hijar. But the Spanish troops put down the revolt and the Duke of Hijar was consigned to his lands, without being able to leave them, even to participate in the Cortes of Aragon.

In Portugal, the nobility rebelled against the projects of Olivares, seeing threatened the political and administrative separation of the Portuguese State (guaranteed in 1580), the financial autonomy of the Portuguese territories and finally the Portuguese colonies of Asia and America, attacked by the United Provinces since the resumption of the war. In December 1640, a noble conspiracy proclaimed the Duke of Braganza King of Portugal under the name of John IV, who accepted him on December 1:this was the start of a 28-year-long war, called the "War of Acclamation". or "Restoration of Independence". Having obtained the support of England and France and concluded peace with the United Provinces, he repelled the Spanish army.

Andalusia, finally, was also agitated by separatist troubles. In 1641, the Marquess of Ayamonte and the Duke of Medina Sidonia (es) organized a conspiracy, based on the general discontent of the Andalusian nobility and population. The goal was to create a new state, led by the duke. This revolt, although supported by Portugal, was promptly crushed.

The fall of Olivares

Philip IV, on his return from the Catalan front where he had again experienced defeat before Lérida in 1642, ordered on January 23, 1643, in Madrid, the banishment of Olivares. Plans for union were largely abandoned, with Spain continuing to be ruled as a collection of separate kingdoms. The autonomy of each territory was thus reaffirmed and reinforced, based on the return to the customs and laws of each territory or neo-foralism.

Personal government (1643-1665)

After the fall of his minister, Philip IV decided to govern alone, before taking over in 1643 as valido Olivares' nephew, Luis de Haro, who had a more limited influence, however. The king also benefited from the advice of a Spanish mystic, María de Ágreda, with whom he had a long correspondence.

A succession of uprisings

In May 1643 the battle of Rocroi took place which saw the end of the period of supremacy of the tercios on the European battlefields.

The positions of Philip IV having reached their low point in 1643, the king set out to reconquer Catalonia. In 1644 he recovered Monzón and Lérida, where he swore obedience to Catalan laws. In 1648, the Treaty of Westphalia made it possible to close several fronts; only France remained at war with Spain. Knowing of the growing discontent of the Catalan population against the French occupation, Philip IV decided to attack and in 1651 an army led by Juan José of Austria began a siege of Barcelona. The French army surrendered in 1652 to the king himself, but kept Roussillon, a possession retained by France in the Treaty of the Pyrenees of 1659. Philippe IV was recognized as sovereign and Juan José as viceroy in Catalonia. The king for his part signed obedience to Catalan laws, and was able to turn his attention to Portugal.

The Portuguese, very united around John IV, provided an enormous effort, paying the heavy war taxes - refused in much less quantity to Olivarès shortly before. Portugal thus set up in a short time a formidable military device based on a set of fortresses built on the model of Vauban and a coordinated system of armies capable of monitoring the borders or resisting an invasion and regular militias entrusted to the provincial fidalgos. Thus, from 1644, the Portuguese forces launched incursions:Matias de Albuquerque conquered the city of Montijo in Extremadura, then, on May 26, 1644, won the battle of Montijo; for his part the Count of Cantanhede took the important Castilian stronghold of Valencia de Alcántara. Philip IV sought to react, but the Spanish army was successively defeated at the battles of Elvas, January 14, 1659, Ameixial, June 8, 1663, Castelo Rodrigo, July 7, 1664, and Montes Claros, June 17, 1665:the Portugal remained independent. But even having lost Portugal, Philip IV retained his title of "king of all the Spains" (Rey de todas las Españas).

The kingdom of Naples was also agitated, by food riots in 1647. Revolts of the same type broke out in Sicily or Andalusia, but were gradually reduced and crushed by local troops.

A brilliant cultural policy

Philippe IV is undoubtedly one of the greatest patrons and collectors of his time. He was very young, sensitive to the arts and their protection. He brought the young Vélasquez, barely 20 years old, to the Court, supported him throughout his career and ennobled him, as he protected most of the Spanish painters of his time. He commissioned important works from many artists who were also foreign, such as the Flemish Rubens, the French Nicolas Poussin, the Lorrain Claude Gellée or the Italian Massimo Stanzione.

Philippe IV was also a great collector, certainly the greatest of the 17th century. He bought many old paintings, notably at the sale of the estate of the late King Charles I of England, his brother-in-law, or from the estate of Rubens. He accumulated paintings by Raphaël, Mantegna, Dürer, Titian, Tintoretto, Giovanni Lanfranco, Aniello Falcone, Poussin, bringing together more than 800 paintings in total:the current collection of the Prado Museum owes him a lot. As such, we can really speak of the "golden century" of Spanish culture for the reign of Philip IV.

The king was also a protector of writers and protected Lope de Vega, Pedro Calderón de la Barca and other writers. He is also credited with the composition of several plays.

In the architectural field, he began the construction of the Buen Retiro Palace, in Madrid.

A chaotic foreign policy

The struggle with the United Provinces (1621-1648)

The Twelve Years' Truce having ended in 1621, hostilities between Spain and the United Provinces resumed. Indeed, throughout the truce, talks with a view to a definitive peace had continued, but the points of divergence had persisted9. The Spaniards undertook a final military campaign to bring down the northern provinces:first a blockade was organized against Dutch interests in the ports of Europe controlled by the Spaniards. Military operations also resumed:the Spanish assault on the fortress of Bergen-op-Zoom was repelled in 1622, but Stadtholder Maurice of Nassau was killed during the siege of Breda, led by Ambrogio Spinola in 1624-1625. /P>

However, after this victory, the tide turned definitively in favor of the Dutch Republic:Frédéric-Henri, half-brother of Stadtholder Maurice, seized the strategic fortress of Bois-le-Duc in 162910, then in 1632 fell the places of Venlo, Roermond and Maastricht during the "March of the Meuse". The cardinal-infante don Fernando, brother of the king, after having defeated in Germany, at the battle of Nördlingen, the Protestants of the Holy Empire and the Swedes, was put in charge of the Netherlands and invaded in 1635 the Dutch territory, in the hope of ending the war, but his initiative was paralyzed by the entry into the war of France in 1635.

The response of the Dutch also took place at sea, the European powers striving to develop their trade overseas, and soon reached the colonies themselves:fighting raged in the East Indies, in Macau, Ceylon, Formosa or the Philippines as in the West Indies, especially in Brazil and the West Indies. The most important of these conflicts was the Batavo-Portuguese war:the Dutch seized Recife, Brazil. Also in 1628, the corsair Piet Hein seized the treasure of the Indian fleet:in the bay of Matanzas, on the Cuban coast, he got hold of a booty worth more than 11 million florins, which was used to finance the Dutch army for 8 months. Above all, the Spanish fleet was completely defeated at the Battle of the Downs, in 1639, by Rear Admiral Maarten Tromp - this naval battle marked the end of Spanish supremacy on the seas.

On January 30, 1648, the conflict ended with the signing between Spain and the United Provinces of the Treaty of Münster, which was only one of several agreements resulting in the Peace of Westphalia which concluded the Thirty Years' War. . The Republic of the United Provinces was recognized as an independent state, its territory including all the territories conquered in 1648.

The conflicts with England (1625-1628 and 1654-1660)

On the English side, the accession to the throne of Charles I caused the resumption of hostilities with Spain. However, the English fleet failed at the Battle of Cadiz in 1625, where it failed to capture the city. The destruction of much of the English fleet gave Spain respite, while Parliament would have preferred a naval attack on the Spanish colonies, hoping that the capture of the Spanish fleet would have provided spoils to finance the war.

In the colonies of the West Indies, commercial and economic tensions increased, until the outbreak of the Anglo-Spanish War, in 1654-1660, against the Commonwealth of Cromwell. The Spaniards were defeated in the naval battle of Cadiz in 1656, then the battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1657, and especially the capture of Jamaica in 1655 by the English Admiral Penn and General Venables. Operations also took place on land, with the English taking part in the Battle of the Dunes, a great French victory of 1658. The war was officially ended in September 1660, after Charles II was restored to power in May of the same year. Spain did not definitively recognize the loss of Jamaica until 1670.

The war with France (1635-1659)

It was under the leadership of Cardinal Richelieu, minister of Louis XIII, that the anti-Spanish policy of France resumed. He supported first of all, by giving them arms and financial means, the Protestants of the Holy Empire at war against the Habsburgs, during the "furred war". Then, in 1635, France declared war on Spain. The French were first defeated, in 1635, at the Battle of Corbie, leading the Spanish army of the Cardinal-Infante to the gates of Paris, which however had to withdraw for lack of resources. In the south, the Spanish army was stopped at Leucate in 1637.

The French reacted by invading northern Italy, in the Valtellina, cutting off the Spanish communication routes between Spain and the Netherlands. In 1639, Louis XIII focused his efforts on Catalonia, which he invaded after having besieged three times (1640, 1641 and 1642) and finally took the fortress of Salses:he received from the Generalitat in 1640 the title of "Count of Barcelona , Roussillon and Cerdagne”. But the failure of the Spanish tercios was complete at the battle of Rocroi in 1643 where, if the cavalry could flee, the infantry was massacred or captured. Defeated again, especially at the Battle of the Dunes in 1658, Philip IV was pushed to peace.

The Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659 put an end to 24 years of war against France. It was negotiated by Cardinal Mazarin and don Luis de Haro and signed on November 7, 1659 on the island of Pheasants, in the middle of the Bidasoa. By this treaty, Spain lost, in the Netherlands, the county of Artois, as well as several places in Flanders, Hainaut and Luxembourg, as well as Roussillon. Finally, the treaty provided for the marriage of Louis XIV with the Infanta of Spain Maria Theresa of Austria, eldest daughter of the King of Spain and niece of Queen Mother Anne of Austria. The treaty sanctioned the weakening of the Spanish crown and the preponderance of France in Europe.

Death and posterity

In early September 1665, the king began to feel unwell, his stools being bloody - possibly he was suffering from dysentery. He died on the 17th of the same month, after great suffering due to illness. He was buried in the royal crypt of the Church of El Escorial. In his honor was erected by Carlo Rainaldi in the same year a catafalque in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.

The French traveler Antoine de Brunel left in his Voyage d'Espagne a very caricatural portrait of the Spanish sovereign:

“His actions and occupations are always the same […]. So the weeks, the months and the years and all the parts of the day bring no change to the regime of his life, nor make him see anything new […]. He is so serious that he walks and behaves like an animated statue. »

Far from this official image of hieratic sovereign, Philip IV was a very dynamic king, passionate about hunting, bulls and women - he had many illegitimate children. He had great energy, physical and mental. He also had great political thought, even translating texts by Francesco Guicciardini on political theory. Although considered responsible for the decline of Spain, it is certain that it was very difficult for a monarch with universalist pretensions to face the multiple revolts and conflicts.



The ancestry of Philip IV illustrates the consanguinity of the Spanish branch of the House of Habsburg. It is one of the causes of his decline, with the end of the debility of his son - from his marriage with his niece - Charles II. Their daughter Marguerite-Thérèse, who died at 21, married her uncle Emperor Leopold I, to whom she bore a daughter who married the Elector of Bavaria and died at the age of 22. Their third son after 2 deaths in the cradle, "the strongest in rights, the weakest in power" (Saint-Simon), was designated by Charles II as his heir but died the following year at the age of 8. The closest heir being a Bourbon (the future Philip V of Spain), it was the end of the Habsburgs of Spain.

Marriages and descendants

Philippe IV married in 1615 Élisabeth de France (1602-1644), eldest of the daughters of King Henri IV and his wife Marie de Médicis. They had eight children:

Marie-Marguerite or María Margarita (August 14, 1621);
Marguerite Marie Catherine or Margarita María Catalina (November 25, 1623 - December 29, 1623);
Marie-Eugénie or María Eugenia (21 November 1625 - 1627);
Isabella Maria Theresa or Isabel María Teresa (1627);
Baltasar Carlos of Spain, Prince of Asturias ( October 17, 1629 - October 9, 1646);
Marie-Anne Antonia or Mariana Antonia (January 17, 1635 - December 6, 1636);
Marie-Thérèse or María Teresa (September 10, 1638 – July 30, 1683), wife of Louis XIV King of France and Navarre
stillborn (October 6, 1644). Elisabeth died that day in childbirth, giving birth to her last child.

He married his second wife in 1649 to his niece Archduchess Marie-Anne of Austria (1635-1696), daughter of Emperor Ferdinand III and his wife the Infanta Marie-Anne of Spain (older sister of Philip IV and first cousin of her husband Ferdinand III). They had five children:

Marguerite-Thérèse or Margarita Teresa (12 July 1651 – 12 March 1673), married her uncle Leopold I, sovereign of the Holy Empire in 1666;
Marie Ambrosie de la Conception or María Ambrosia de la Concepción (December 7, 1655 - December 20, 1655);
Philippe Prosper or Felipe Próspero, Prince of Asturias (November 20, 1657 - November 1, 1661);
Thomas Charles or Tomas Carlos (1658–1659);
Charles or Carlos, Prince of Asturias, who succeeded him on the throne of Spain (November 6, 1661 – November 1, 1700).

From his illegitimate love with the daughter of Baron de Chirel, he had a son:

Francisco Fernando (1626).

With the theater actress María Calderón he had an illegitimate child:

Jean Joseph (1629 – 1679), recognized by the king despite doubtful paternity.

He finally had other bastards, including:

Alfonso de Santo Tomás, Bishop of Malaga;
Fernando Valdés, Governor of Novara;
Alonso Antonio de San Martín, Bishop of Oviedo;
brother Juan del Sacramento, preacher.

In literature and cinema

The life of Philip IV has inspired several artistic works:

The amazed King. Chronic. Scherzo en roi major allegro ma non troppo (Crónica del rey pasmado), book written in 1989 by Gonzalo Torrente Ballester - Ironic portrait of the last years of the reign of Philip IV.
The Amazed King, film directed by Imanol Uribe in 1991 - He was nominated for fourteen Goyas and won eight.
The Adventures of Captain Alatriste, books written between 1996 and 2006 by Arturo Pérez-Reverte - The adventures of the famous soldier of the tercios Alatriste have as background the reign of Philip IV.
Captain Alatriste, film directed in 2006 by Agustín Díaz Yanes - This adaptation won three Goyas in 2007.