Our new season is now open: Spring 1677 !
- Relations: neutral toward England
- Current Ruler: Carlos II
- Religion: Roman Catholicism
In 1621 Philip III died. Philip IV (1621-1665), a boy of 16, left the effective powers of kingship in the hands of his former gentleman of the chamber, the Count (later Count-Duke) de Olivares. Militarily, Spain was in a favourable position to restart the war with the United Provinces at the expiration of the truce in 1621. Despite enormous sums sent annually from Castile to Flanders, the Spanish armies could not break Dutch resistance. From 1630, when Sweden and France actively intervened in the war, Spain rapidly lost the initiative.
Olivares, an able politician directing the Spanish government, presented to the king a number of plans for a far-reaching reform of government and society. None of these plans was put into practice. In 1639 riots and open rebellion broke out in Catalonia. As a result the liberties and privileges of Catalonia were fully restored in 1652. The revolt of Catalonia gave the Portuguese their opportunity. the Portuguese nobility decided to seize power in Lisbon and proclaimed the Duke de Bragança as King John IV of Portugal (December 1640). In 1647, popular revolutions broke out in Naples and Palermo (Sicily), and soon these two cities were in the hands of revolutionary governments. Philip IV came to terms with the United Provinces, recognizing their full independence (Treaty of Münster, January 1648). In 1668, Spain formally recognized the independence of Portugal.
Philip IV's widow, Maria Anna of Austria, is acting regent for Carlos II (1665+). She allowed her government to be dominated by her confessor, the Austrian Jesuit Johann Eberhard (Juan Everardo) Nithard. In 1669, Nithard was overthrown by Juan Jose de Austria, an illegitimate son of Philip IV. Don Juan José has planned some promising reforms. In two successive wars with France (1667-68, 1672-present), Spain has spent a fortune in trying to hold the Netherlands.
There can be no doubt about the economic and political decline of Spain in the 17th century and especially in its second half. The court of Carlos II is neither financially nor psychologically capable of playing the patronage role that Philip IV's court had played.
- Pedro Ronquillo, current Ambassador to the English Court