Visual History of the World




From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
Gothic Art
Renaissance  Art
Baroque and Rococo Art
The Art of Asia
Neoclassicism, Romanticism  Art
Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
The Modern Era
The World Wars and Interwar Period
The Contemporary World

Dictionary of Art and Artists


The Early Modern Period

16th - 18th century


The smooth transition from the Middle Ages to the Modern Age is conventionally fixed on such events as the Reformation and the discovery of the "New World," which brought about the emergence of a new image of man and his world. Humanism, which spread out of Italy, also made an essential contribution to this with its promotion of a critical awareness of Christianity and the Church. The Reformation eventually broke the all-embracing power of the Church. After the Thirty Years' War, the concept of a universal empire was also nullified. The era of the nation-state began, bringing with it the desire to build up political and economic power far beyond Europe. The Americas, Africa, and Asia provided regions of expansion for the Europeans.

Proportions of the Human Figure by Leonardo da Vinci (drawing, ca. 1490)
is a prime example of the new approach of Renaissance
artists and scientists to the anatomy of the human body.



Spain and Portugal



Voyages of discovery and merchant shipping made Portugal and Spain the leading sea powers of Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth century. Under  Philip II, Spain also became the major force behind the Counter-Reformation. A rapid economic and political decline took place in Portugal after 1580 and in Spain after 1600, accelerated by the often weak and conservative governments. This decline lasted until around 1750, when reforms associated with enlightened absolutism elsewhere were carried out in both countries. In the wake of the French Revolution, both countries fell under Napoleon's control.


High Point and Decline of Spanish Power

Spain's dominant position in Europe and the New World, attained under Philip II, declined under his successors. Under the last Spanish Habsburg the country was practically bankrupt, and its political influence greatly diminished.


From a position of strength, 7 Philip II projected Spanish power across Europe.

He supported the Austrian Habsburgs against the Protestants, ended the war with France in 1559, and married Elizabeth of Valois, the daughter of Catherine de Medicis, in his third marriage. In the context of the Counter-Reformation he financed the Catholic League in the French Wars of Religion, but was unable to prevent Henry of Navarre from becoming king of France in 1589.


7 Philip II king of Spain and Portugal by Sofonisba Anguissola

Philip was married four times and had children with three of his wives. Even so, most of his children died young.

Philip's first wife was his double first cousin, Maria Manuela, Princess of Portugal; she was daughter of John III of Portugal and Catherine of Habsburg. Philip and Maria were both young and the prince displayed no affection for his wife. The marriage produced one son, at whose birth Maria died.

Carlos, Prince of Asturias, (July 8, 1545 – July 24, 1568), died unmarried and without issue.

Philip's second wife was his first cousin once removed, Queen Mary I of England. Mary was significantly older than Philip, and the marriage was political - although Philip did his best to be kind to the queen. By this marriage, Philip became jure uxoris King of England, but the marriage produced no children and Mary died in 1558.

Philip's third wife was Elisabeth of Valois, the eldest daughter of Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici. Elisabeth was very young at the time, and Philip was very attached to her. For the most part, their union was quite harmonious. Their marriage produced five children. Elisabeth died hours after a miscarriage. Philip deeply mourned this loss.

Miscarried twin daughters (1564)
Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain, married Albert VII, Archduke of Austria, but had no issue.
Catherine Michelle of Spain, married Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy, and had issue.
miscarried son (1568)

Philip's fourth and final wife was Anne of Austria, who was also his niece. This marriage produced four sons and a daughter. The king was said to have been very much in love with the young and fair Anna. (There are no records of mistresses during this time in his life.) Anna had a personality very much like his own, and he was devoted to her. Their children were

Ferdinand, Prince of Asturias: 4 December 1571 – 18 October 1578, died young
Carlos Lorenzo: 12 August 1573 – 30 June 1575, died young
Diego, Prince of Asturias: 15 August 1575 – 21 November 1582, died young
Philip: 3 April 1578 – 31 March 1621 (future king, Philip III of Spain)
Maria: 14 February 1580 – 5 August 1583, died young



Maria Manuela of Portugal,
Princess of Asturias

Maria Manuela of Portugal

Maria Manuela, Princess of Portugal (1527–1545; Mary Emmanuella) was a daughter of King John III of Portugal and his wife Catherine of Habsburg. She was Princess of Asturias as spouse of Philip, Prince of Asturias, and between 1527 and 1535 Princess of Portugal in her own right.

Maria was born in Coimbra on October 15, 1527 and was one of the few children of John III to survive childhood. She married her double-cousin Prince Philip of Asturias (future Philip II of Spain and I of Portugal) and was the mother of Prince Carlos, a deformed child who was heir of the Spanish crown.

Maria died soon after she gave birth to Don Carlos of Spain (1545–1568) on August 12, 1545 in Valladolid, Spain.


Mary I of England Portrait by Anthonis Mor, 1554
Mary I, Master John, 1544
Mary I c. 1555, unknown artist

Queen Mary I of England

Born to Henry VIII and Catharine of Aragon in 1516, Mary Tudor took the English throne in 1553. In 1554, she married Felipe II. She died in 1558. Sitting on a sumptuous embroidered velvet armchair, the queen wears a gray dress with a floral pattern, and a maroon velvet coat. This rich clothing is in keeping with her high status, as are the jewels on her clothing, head, cuffs and belt. A tear-shaped pearl pendent hangs from her collar. Her right hand holds a red rose that symbolizes the Tudor family, and the left has a pair of gloves, which are also a symbol of distinction.
This portrait combines the meticulous description characteristic of Flemish painting with the majestic distance imposed by the sitter's dignity, which Mor masterfully captures in this work that became a model for later court portraits.

Before marrying Felipe II, the queen had been engaged to Carlos V, who kept this portrait with him when he retired to the Monastery of Yuste. It was already mentioned in the Alcázar Palace in Madrid by 1600.


Elisabeth of Valois by Juan Pantoja de la Cruz

Elisabeth de Valois, 1568,  by Antonio Mor


Elisabeth of Valois

She was born in the Chateau of Fontainebleau. Her childhood was spent in the French royal nursery, where her father insisted she share her bedroom with her future sister-in-law, Mary I, Queen of Scots, who was about her same age. Even though Elisabeth had to give precedence to Mary, (since Mary was already a crowned queen regnant) the two would remain close friends for the rest of their lives. Elisabeth was described as being shy, timid and very much in awe of her formidable mother; although there is also evidence that Catherine was tender and loving toward Elisabeth. (This was certainly evident in her letters to Elisabeth.)

Elisabeth married Philip II of Spain ("Philip the Catholic"), son of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and Isabella of Portugal in 1559. Originally married via proxy at Notre Dame (with the Duke of Alba standing in for Philip) prior to leaving France, the actual ceremony took place in Guadalajara, Spain upon her arrival. The marriage was a result of the Peace of Cateau Cambrésis (1559). His second wife, Mary I of England had recently died; making Elisabeth of Valois Philip's third wife.

Philip was completely enchanted by his 14 year old bride, and within a short period of time had given up his mistress. Despite the significant age difference, Elisabeth was also quite pleased with her husband. (In letters to her mother, she proclaimed herself to be fortunate to have married so charming a prince.) Philip enjoyed hosting chivalric tournaments to entertain his wife. Elisabeth would play liege lady to the three young Princes of the Spanish Court Don Carlos, Don Juan (John of Austria, illegitimate son of Charles V), and Alessandro Farnese (Duke of Parma, and son of Charles V's illegitimate daughter Margaret).

Elisabeth had originally been betrothed to Philip's son, Don Carlos, but political complications unexpectedly necessitated instead a marriage to Philip. Her relationship with her troubled stepson Don Carlos was warm and friendly. Despite reports of his progressively bizarre behavior, Don Carlos was always kind and gentle to Elisabeth. When it eventually became necessary for Philip to lock him away (which shortly lead to the Prince’s demise) Elisabeth cried for days.

Philip was very attached to Elisabeth, staying close by her side even when she was ill with smallpox. Elisabeth's first pregnancy in 1564 ended with a miscarriage of twin girls. She later gave birth to Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain on August 12, 1566, and then to Isabella's younger sister Catherine Michelle of Spain October 10, 1567. Elisabeth had another miscarriage on October 3, 1568, and died the same day, along with her newborn infant son.

After the death of Elisabeth, Catherine de' Medici offered her younger daughter Marguerite as a bride for Philip. Philip declined the offer.


Ana de Austria, by Bartolomé González y Serrano

Queen Ana de Austria by Sánchez Coello


Queen Ana de Austria

Anna of Austria (Cigales, Valladolid, 1 November 1549 – Badajoz, 26 October 1580), was Queen consort of Spain and Portugal.

She was the first daughter of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor and Maria of Spain. She was born in Spain, but lived in Vienna from the age of four.

Anna's maternal grandparents were Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and Isabella of Portugal, her paternal grandparents were Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor and Anna of Bohemia and Hungary, Charles and Ferdinand's mother was Joanna of Castile, Joanna was the daughter of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. She was born in Spain, but lived in Vienna from the age of four. She had many other siblings some became Holy roman emperors, among her sisters was Elisabeth of Austria who became the Queen of France.

Anna was betrothed to Don Carlos, son of Philip II and heir to the Spanish throne, but he died in 1568. Philip II lost his third wife in the same year and a marriage was arranged between Anna and Philip II, despite the fact that Philip was also Anna's uncle. Pope Pius V first opposed the marriage, but finally consented and gave a dispensation for it, and they were married in Prague on 4 May 1570.

The king was said to have been very much in love with the young and fair Anna. (There are no records of mistresses during this time in his life.) Anna had a personality very much like his own, and he was devoted to her. Queen Anna was also vivid and cheerful, and managed to ease up some of the stiff atmosphere at the Spanish court. She enjoyed art and came on good terms with her step-daughters.

Philip II and Anna of Austria had 5 children:

Ferdinand, Prince of Asturias: 4 December 1571 – 18 October 1578
Carlos Lorenzo: 12 August 1573 – 30 June 1575
Diego, Prince of Asturias: 15 August 1575 – 21 November 1582
Philip: 3 April 1578 – 31 March 1621 (future king, Philip III of Spain)
Maria: 14 February 1580 – 5 August 1583

In 1580 Philip II obtained the throne of Portugal; Anna became Queen of Portugal. However, she died the same year, victim of a contagious disease which had also struck King Philip.

In 1571 a Spanish-papal fleet under Juan de Austria won a major naval victory over the Ottomans at Lepanto  9 (The Battle of Lepanto).

9 Celebration of the victory over the Ottomans at the Battle of Lepanto,
including Pius V, Philip II, Doge Alvise Mocenigo of Venice,
and Don Juan de Austria,
painting by
El Greco, ca. 1577

see also collections:

Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, El Greco

Battle of Lepanto
(Oct. 7, 1571), naval engagement between allied Christian forces and the Ottoman Turks during an Ottoman campaign to acquire the Venetian island of Cyprus. Seeking to drive Venice from the eastern Mediterranean, the forces of Sultan Selim II invaded Cyprus in 1570. The Venetians formed an alliance with Pope Pius V and Philip II of Spain (May 25, 1571). Philip sent his half brother, Don John of Austria, to command the allied forces. By the time the allies assembled at Messina, Sicily (Aug. 24, 1571), the Turks had captured Nicosia (Sept. 9, 1570), besieged Famagusta, and entered the Adriatic. Their fleet lay in the Gulf of Patras, near Lepanto (Návpaktos), Greece. The allied fleet of more than 200 ships sailed for Corfu on September 15 and on October 7 advanced in four squadrons against the Ottoman fleet, commanded by Ali Pașa, Muxammad Saulak (governor of Alexandria), and Uluj Ali (dey of Algiers). After about four hours of fighting, the allies were victorious, capturing 117 galleys and thousands of men.

Of little practical value (Venice surrendered Cyprus to the Turks in 1573), the battle had a great impact on European morale and was the subject of paintings by Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, El Greco.


The Victors of Lepanto (from left: Don Juan de Austria,
Marcantonio Colonna, Sebastiano Venier)


The Battle of Lepanto


The Battle of Lepanto by Paolo Veronese


Battle of Lepanto, by Tintoretto


Battle of Lepanto by Martin Rota


Philip II, King of Spain offers his son
or Allegory of the Battle of Lepanto, 1571, by

However, Spanish naval supremacy was broken in 1588 when a large invasion fleet, the Spanish Armada, was defeated off the British coast in 1588.

In 1598 Philip II was succeeded by his son, 8 Philip III, who fell under the influence of royal favorites.

8 Philip III on horseback, portrait by Velazquez, ca. 1634

see also:


He further stretched the state finances by underwriting the Catholic powers in the Thirty Years' War.

In the same period, Spanish art and 10 literature was in full bloom at his 11 courts.

10 The windmills of La Mancha, setting for the
famous 17th century novel "Don Quixote"
who also fought in the Battle of Lepanto

11 Palace Buen Retiro and gardens in Madrid, painting, 17th century


Cervantes "Don Quixote" (Illustrations by G. Dore)

12 Philip IV was forced to declare the state bankrupt in 1627 and accept the loss of territory in the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659 after heavy defeats by the French.

The repeated intermarrying of Austrian and Spanish Habsburgs began to show clear signs of degeneration.

Philip's son 13 Charles II, the last of the Spanish Habsburgs, was both impotent and mentally ill.

Even before his death, the dispute over his succession flared up at the royal court. When he died in November 1700, the War of the Spanish Succession began.

12 Philip IV, portrait by Velazquez

13 Charles II, portrait by Velazquez

see also:





Philip II

Portrait of king Felipe II of Spain and his second spouse
Queen Maria I of England
by Hans Eworth or Ewoutsz

king of Spain and Portugal

born , May 21, 1527, Valladolid, Spain
died Sept. 13, 1598, El Escorial, Spain

king of the Spaniards (1556–98) and king of the Portuguese (as Philip I, 1580–98), champion of the Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation. During his reign the Spanish Empire attained its greatest power, extent, and influence, though he failed to suppress the revolt of the Netherlands (beginning in 1566) and lost the “Invincible Armada” in the attempted invasion of England (1588).

Early life and marriages
Philip was the son of the Holy Roman emperor Charles V and Isabella of Portugal. From time to time, the emperor wrote Philip secret memoranda, impressing on him the high duties to which God had called him and warning him against trusting any of his advisers too much. Philip, a very dutiful son, took this advice to heart. From 1543 Charles conferred on his son the regency of Spain whenever he himself was abroad. From 1548 until 1551, Philip traveled in Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands, but his great reserve and his inability to speak fluently any language except Castilian made him unpopular with the German and Flemish nobility.

Philip contracted four marriages. The first was with his cousin Maria of Portugal in 1543. She died in 1545, giving birth to the ill-fated Don Carlos. In 1554 Philip married Mary I of England and became joint sovereign of England until Mary’s death, without issue, in 1558. Philip’s third marriage, with Elizabeth of Valois, daughter of Henry II of France, in 1559, was the result of the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis (1559), which, for a generation, ended the open wars between Spain and France. Elizabeth bore Philip two daughters, Isabella Clara Eugenia (1566–1633) and Catherine Micaela (1567–97). Elizabeth died in 1568, and in 1570 Philip married Anna of Austria, daughter of his first cousin the emperor Maximilian II. She died in 1580, her only surviving son being the later Philip III.

King of Spain
Philip had received the Duchy of Milan from Charles V in 1540 and the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily in 1554 on the occasion of his marriage to Mary of England. On October 25, 1555, Charles resigned the Netherlands in Philip’s favour and, on January 16, 1556, the kingdoms of Spain and the Spanish overseas empire. Shortly afterward Philip also received the Franche-Comté. The Habsburg dominions in Germany and the imperial title went to his uncle Ferdinand I. At this time Philip was in the Netherlands. After the victory over the French at St. Quentin (1557), the sight of the battlefield gave him a permanent distaste for war, though he did not shrink from it when he judged it necessary.

After his return to Spain from the Netherlands in 1559, Philip never again left the Iberian Peninsula. From Madrid he ruled his empire through his personal control of official appointments and all forms of patronage. Philip’s subjects outside Castile, thus, never saw him, and they gradually turned not only against his ministers but also against him. This happened particularly in the Netherlands, in Granada, and in Aragon.

Method of government
By sheer hard work Philip tried to overcome the defects of this system. His methods have become famous. All work was done on paper, on the basis of consultas (that is, memoranda, reports, and advice presented him by his ministers). In Madrid, or in the gloomy magnificence of his monastic palace of El Escorial, which he built (1563–84) on the slopes of the Sierra de Guadarrama, the king worked alone in his small office, giving his decisions or, as often, deferring them. Nothing is known of his order of work, but all his contemporaries agreed that his methods dangerously, and sometimes fatally, slowed down a system of government already notorious for its dilatoriness. Philip was painstaking and conscientious in his cravings for ever more information, hiding an inability to distinguish between the important and the trivial and a temperamental unwillingness to make decisions.

This was coupled with an almost pathological suspicion of even his most able and faithful servants. Margaret of Parma; the Duke of Alba; Don John of Austria; Antonio Pérez; and Alessandro Farnese—to name only the most distinguished—suffered disgrace. “His smile and his dagger were very close,” wrote his official court historian, Cabrera de Córdoba. It was no exaggeration, for, in the case of Juan de Escobedo, the secretary of Don John of Austria, Philip even consented to murder. As a result, Philip’s court became notorious for the bitterness of its faction fights. The atmosphere of the Spanish court did much to poison the whole Spanish system of government, and this played no small part in causing the rebellions of the Netherlanders (1568–1609), of the Moriscos of Granada (1568–70), and of the Aragonese (1591–92).

Yet the “black legend” that, in Protestant countries, represented Philip II as a monster of bigotry, ambition, lust, and cruelty is certainly false. Philip’s spare and elegant appearance is known from the famous portraits by Titian and by Anthonis Mor (Sir Anthony More). He was a lover of books and pictures, and Spain’s literary Golden Age began in his reign. An affectionate father to his daughters, he lived an austere and dedicated life. “You may assure His Holiness,” Philip wrote to his ambassador in Rome, in 1566, “that rather than suffer the least damage to religion and the service of God, I would lose all my states and an hundred lives, if I had them; for I do not propose nor desire to be the ruler of heretics.” This remark may be regarded as the motto of his reign. To accomplish the task set him by God of preserving his subjects in the true Catholic religion, Philip felt in duty bound to use his royal powers, if need be, to the point of the most ruthless political tyranny, as he did in the Netherlands. Even the popes found it sometimes difficult to distinguish between Philip’s views as to what was the service of God and what the service of the Spanish monarchy.

Foreign policy
For the first 20 years of his reign, Philip sought to preserve peace with his neighbours in western Europe. He was fighting a major naval war with the Ottoman Empire in the Mediterranean and, from 1568, he was faced with rebellion and war in the Netherlands. From the late 1570s, his policy gradually changed. The death (August 1578) without heirs of his nephew, King Sebastian of Portugal, opened up the prospect of Philip’s succession to Portugal. He had to conquer (1580) by force what he regarded as his just, hereditary rights, but the rest of Europe was alarmed at this growth in Spanish power.

Both England and France gave increasing support to the rebellious provinces of the Netherlands. Gradually, in the 1580s, Philip became convinced that the Catholic religion in western Europe, and his own authority in the Netherlands, could be saved only by open intervention against England and France. To this end he fitted out the Armada that, with the help of the Spanish Army in the Netherlands, was intended to conquer England (1588). He sent money and troops to support the League, the ultra-Catholic party in France, against Henry of Navarre and the Huguenots. He even claimed the throne of France for his daughter, Isabella Clara Eugenia, after the murder of Henry III in 1589. Again, even his Catholic allies found it difficult to distinguish between Philip’s championship of the Catholic church and the interests of Spain.

All these plans failed. Henry of Navarre became a Catholic (1593) and Philip had to accept (Peace of Vervins, 1598) his succession as Henry IV of France. England and the northern Netherlands remained Protestant and unconquered. Yet Philip’s reign as a whole was not a failure. He had defeated the great Ottoman offensive in the Mediterranean at the Battle of Lepanto (1571). In the Iberian Peninsula he had completed the work of unification begun by the “Catholic Monarchs,” Ferdinand and Isabella. Most important of all, in his own eyes, he had won great victories for the Catholic church. If England, Scotland, and the northern Netherlands were lost, the southern Netherlands (modern Belgium) had been preserved. In Spain and Italy he had prevented the spread of heresy, and his intervention in France was one of the factors that forced Henry IV to become a Catholic.

When Philip II died of cancer at El Escorial in 1598, Spain was still at the height of its power; it took almost 50 years before it was clear that the Counter-Reformation would make no further major conquests.

Helmut Georg Koenigsberger

Encyclopaedia Britannica




Philip III

King Philip III of Spain, Juan Pantoja de la Cruz

king of Spain and Portugal

born April 14, 1578, Madrid
died March 31, 1621, Madrid

king of Spain and of Portugal (as Philip II) whose reign (1598–1621) was characterized by a successful peaceful foreign policy in western Europe and internally by the expulsion of the Moriscos (Christians of Moorish ancestry) and government by the King’s favourites.

Philip was the son of Philip II of Spain by his fourth consort, his Habsburg cousin Anna of Austria. Though pious, benevolent, and highly virtuous in private conduct, Philip, after he became king (Sept. 13, 1598), showed himself to be indolent and indifferent to his responsibilities. His father revealed his disappointment when he remarked that his son was unfit to govern the kingdoms God had given him and would instead be governed by them. In April 1599 the new king married his Habsburg cousin the Austrian archduchess Margaret.

From the beginning, Philip placed affairs entirely in the hands of a favourite, Francisco Gómez de Sandoval y Rojas, marqués de Denia, later the duke of Lerma—the first in a line of royal favourites who governed 17th-century Spain. Philip’s government continued a policy of hostility to the Turks, and in Italy it faced the rivalry of the Republic of Venice and the Duchy of Savoy. In the rest of western Europe, however, a Spanish policy of conciliation ruled. Peace in the West enabled the government to deal with the internal problem of the Moriscos; and on April 9, 1609, the decision was made for their expulsion, which caused serious economic and demographic difficulties in certain areas. The peace was brought to an end by the outbreak (1618) of the Thirty Years’ War, in which Philip gave his unconditional support to the Holy Roman emperor Ferdinand II and the Catholic German princes.

Remote from his subjects, Philip spent huge sums on court entertainments and neglected Spain’s growing economic problems, which were to reach crisis proportions in the following reign. Having resided in Valladolid in the first years of his reign, he eventually fixed his court in Madrid. After a visit to Portugal (1619), he suffered the first attack of an illness that two years later brought about his death.

Encyclopaedia Britannica




Philip IV

 Philip IV, portrait by Velazquez

king of Spain and Portugal

born April 8, 1605, Valladolid, Spain
died Sept. 17, 1665, Madrid

king of Spain (1621–65) and of Portugal (1621–40), during the decline of Spain as a great world power.

He succeeded his father, Philip III of Spain, in 1621, and, for the first 22 years of his reign, Philip’s valido, or chief minister, was the Conde-Duque de Olivares, who took the spread of the Thirty Years’ War as an opportunity not only for resuming hostilities against the Dutch at the end of the Twelve Years’ Truce of 1609 (1621) but also for an ambitious attempt to restore Spanish hegemony in Europe, in close alliance with the imperial branch of the Habsburg dynasty. The Spanish armies won some conspicuous victories—for instance, the capture of Breda from the Dutch (1626) and the defeat of the Swedes and Weimarians at Nördlingen (1634)—but France declared open war in 1635, and Spain’s early successes were offset, from 1640, by the separatist rebellions of Catalonia and of Portugal (Portugal becoming independent in 1640 under John IV of the House of Bragança).

Philip dismissed Olivares in 1643 and replaced him with Don Luis Méndez de Haro, who remained in office until his death in 1661. Thereafter the King had no valido, but frequently relied on the advice of a nun and mystic, María de Ágreda, who corresponded with him on both spiritual matters and affairs of state. By the end of his reign Spain, weakened by military reverses and economic and social distress, had become a second-class power.

Philip’s first wife was Elizabeth (Spanish, Isabel), daughter of Henry IV of France; after her death in 1644, he married Maria Anna (Mariana), daughter of the Holy Roman emperor Ferdinand III. A poet and patron of the arts, Philip was the friend and patron of the painter Velázquez, many of whose works portray Philip and members of his court.

Encyclopaedia Britannica




Charles II

Charles II by Juan Carreno de Miranda

king of Spain
byname Charles The Mad, Spanish Carlos El Hechizado

born Nov. 6, 1661, Madrid
died Nov. 1, 1700, Madrid

king of Spain from 1665 to 1700 and the last monarch of the Spanish Habsburg dynasty.

Charles’s reign opened with a 10-year regency under the queen mother, during which the government was preoccupied with combatting the ambitions of the French king Louis XIV in the Low Countries and with intrigues at court involving the Queen, her Jesuit confessor Johann Eberhard Nithard, her subsequent favourite Fernando de Valenzuela, and the King’s bastard brother Juan José (1629–79) de Austria. Of the two phases in the King’s personal government, the first, concerned with resistance to the French imperialism of Louis XIV, ended with the peace of Rijswijk in 1697; the second, the last three years of the reign, was dominated by the succession problem, for by then it was clear that Charles would father no children.

At the peak of the succession problem, when the Austrian and French parties at the Spanish court were prepared to use any means to gain the support of the wretched king, Charles II obstinately defended the majesty of the crown and was determined to preserve its territorial integrity. In this latter aim he failed, for his death led to the War of the Spanish Succession and the dismembering of Spain’s European possessions.

Encyclopaedia Britannica



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