Online Encyclopedia

PHILIP IV

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V21, Page 386 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PHILIP IV. (1605-1665), king of Spain, eldest son of Philip III. and his wife Margaret, sister of the emperor Ferdinand II., was born at Valladolid on the 8th of April 1605. His reign, after a few passing years of barren successes, was a long story of political and military decay and disaster. The king has been held responsible for the fall of Spain, which was, however, due in the main to internal causes beyond the control of the most despotic ruler, however capable he had been. Philip certainly possessed more energy, both mental and physical, than his father. There is still in existence a translation of Guicciardini which he wrote with his own hand in order to qualify himself for government by acquiring a knowledge of political history. He was a fine horseman and keen hunter. His artistic taste was shown by his patronage of Velasquez, and his love of letters by his favour to Lope de Vega, Calderon, 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. Coming to the throne at the age of sixteen, he did the wisest thing he could by allowing 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. But Philip IV. had not the strength of mind to free himself from the influence of Olivares when he had grown to manhood. The amusements which the favourite had encouraged became the business of the
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