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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Sidenote Domestic troubles and death of Philip


Domestic troubles and death of Philip.]

The decisive blow had been struck, and Spain was the loser. The English war went on into the next reign, and there were several spectacular military events, not all of them unfavorable to Spanish arms, but they affected the general situation only in that they continued the strain on the royal exchequer. In the final analysis Philip had failed in this as in so many other enterprises. This fact was clear, even at the time, although the eventualities of later years were to make the outcome appear the more decisive. Philip's evil star did not confine its effects to his international policies. His eldest son, Charles, proved to be of feeble body and unbalanced mind. Getting into difficulties with his father, he was placed in prison by the latter's orders, and was never seen again, dying in 1568. Charges have been made that Philip caused his death, but he was probably blameless, although he did plan to disinherit him. Philip had no other son until 1571, when his eventual successor was born, by his fourth wife. Certain other domestic troubles, not divorced from scandal (although the evidence is in no case conclusive), may be passed over, except to mention the crowning grief of all. It early became clear that his son and heir, the later Philip III, was a weak character. "God, who has given me so many kingdoms," Philip is reported to have said, "has denied me a son capable of ruling them." In 1598 Philip died. His

last days were passed in extreme physical suffering, which he endured with admirable resignation. Philip, like the Emperor Charles, his father, had been indeed a great king, but he was a victim, as Charles had been, of a mistaken policy. Nevertheless, they had ruled Spain in her century of greatness, when Spain was not only the leading power in Europe, but was planting her institutions, for all time, in the vast domains of the Americas.



[Sidenote: Spanish defeats of the sixteenth century.]

The unfortunate policies of Charles I and Philip II were continued during the seventeenth century in the reigns of Philip III, Philip IV, and Charles II, but Spain was no longer able to hold her front rank position in European affairs, especially after the buffets of fortune which fell to her lot in the reign of Philip IV. Not only that, but a decline also set in which affected Spanish civilization in all its phases. The impetus of Spain's greatness in the sixteenth century carried her along to yet loftier heights in some manifestations of her inner life, notably in art and literature, but even in these characteristics the decline was rapid and almost complete by the end of the reign of Charles II. Italy, France, and the Low Countries continued to absorb Spanish effort, but now it was Spain's turn to acknowledge defeat, while France, the great power of the century, took toll for the losses she had suffered at the hands of Charles I and Philip II. The unsuccessful Catalan revolt and the victorious war of the Portuguese for independence assisted to drain Spain of her resources, financial and otherwise, while the last-named event destroyed peninsula unity, carrying with it such of the Portuguese colonies as had not already been lost. Spain yielded the aggressive to her strongest opponent, and endeavored herself to maintain the defence. Nevertheless, great achievements were still the rule in the colonies, even if of a less showy type than formerly. Spain was still the conqueror and civilizer. On the other hand, the efforts of other nations to found colonies in lands claimed by Spain began to be successful, and this movement gathered force throughout the century, together with the direct annexation of some lands which were already Spanish.

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