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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

There were revolts in Sicily in 1646 1647


[Sidenote:

Other revolts and plottings.]

Still other difficulties arose in Italy and in Spain to harass the reign of Philip IV. There were revolts in Sicily in 1646-1647, and in Naples in 1647-1648, both of which were put down. An Aragonese plot was discovered, and there was no uprising. A similar plot in Andalusia was headed by the Duke of Medina Sidonia, captain general of the province and brother of the new queen of Portugal. This too was uncovered in time to prevent an outbreak. In Vizcaya there was a serious revolt, growing out of an alleged tampering with local privileges, but it was eventually put down. In fine, the reign had been one of disaster. Olivares had been the chief instrument to bring it about, but, after all, he only represented the prevailing opinion and traditional policies. The moment of reckoning had come.

[Sidenote: Charles "the Bewitched."]

[Sidenote: French aggressions.]

The reign of Charles II (1665-1700) was a period of waiting for what seemed likely to be the end, unless fate should intervene to give a new turn to affairs. The king himself was doubly in need of a regent, for he was only four years old when he succeeded to the throne and was also weak and sick in mind and body. He was subject to epileptic fits, on which account he was termed Charles "the Bewitched" (_el Hechizado_), and many people believed that he was indeed

possessed of a Devil. This disgusting, but pitiful, creature was expected to die at any moment, but he lived to rule, though little more than in name, for thirty-five years. The whole reign was one of plotting for the succession, since it early became clear that Charles II could have no heir. There was a pro-French party, a pro-Austrian party, and a very strong group which favored a Spaniard, Juan of Austria, illegitimate son of a Spanish king, as his predecessor of the same name had been. Juan of Austria became virtual ruler in 1677, but died in 1679, thus eliminating the only prominent claimant in Spain. France, at the height of her power under Louis XIV, was unwilling to wait for the death of Charles II before profiting by Spanish weakness, and therefore engaged in several wars of aggression, directed primarily against Spain's possessions in the Low Countries and against the Protestant Netherlands. In many of these wars other powers fought on the side of Spain and the Dutch, notably the Holy Roman Emperor, many princes of Germany, and Sweden, while England and the pope joined the allies against the French military lord in the last war of the period. Four times Spain was forced into conflict, in 1667-1668, 1672-1678, 1681-1684, and 1689-1697. Province after province in northern Europe was wrested away, until, after the last war, when Louis XIV had achieved his greatest success, little would have remained, but for an unusual spirit of generosity on the part of the French king. Instead of taking further lands from Spain, he restored some which he had won in this and previous wars. The reason was that he now hoped to procure the entire dominions of Spain for his own family.

[Sidenote: Plottings of the Austrian and French parties for the succession.]

The leader of the party favoring the Hapsburg, or Austrian, succession in Spain was the queen-mother, Mar?a Ana, herself of the House of Austria. After many vicissitudes she at length seemed to have achieved a victory, when she brought about the marriage of Charles II to an Austrian princess in 1689, the same year in which the king's former wife, a French princess, had died. The situation was all the more favorable in that Louis XIV declared war against Spain in that year for the fourth time in the reign. The very necessities of the war, added to the now chronic bad administration and the general state of misery in Spain, operated, however, to arouse discontent and to provoke opposition to the party in power. Thus the French succession was more popular, even during the war, than that of the allied House of Austria. After the war was over, the French propaganda was established on a solid basis, for it was evident, now, that Charles II could not long survive. Louis XIV put forward his grandson, Philip of Anjou, as a candidate, and the Holy Roman Emperor urged the claims of his son, the Archduke Charles. Not only did Philip have the weaker hereditary claim, but he also had the renunciation of his grandmother, Mar?a Teresa, wife of Louis XIV, against him. The last-named objection was easily overcome, since Spain had never paid the promised dowry of Mar?a Teresa, wherefore Louis XIV held that the renunciation was of no effect.


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