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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

And through the king's confessor


Success of the French party.]

The fight, after all, was a political one, and not a mere determination of legal right, and in this respect Louis XIV and his candidate, Philip, had the advantage, through skilful diplomacy. The French party in Madrid was headed by Cardinal Portocarrero, a man of great influence, assisted by Harcourt, the French ambassador. The imperial ambassador, Harrach, and Stanhope, the representative of England, worked together; the union of France and Spain under Bourbon rulers, who would probably be French-controlled, represented a serious upsetting of the balance of power, wherefore England desired the succession of the Archduke Charles, who at that time was not a probable candidate for the imperial crown. For several years Madrid was the scene of one of the most fascinating diplomatic battles in European history. The feeble-minded king did not know what to do, and asked advice on all sides, but could not make up his mind about the succession. The Austrian party had his ear, however, through his Austrian wife, and through the king's confessor, who was one of their group, but by a clever strike of Portocarrero's the king was persuaded that his wife was plotting to kill him, and was induced to change confessors, this time accepting a member of the French party. To divide his opponents Louis XIV proposed the dismemberment of Spain and her possessions among the leading claimants, assigning Spain, Flanders, and the colonies to

a third candidate, the Prince of Bavaria. The French king did not intend that any such division should take place, and in any event the Bavarian prince soon died, but through measures of this type Louis XIV eventually contrived to supplant in office and in influence nearly all who opposed the Bourbon succession. Meanwhile, the unfortunate king was stirred up and worried, although possibly without evil design, so that his health was more and more broken and his mentality disordered to the point of idiocy, hastening his death. Strange medicines and exorcisms were used in order to cast out the Devil with which he was told he was possessed, exciting the king to the point of frenzy. In 1700 Louis XIV abandoned his course of dissimulation to such an extent that it became clear that he would endeavor to procure all the Spanish dominions for Philip. Henceforth it was a struggle between the two principal claimants for exclusive rule. The wretched Spanish monarch was at length obliged to go to bed by what was clearly his last illness. Even then he was not left in peace, and the plotting continued almost to the very end. On October 3, Philip was named by the dying king as sole heir to all his dominions. On November 1, Charles II died, and with him passed the rule of the House of Austria.



[Sidenote: Principal events in the social history of the era.]

As compared with the two preceding eras there was little in this period strikingly new in social history. In the main, society tended to become more thoroughly modern, but along lines whose origins dated farther back. The most marked novelty in Spain was the conversion of the Mud?jares of Aragon, Catalonia, and Valencia, followed less than a century later by the expulsion of the Moriscos from every part of Spain. The most remarkable phase of social history of the time, however, was the subjection, conversion, and to a certain extent the civilization of millions of Indians in the Americas. The work was thorough enough to mark those lands permanently with the impress of Spain.

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