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In August 1588 the ambitious Spanish invasion of England by an enormous armada of 130 ships was devastated by the English navy, and in September half the Spanish vessels were sunk during a storm off Santander, Ireland. The calamity marked a turning point in Spanish-English relations and for the Spanish Empire. That year Felipe II began consulting the Council of Flanders. In 1589 Francis Drake commanded an English force that tried to install Dom Antonio in Portugal, but the Spaniards and disease defeated them. In a century the incomes of the thirteen richest families nearly doubled while prices had quadrupled. Grandees had only a fifth of their incomes to spend because the rest was used to service their debts. Many aristocrats left their thousands of vassals and hundreds of towns and villages to move to the court at Madrid.
Felipe II appointed the Marquis of Almenara viceroy in 1588, but the Justicia of Aragon did not accept him until May 1590. Most of the Justicia members were chosen by the Cortes of Aragon, and they protected their rights (fueros). Antonio Perez had escaped from Madrid in April and went to Aragon where he was kept in protective custody by the Justicia. When Felipe tried to transfer Perez from the Justicia’s jail to the Inquisition’s dungeons on May 24, 1591, the Aragonese led by Diego de Heredia rioted and rescued Perez while mortally wounding Viceroy Almenara. An attempt to move Perez again on September 14 provoked another struggle, and Heredia’s men freed Perez again. Felipe sent a Spanish army of 12,000 men led by Alonso de Vargas to invade Zaragoza in October. Perez fled to France on November 11, but by an order that arrived on December 18 Juan de Lanuza and other members of the Justicia were captured and beheaded.
In 1590 some 7,000 students attended universities, and 20,000 were in some form of higher education. Studying at a university increased one’s status, but professional positions depended on influence, favor, and recommendation. Pope Sixtus V died on August 27, 1590, and Felipe II managed to get three popes elected; but Urban VII died on September 27; Gregory XIV passed on October 16; and Innocent IX left this world on December 30, 1591. Then the Italian Cardinals refused to obey Felipe and elected the nonpolitical Clement VIII who served until 1605. According to the census of 1591 New Castile had 100 monasteries and 90 convents. Spain had 32 colleges and more than 4,000 grammar schools. Salamanca had 18 colleges including four Colegios Mayores, and the one at Cuenca in a half century educated eight viceroys, six cardinals, and twenty archbishops.
Felipe II’s personal secretary Gonzalo Perez was interrogated, and under torture on February 23, 1590 he confessed to arranging the murder of Juan de Escobedo. Perez escaped from prison on April 19 and was accused of heresy in 1591 by the Inquisition in Zaragoza. His supporters rioted, and seventeen nobles formed a league to defend their privileges. Felipe sent an army from Castile to Aragon to pacify Zaragoza, and the leading noble Ribagorza was captured and died in prison. Perez escaped to France and wrote his Relaciones to describe how King Felipe II worked as a petty tyrant.
In early 1590 the Cortes of Castile had granted Felipe a special subsidy of 8,000,000 ducats over six years, increasing his annual revenues in 1592-93 to nearly 10,000,000 ducats. The imports to the Treasury reached their peak from 1590 to 1595. However, his annual expenditures were averaging about 12,000,000 ducats, and the difference was raised by loans with interest at 14% or higher. Taxes had increased so that the average peasant farmer in Castile was paying half their income in taxes, tithes, and seigneurial duties. Nearly 150,000 agents were involved in collecting taxes in Spain and America, and the crown received little more than a fifth of the total revenues. In October 1591 broadsheets against taxes were put up in Avila. The King sent a judge who had Don Diego de Braçamonte arrested in February 1592, and he was condemned and executed. Others were fined and sentenced to the galleys. Riots also broke out in 1591 in Madrid, Toledo, and Seville. After 1592 the Cortes of Castile refused to appropriate any more money for wars. Memorials complained that the Spanish war in the Netherlands had cost them 115 million ducats. Because of wars and disease the population of Cuenca fell by 40% between 1591 and 1654.
During the armada’s expedition in 1588 the ambassador Mendoza backed Guise and the Catholic League as they seized Paris and detained Henri III. The Duke of Mayenne, Mendoza, and the League persuaded Pope Sixtus V to excommunicate Henri III for murdering the Duke of Guise and Cardinal Louis II of Guise on December 24. Farnese sent troops to help Mayenne’s army that was defeated by Henri of Navarre at Ivry on March 14, 1590, though Farnese managed to relieve the siege of Paris. In July 1591 Felipe II ordered Farnese to stop fighting in the Netherlands and to help Mayenne and the League in France. He crossed the French frontier with them in December, but his forces became so depleted that he returned to the Netherlands in June 1592. In October he was ordered to lead another expedition to France, but Farnese died on the way at Arras on December 3. Felipe replaced him with Luxembourg’s 75-year-old governor, Count Peter Ernst Mansfeld, who arrived in Brussels in early 1594. He quarreled with the Count of Fuentes who became captain-general of the army in Flanders in 1595.
The Huguenots tried to provoke a revolt in Aragon in February 1592, but this united the Aragonese who defeated them. Heredia was captured and executed. Felipe convoked the Cortes of Aragon at Tarragona on June 15 to revise their constitution, and on August 8 the unanimity required in the Justicia was changed to a majority. Felipe proclaimed a general pardon, and the grateful Cortes granted him 600,000 ducats over the next three years. He withdrew the Castilian army from Aragon in December 1593, but Cardinal Quiroga had the Inquisition protected by the royal garrison at Aljaferia Palace.
Felipe II had traveled 549 miles to suppress the riots in Aragon in 1592, and he was weakened by gout (arthritis), malarial fever, and old age. The Night Committee (Junta de Noche) began to take more of the burden of executive decisions, and in September 1593 Felipe replaced it with the Government Committee, appointing his nephew Albrecht who returned from being Viceroy of Portugal. The Committee met three hours a day with Prince Felipe.
In 1556 Felipe II had confirmed the anti-Jewish statute in Lombardy passed in 1548, but he did not enforce it until December 1590. He ordered expulsions in a letter to Milan in October 1596, and the last 72 Jewish families were forced to leave in 1597.
Felipe sent a third expedition from Flanders in March 1593. Henri of Navarre converted to the Catholic faith on July 25 and was crowned Henri IV on February 27, 1594. He expelled the Spaniards from the garrison in Paris, and on January 17, 1595 he declared war on Spain. France was allied with England and the Dutch Republic. In five years Felipe had provided three million ducats in subsidies to the French Catholic leaders.
Cardinal Archduke Albrecht VII of Austria left Madrid to be captain-general of the army in Flanders in August. Duke Ranuccio of Parma sent a dozen galleons to aid the Spanish attack of Ireland in 1596, but half were lost in the storms that drove the rebuilt armada away. On June 20 an Anglo-Dutch expedition led by Admiral Howard and the Earl of Essex sacked Cadiz. On October 23 an armada of 98 ships with 16,000 men sailed from Corunna, but a storm off Finisterre destroyed 20 ships and 3,000 men. Thousands more died of disease as they took refuge in northern Spain. That year the bubonic plague came to Santander and spread west in the northern provinces to the Atlantic coast.
Treasure coming to Seville from America increased from 64 million in the 1580s to 83 million in the 1590s. Yet Felipe declared bankruptcy for the third time in November 1596 and suspended payments. Spanish forces captured Calais in April and managed to take Amiens on March 11, 1597 but lost it on September 25. The Spanish armada failed against England again in 1597. Albrecht was for peace and persuaded Felipe to sign a treaty with the French at Vervins on May 2, 1598, relinquishing Calais and places in Picardy and Brittany. Four days later Felipe ceded the Low Countries to Archduke Albrecht and his daughter Isabel Clara Eugenia whom Albrecht was to wed. In the marriage contract they promised to bring disobedient provinces back to the Catholic faith. Yet on August 22 the States General of the southern Netherlands accepted the couple as their sovereigns. Between 1582 and 1600 about 1,500 Spanish soldiers died each year in Flanders.
The price of grain in Castile and Andalucia went up more than fifty percent from 1595 to 1599. In September 1597 Prince Felipe began signing most official papers. Cervantes complained that Felipe II forbade portraying any monarch on the stage, and in 1598 the King banned plays in Madrid. After a long decline Felipe II became very ill in June and died on September 13. He left a debt of 85,000,000 ducats compared to the debt of 25,500,000 ducats his father Charles V had passed on to him. He also lost the seven northern provinces of the Netherlands to the Protestants. Between 1572 and 1607 Spanish troops mutinied 46 times, usually because of overdue pay.
In 1598 the bubonic epidemic entered central Spain and the Old and New Castile, reaching Andalucia in 1599 and taking 8,000 victims in Seville. At least 500,000 people died by 1602. By 1614 another 275,000 Moriscos (Muslims converted to Christianity) had been expelled, reducing the entire population of Spain by about ten percent. The price of gain in Castile and Andalucia more than doubled in four years while wages increased even more by 1603.
Felipe III became King of Spain at the age of twenty, and within two months he imposed a strong trade embargo against the Dutch, reversing his father’s position since 1590. He liked to eat and hunt while living in the country and had little interest in working as hard as his father. In 1598 he revived the Council of State and filled it with nobles. Felipe married his 14-year-old cousin Margaret of Austria on April 18, 1599, and the extravagant celebration cost 950,000 ducats. She bore him eight children before dying during childbirth in 1611.
The treasury informed King Felipe III that his income in 1599 would be 9,731,405 ducats; but 4,634,293 ducats would be used to pay the interest on the debt. After subtracting the cost of his wedding and one million from unpaid cost from the previous year’s budget, the King had about 3.4 million ducats; but expenses in Flanders were expected to be 3.1 million for the year. Felipe’s solution was to issue new copper coins in place of Castile’s silver ones and keep the profit. In April 1600 the Council of State was reorganized and began meeting regularly. Felipe relied on their advice, but he was very slow at sending reports to them and in implementing their advice.
Felipe III delegated his authority to his favorite (valido), Francisco Gomez de Sandoval y Rojas, the Marquis of Denia, who had been Viceroy of Valencia and in 1599 became the Duke of Lerma. He dismissed Archbishop Garcia de Loaysa of Toledo and Inquisitor General Pedro de Portocarrero, giving their positions to his uncle Bernardo de Sandoval. Lerma acquired major offices for himself and gave minor ones to his family. He used his power to increase his personal wealth.
On January 22, 1599 Felipe III left Madrid with his sister Isabel, Lerma, major officials, and the nobles to visit Valencia and did not return until fall. During this time the Council of State met only four times, but Felipe met with his War Council 68 times. He visited Catalonia and made concessions to the aristocrats, and the Cortes gave him a subsidy of 1,100,000 ducats. On May 26 he appointed infantry captain Baltasar de Zuñiga ambassador in Brussels to the United Provinces of the Netherlands, and he would also serve as a diplomat in Paris 1603-08 and in Vienna 1608-17.
Another naval expedition led by Martin de Padilla aimed at liberating Ireland failed again in the summer of 1599 and cost four million ducats. In December a mutiny began in the army of Flanders because Albrecht had not paid their arrears. They seized Hamont, and the revolt spread to the garrisons in Crevecoeur and San Andrés fort. By January 1600 about 2,500 troops supported the mutiny. The States General in the Spanish Netherlands was dissolved in 1600, and a subsidy of 3,600,000 florins was collected annually from the provincial estates. Sicily, Naples, and Milan contributed 5,500,000 ducats a year.
Count Maurits (Maurice) of Nassau succeeded his father Willem of Orange as stadtholder of Holland and Zeeland in 1585 and added Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel in 1590. He besieged the Spaniards at the San Andrés fort by April 1600 while Johan van Oldenbarnevelt tried to raise money. Hollanders persuaded Maurits to launch an attack on Ostend with a thousand transports, 12,000 infantry, 1,000 cavalry, and 38 artillery pieces. They reached Ostend on June 26 and left Count Ernst with 3,000 men there as he moved on toward Nieuwpoort on July 1. The next day Archduke Albrecht met them with 8,000 infantry and 1,000 cavalry. The Dutch won a bloody victory as Albrecht lost nearly half his force and Maurits 2,000 men. News of more Spanish cavalry arriving caused Maurits to retreat to Dutch territory.
The crown’s share of the silver from America in 1600 surpassed four million ducats, and on January 1, 1601 the Cortes granted 18 million ducats from the servicio de millones. The Count of Fuentes governed Milan and arrived from Genoa with 4,000 Spanish veterans. Felipe III ordered him to prepare for war, and Fuentes began raising 12,000 troops in Germany, Naples, and Switzerland. Naval commander Diego de Brochero y Añaya assembled a fleet at Lisbon in May. Felipe ordered Federico Spinola to recruit 6,000 men from Italy at his own cost for an attack on southern England while another fleet was prepared to help the Catholics in Ireland fight the English. This armada would cost Felipe another 470,000 ducats by 1603. Felipe deployed 8,000 infantry to Flanders, 6,000 to Archduke Ferdinand in the east, 10,000 in the Mediterranean fleet, and 6,000 in the Atlantic fleet.
On June 10 Maurits besieged Rheinberg with 17,000 Dutch. On July 5 Albrecht countered by besieging the port of Ostend, the last Dutch citadel in Flanders, and by mid-July he had 14,000 troops. Rheinberg capitulated to Maurits in early August. The Spaniards attacked Ostend on January 7, 1602 and lost more than 7,000 men on one assault. After a long wait Albrecht received letters of credit from Castile on January 19 for 500,000 ducats and began recruiting again.
In Portugal in 1601 Lerma created the Junta da Fazenda with three Spaniards, but it was abolished in 1605. Lerma granted privileges to New Christians in exchange for 1,700,000 cruzados. By 1602 he had an annual income of 200,000 ducats. In February 1601 Lerma persuaded Felipe to move the court and government of Castile to Valladolid, but they returned to Madrid in 1606. Then Madrid had a population of 50,000, but by 1617 it increased to 150,000. Juan de Mariana had published his great History of Spain in 1592, and Cardinal Bembo persuaded him to translate most of it into Latin which was published in 1601.
A storm dispersed the Spanish armada bound for Ireland, and only 1,700 men landed at Kinsale on October 2, 1601. An English army of 7,000 men led by Baron Mountjoy began besieging Kinsale on November 4. Irish rebels led by Hugh O’Neill of Tyrone attacked the English on January 3, 1602; but Spain’s forces led by Juan de Aguila did not sally forth to aid them, and the English destroyed O’Neill’s army, killing 1,200. A week later Aguila surrendered the town.
In April 1602 a Spanish fleet from the West Indies brought eleven million ducats with 3 million of it for King Felipe. Maurits with 20,000 infantry and 500 cavalry crossed the Waal River in June and went down the Maas to Maastricht. Albrecht sent Admiral Francisco de Mendoza of Aragon to stop them and used the 8,759 men Ambrogio Spinola brought from Italy to reinforce them. The army of Maurits encircled the town of Grave on July 19, and on August 10 Mendoza’s forces surrounded the siege lines. Restless and unpaid soldiers mutinied again in September and were joined by more than 3,000 men including 1,500 cavalry. On the 19th the garrison of 800 men at Grave surrendered. Both the Dutch and English armies suffered from disease during the siege in swampy trenches. When the money finally arrived, Mendoza gave the mutineers three days to return or be banished or killed.
The largest expenditure was for the military in the Low Countries which cost Spain more than 40 million ducats in the first twelve years. Expanding trade in the Indies in 1602-03 allowed the government to send money to the Low Countries for a time.
In 1603 Felipe doubled the face value of the copper (vellon) coin. On July 30 England’s new King James, France’s Henri IV, and the United Provinces of the Netherlands made a secret treaty at Hampton Court to form a triple alliance. On April 25, 1604 about 17,000 Dutch rebels led by Maurits seized the island of Cadzand, and in two weeks they took over most of the forts around Sluis in Zeeland and besieged it until the starved garrison surrendered in August. Archduke Albrecht took the initiative to send an ambassador to London. After negotiating with Spaniards, finally on August 20 King James swore to the treaty of London that ended the long Anglo-Spanish War in 1604. England gained free trade with Spanish possessions in Europe but not in the Indies while not agreeing to tolerate Catholics in England. Spain was promised that the English government would stop giving military and financial aid to the Dutch as England renounced its alliance with the Dutch and the French and would cease licensing corsair attacks. As many as eight Spanish warships could harbor in English ports. Spain was allowed to recruit English troops but got no help from King James who did not stop his subjects from serving in the Dutch army.
Hoping to defeat the Dutch rebellion, on September 13, 1604 Spain’s commander Ambrogio Spinola led German troops against Sand Hill, and a week later Ostend finally surrendered after a siege of more than three years. Castile’s constable Juan Fernandez de Velasco persuaded France’s Henri IV to revoke his 30% tariffs and the embargo that hampered trade in the southern Lowlands. Spinola returned to Spain, and on March 24, 1605 he left Valladolid with Felipe III’s promise of six million ducats for his army. Maurits began the campaign on May 15 by attacking Antwerp. Spinola kept the Dutch army pinned down in Flanders while his forces captured the forts at Oldenzaal and Lingen. On October 8 Maurits attacked Spinola’s army on the Ruhr River but was eventually defeated as Spinola took Wachtendonk on the 27th and Cracau on November 5 on the eastern flank. This campaign strained the financial resources of Spain and the Dutch, and both sides tried to raise money for the next year.
Ambrogio Spinola tried to separate the United Provinces of the Netherlands from Germany, but his offensive against Yssel was stopped by the Dutch in 1606. A down-turn in Indies revenues of 1604-05 led to lack of pay for soldiers and a major mutiny by the tercios (infantry regiments) in the Low Countries in December 1606 involved 4,052 veterans of the army in Flanders. In mid-October during three days 73 ships had brought to Seville more than six million ducats’ in silver and merchandise and 16 million in bullion by the end of the year. Yet the city lacked silver, and on December 14 the Council of State warned Felipe that the funds for the army in Flanders would have to be reduced by half.
By 1607 the Spanish government could no longer raise the 30,000 ducats per month that Ambrogio Spinola demanded. Payments on the debt were suspended on November 9 as Felipe withheld 12 million ducats he had pledged to pay. Pedro Franqueza and Rodrigo Calderon became rich from his patronage. Franqueza was tried for malversation of funds in 1607 and was forced to pay back 1,500,000 ducats. That year the rich Alonso Ramirez de Prado of the Council of Castile was also arrested for corrupt practices. During the reign of Felipe III the Cortes of Valencia only passed one subsidy of 400,000 ducats in 1604, but the Crown spent so much on bribes that no benefit was received. The royal family cost Castile 1,300,000 ducats a year. The Jesuit Juan de Mariana complained that the King spent public revenues as if it were his own money. In 1609 Mariana published a treatise in Germany criticizing Felipe’s monetary policy as hidden taxation that would drive out gold and silver and cause inflation. That year Felipe III approved the impeachment of his finance secretary for embezzling 1.5 million ducats, and a subordinate in his department had stolen nearly as much.
During the long negotiations between Spain and the States General of the Dutch Republic they agreed on a cease-fire that would begin on September 1, 1608 in the Atlantic and a year later in the Far East. On July 6 the Dutch and the English agreed to a defensive alliance. The transatlantic trade boomed in 1608, and on May 14 Felipe promised to pay one million ducats a year to his creditors for twelve years. Spain finally accepted a 12-year truce with the United Provinces at Antwerp on April 9, 1609. Both sides agreed to keep their territory except for captured villages surrounded by enemy towns. Europe was to have free trade with its normal tariffs and limits, but elsewhere trade to Felipe’s territory was by permission. The Dutch gained the same rights in Habsburg territory as the English had in the 1604 treaty. Spain reduced its Flanders army to 15,000 men and its spending from 9 million florins to 4 million. Spain still had military expenses in Germany, the Mediterranean, and overseas in the colonies, and by 1615 the military spending exceeded 9 million ducats.
Spain had 319,000 Moriscos with 135,000 in Valencia and 61,000 in Aragon. After visiting Valencia in 1599 Felipe III promoted the conversion of Moriscos. On April 4, 1609 the Council recommended expulsion, and five days later Felipe decided that all the Moriscos should be deported from Spain starting with Valencia. Preparations were made secretly, and on September 22 Valencia’s Viceroy Carazena published the expulsion decree. The property of the Moriscos went to their landlords as compensation except for what they could take with them. About 32,000 Moriscos were shipped to North Africa in the first twenty days of October. News of violence, robbery, and attacks by Arabs in North Africa reached Valencia, and rebellion began on October 20. The militia was sent in, and the rebels were defeated by the end of November. In three months 116,122 Moriscos were sent to North Africa. A decree on December 28 allowed some in Castile to migrate to France by way of Tunis while the rest of the 32,000 were deported in the first half of 1610.
From the confiscated property Lerma took 250,000 ducats while giving 100,000 to his son and 150,000 to his daughter. That year 41,952 Moriscos were expelled from Aragon and Catalonia while about 36,000 were forced to leave Andalucia. Expulsions continued, and by 1614 about 275,000 had been deported, leaving about 10,000 in Spain. Spain lost 4% of its population, but most of them were workers, and labor shortages increased wages in agriculture. Some nobles who lived in luxury and did not manage their estates well went bankrupt. Many abandoned their labor-intensive crops such as sugar and rice and cultivated the mulberry for silk and vines for wine.
In 1611 Spanish nobles were urged to leave the court and return to their estates because so many were considered parasites. Queen Margaret and the Church persuaded the King to arrest the favored Rodrigo Calderon who was tortured. Margaret also opposed Lerma, but she died on October 3. In Castile the alcabala (sales tax) raised 2,754,766 ducats a year by 1612. The servicio granted by the Cortes brought in 405,000 ducats annually, and the millones on basic food increased from 2 million ducats a year to 3 million early in his reign. Spain received from the Church annual revenues of 800,000 ducats from the cruzada, 420,000 from the subsidio, and 250,000 from ecclesiastical property in the excusado. Yet crown revenues decreased from their peak at the end of the 16th century by about 4% a year during his reign.
On October 23, 1612 Felipe III decreed that his councils were to carry out the orders of the Duke of Lerma. The Duke spent 427,877 ducats on his church endowments in Lerma and a total of 646,377 for the city. Banditry and organized crime increased in Catalonia under Viceroy Marquis of Almazan (1611-15). The Duke of Albuquerque became viceroy in March 1616 and began arresting and executing delinquents, but he was opposed by the Diputacio commission.
On November 24, 1615 Felipe’s daughter Anne of Austria was married by proxy in Burgos to France’s King Louis XIII with a dowry of 500,000 crowns when they both were 14 years old. On the same day Louis XIII’s 13-year-old sister Elisabeth, wed by proxy at Bordeaux the Spanish prince Felipe when he was 10 years old.
In 1617 Baltasar de Zuñiga and his allies joined the government. On September 12 a treaty made at Madrid ended the war between Venice and Archduke Ferdinand. That year Felipe III had the Cortes issue the devalued copper vellones again, and this went on until 1626 by which time the coins had lost half their value. Since the 14th century the King of Spain had the regium exequator authority to control papal communications. Clerical and lay jurists supporting the monarchy wrote regalist treatises; but Pope Paul V put several on the Index, and Felipe complained about that in 1617. The Church spent much of its large income on education and to help the poor, usually with soup kitchens. In Castile short-term loans were given to farmers for interest rates as high as 50%, and by 1618 about 100,000,000 ducats were invested in these.
Zuñiga and Lerma’s own son, Cristóbal de Sandoval, Duke of Uceda, worked to have the King’s favorite (valido) removed from power, and Lerma was expelled from the court on October 4, 1618 after having acquired 44 million ducats. However, Felipe let the Duke of Uceda administer the government, and the report was ignored. When the Archbishop of Toledo died in December, Felipe persuaded Pope Paul V to appoint his 9-year-old son, Fernando of Austria.
In the summer of 1618 Felipe had asked the Junta de Reformacion to prepare a report on Spain and remedies for its problems. On February 1, 1619 the Council’s consulta suggested reducing taxes and collecting them honestly, stopping crown grants and pensions, expelling nobles and clergy from the court, abolishing extravagant clothes and living with the King providing an example, removing impediments on the circulation of food, and curtailing the number of men and women joining religious orders and attending schools. These proposals were ignored for two years until a new regime was installed.
In 1619 Felipe III visited Portugal for five months, and the government in Lisbon had to pay the 200,000 cruzados that the royal tour cost. Contrary to law, Spaniards had been appointed to the Council of Portugal in Madrid, were made Portuguese bishops, and were granted Portuguese estates. Lerma had received royal domains at Beja and Serpa. The Cortes was summoned during his visit to recognize Felipe’s son as their next king, but that was the only time. Taxes were collected and taken away to be spent in Spain. Portuguese resented this exploitation as if they had been occupied by an enemy. They mourned the death of France’s Henri IV in 1610 because they had hoped he would liberate Portugal from Habsburg imperialism.
When the Thirty Years’ War broke out in Bohemia in 1618 with a Protestant revolt, Spain sent an army of 8,000 men from Flanders to make Bohemia a Catholic country. In December 1619 the Council of State advised Felipe III to support the Habsburg Empire in Germany, and they sent an army of 35,000 men from Flanders to the Palatinate. A revolt in the Valtelline valley was used as an excuse by Spain’s Governor of Milan, the Duke of Feria, to install a garrison there in July 1620, opening the Spanish road from Milan to imperial Austria. The next month General Ambrogio Spinola brought an army of 30,000 soldiers to invade the Palatinate Electorate and the Rhine, enabling Spaniards to travel from Milan to Flanders. They besieged and conquered Heidelberg in the summer of 1622 and took Mannheim on November 2.
After the end of the 12-year Truce with the Netherlands in April 1621 Spanish embargoes once more deterred Dutch trade in the Baltic and Mediterranean seas, and Spain increased the army of Flanders to more than 60,000 men.
Felipe III became ill and died on March 31, 1621. During his reign he created 3 dukes, 30 new marquises and 33 counts. The number of clergy and religious students had doubled.
King Felipe IV (r. 1621-65) was 16 years old when he became King of Spain. For more than two decades his primary advisor would be Gaspar de Guzman, Count of Olivares, who was educated at the University of Salamanca. He was influenced by the Stoic philosophy in De Constantia by Justus Lipsius and by the Italian diplomat Giovanni Botero who wrote The Reason of State (Della ragion di Stato). Olivares had been serving Prince Felipe since 1614, and he arranged for his uncle Baltasar de Zuñiga to be recalled to Madrid from the imperial court in Vienna. For two years Zuñiga was Felipe III’s principal advisor.
Soon after Felipe III’s death Zuñiga began giving audiences, and several councilors were removed from their positions. On April 7, 1621 the Duke of Osuna, who had been viceroy of Sicily 1611-16 and of Naples 1616-20, was arrested and charged with corruption and misleading Felipe III. Osuna’s secretary, Francisco de Quevedo, joined the Olivares party. The next day Felipe IV ordered the Duke of Lerma to pay back 72,000 ducats into the royal treasury and to be investigated. That summer Lerma’s son, the Duke of Uceda, was sent into exile, had property confiscated, and ended up dying of illness in prison in 1624, a year before his father died. Rodrigo Calderon, who had refused to confess under torture ten years earlier, was executed publicly on October 21. In the first weeks of Felipe IV’s reign the Council had more than 150 people arrested for having subversive literature in attempts to find out who was writing it.
During the 12-year Truce that ended in April 1621 the Dutch had extended their commerce in Asia and Brazil at the expense of the Portuguese empire. The revenue brought from the American colonies had fallen below one million ducats a year because of colonists becoming more self-sufficient, increased expenses of viceregal government, and the declining price of silver. The Council of Portugal demanded that their overseas colonies be regained from the Dutch, and the Council of Finance noted that the cost of the Flanders army in peacetime was nearly as much as in wartime. In his first month Felipe IV resumed Spain’s war in the Netherlands, and on June 24 he decreed the minting of 4 million ducats. The Spanish fleet had deteriorated to only seven ships. In November they ordered the Atlantic fleet to expand to 46 ships, and its annual budget was doubled to one million ducats a year. Money for Flanders was increased from 1,500,000 to 3,500,000 ducats a year. Spain’s annual expenditures were now 8,000,000 ducats a year with an annual deficit of 400,000. In December much Spanish treasure was lost when the Tierra Firme fleet was shipwrecked.
On January 16, 1622 a royal decree required new officeholders to swear under oath to an inventory of their possessions and at every promotion. The Council for the Reformation of Manners was set up to prevent politicians from enriching themselves. Olivares joined the Council, and his uncle Zuñiga died on October 7. Olivares wanted to spread the imperial burden of taxation beyond Castile, and that month he revived plans for a national banking system. Debts could be reduced by limiting the interest rate to 5%. His proposal to eliminate the millones tax on consumption that was so hard on the poor went nowhere in the Cortes. The bank was tried until 1626.
On February 10, 1623 the arbitristas passed a reform law in 23 chapters that forced towns to reduce the number of office-holders by two-thirds, but the Cortes vetoed that. No one was allowed to remain at court for more than a month in each year. Sumptuary laws were passed to restrict luxuries, but they were hard to enforce. The extravagant ruff collar was replaced by more economical cardboard, changing the fashion in Europe. On July 27, 1623 Felipe appointed Olivares Canciller Mayor y Registrador de las Indias. New taxes included 12% on public offices, a fifth on all Crown grants, 5% on luxury textiles and on government bonds (juros) and mortgages (censos). The artist Diego de Velazquez (1599-1660) was the grandson of Portuguese Jews but was born in Seville. He came to court in April 1622, and the next year he became the official court painter. In 1623 when England’s Prince Charles and the Duke of Buckingham visited Madrid, it had become clear that Olivares was the King’s favorite.
At the end of 1624 Olivares advised Felipe IV to visit the provinces in order to increase support for the empire and give offices to some of their nobles. Olivares published the “Union of Arms” calling for a reserve force of 140,000 men drawing 44,000 from Castile and the Indies, 16,000 each from Catalonia, Portugal, and Naples, 12,000 from Flanders, 10,000 from Aragon, 8,000 from Milan, and 6,000 each from Valencia, Sicily, and islands. In May 1625 Spaniards and Portuguese drove the Dutch garrison out of Bahia in Brazil. In a costly campaign Spanish forces led by Spinola captured Breda in the Netherlands after a siege of ten months. In the first week of November the English attack on Cadiz failed, and they lost 62 ships and 7,000 men. That year the King made Olivares the Conde Duque de Sanlucar la Mayor. The Colegio Imperial was founded at Madrid by Jesuits with a special emphasis on mathematics, sciences, and the art of war because Olivares believed that Spain lacked good commanders.
From 1621 to 1626 the Crown minted 19.7 million ducats of copper (vellon) coins and made a profit of 13 million ducats while the premium on silver went from 4% to 50%. Minting was suspended on May 8, 1626. That year the Cortes extended the millones tax to paper, salt, and ship anchorage, doubling the annual revenue to 4,000,000 ducats.
In January 1626 Felipe and Olivares convened the Cortes of Aragon at Barbastro but got nothing. In March they opened the Cortes of Valencia at Monzon where the Valencians complained that expelling the Moriscos had damaged their economy; but they voted for a subsidy of 1,080,000 ducats to maintain 1,000 infantry over fifteen years. Later the Aragonese agreed to raise 2,000 volunteers for the same period or pay 2,160,000 ducats. The King and Olivares opened Catalonia’s first Cortes in 27 years on March 28 at Barcelona. Catalonia wanted their grievances redressed, and on May 3 amid protesting the Cortes refused to contribute the large sums demanded by Olivares, who had estimated their population at one million when it was about 400,000.
Portugal also declined to participate in the Spanish Union of Arms. Other than making the Portuguese Bishop of Solsona, Miguel Santos de San Pedro, president of the Castile Council, Olivares did little to bring provincials into the imperial government. The bishop also served as Viceroy of Catalonia 1627-29. Olivares had his favorite, Jéronimo de Villanueva, dominating the Council of Aragon from 1626. Felipe IV’s younger brother, Fernando of Austria, was Viceroy of Catalonia 1632-33.
On May 8, 1626 the minting of vellon coins, which had lost half their value, was suspended. On July 24 Olivares proclaimed the Union of Arms inaugurated, and the King promised to pay one third of Castile’s contribution from his own income. Also in 1626 a Spanish army led by Fadrique de Toledo drove the Dutch from Gibraltar, and Spanish forces in America replaced them in Guayaquil and Puerto Rico. On January 31, 1627 Olivares declared Spain bankrupt and suspended all payments to bankers because some Portuguese businessmen had agreed to settle the Crown’s debts at lower interest. Over 15 years Olivares called upon Peru to contribute 350,000 ducats and New Spain 250,000. On July 13 the publication of books was severely restricted. The King reviewed his successes in the first six years for his Council of State, but soon bad times would be upon them.
On August 7, 1628 the King reduced the tariff on the copper coins by 50% and caused severe deflation. Those holding these coins lost 14 million ducats. Lack of foreign goods since the frontiers were closed in 1624 along with bad harvests and inflation which raised prices caused a depression 1629-31. Price-fixing and an attempt to withdraw vellon coins from circulating failed. The 1628 deflation hurt the private economy while the royal treasury was relieved. Felipe IV and the nobles paid their servants with the debased copper coins. Olivares had 198 servants, but the Duke of Osuna had 300. By 1630 the combined income of titled aristocrats was more than 5,000,000 ducats. Felipe II had supported 66 writers, but his grandson Felipe IV employed 223 including dramatists Lope de Vega, Pedro Calderón de la Barca, Ruiz de Alarcon, Hurtado de Mendoza, and Gabriel Bocangel.
In September 1628 a Dutch fleet of 31 ships with 700 cannons and 3,000 men led by Piet Heyn captured Spain’s treasure fleet of 20 vessels off Matanzas, Cuba. Private investors lost 6 million ducats and the Crown one million plus galleons and artillery worth 3 million. In 1631 a fleet sailing from Vera Cruz late in the season was destroyed by a hurricane by the Yucatan coast, and another 5 million ducats of American treasure were lost.
Felipe IV had begun translating Guicciardini’s six-volume History of Italy in 1628, and he completed it in about five years. In 1627 Felipe fell in love with the 16-year-old actress Maria Calderon, and she became his mistress. On April 17, 1629 she gave birth to Juan José of Austria. Then she told the King she wanted to be a nun, and she spent the rest of her life as an abbess in a remote monastery.
Duke Vincenzo of Mantua had died on December 26, 1627, and in March 1628 Milan’s Governor Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba was ordered to send troops into Montferrat, starting a war there against the French, who were supported by Pope Urban VIII and crossed the Alps in the spring of 1629. Savoy came over to the French, and Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba gave up Casale in the peace of Cherasco on June 19, 1631. The next month Olivares set up a commission to investigate the Vatican and its Spanish nuncios.
In 1631 Spain imposed the media anata (half-year) tax on the first year’s income from offices and a salt tax, which provoked a revolt in Vizcaya that went on for three years. In February 1632 the Cortes convened and voted for a subsidy of 2.5 million ducats over six years with new taxes on sugar, paper, tobacco, chocolate, and fish. That year Olivares persuaded Pope Urban VIII to make a special grant, and they seized a year’s income from the Archbishop of Toledo. To save Flanders they asked nobles to give 1,500 ducats and caballeros 150. Six wealthy grandees were each ordered to pay for 4,000 men, and eight grandees each had to provide 1,500 soldiers in 1634. That year Felipe’s younger brother Fernando on his way to govern Flanders took 15,000 soldiers and helped the Habsburg Empire defeat the Swedish allies at Nördlingen. Also Olivares appointed Princess Margherita of Savoy to govern Portugal with help from some Castilians, but this increased the conflicts there. He also tried to get the Portuguese to loan Spain 500,000 cruzados a year for their military expenses. Portugal was supposed to increase its taxes to 500,000 cruzados a year. In 1634 and 1635 Castile sent warships to recover Portugal’s lost colonies in Brazil. In October 1634 Spain’s ambassador Count Oñate signed a treaty with the Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand II for an offensive and defensive alliance.
In 1635 the Crown took over half the loans held by Spaniards and all of those held by foreigners. A stamp tax on official documents was imposed in 1637, and they borrowed 487,000 ducats in American silver and two years later borrowed another million. Crown rents, titles, and offices were sold, and aristocrats were expected to raise and equip soldiers. From 1629 to 1644 the Inquisition sold offices to contribute revenue to Spain.
In May 1635 France declared war on Spain, and money was needed to garrison the frontier in Catalonia. In 1637 French forces invaded Catalonia, and in 1638 they besieged Fuenterrabia. On July 19, 1639 a French army captured Salces. Catalans tried to relieve the French siege of Rosellon; but many deserted as resentment against Castile increased. The French surrendered the fortress at Rosellon on January 6, 1640.
In 1637 the Portuguese began rioting in Evora and other towns over taxes, but the nobles, who were making money from sugar plantations in Brazil, did not join the revolt. In October the Dutch regained Breda. That year Spain’s expenses were more than twice its revenues. When the French besieged Fuenterrabia in the Basque country from June to September 1638, Catalans did not help Aragonese, Valencians, and other Spaniards rescue the town. In December the allies fighting the Habsburg Empire took over Breisach which blocked Spain’s road from Milan to the Low Countries.
In 1639 Olivares was appointed Procurador de Cortes, authorizing him to intervene in the business of Castilian cities to increase the collection of royal taxes. That year he had the poet Francisco de Quevedo imprisoned because he suspected he was being paid by Cardinal Richelieu. His books were confiscated, and he was kept in a monastery for four years. On October 21 the larger Dutch fleet led by Maarten Tromp destroyed the Spanish fleet led by Antonio de Oquendo in the battle of the Downs. An attempt by a Spanish-Portuguese armada was made to reconquer Brazil, but in January 1640 they were defeated by a smaller Dutch force and scattered in the West Indies. Olivares wanted to make peace, but he found it more difficult than prosecuting the wars. In 1640 no treasure fleet arrived from America, and the Spanish credit system was collapsing.
Also in 1639 Spain chose to attack France on the Catalonian border. Catalans raised a force of 12,000 men who helped the royal army defeat the French invasion, though the Castilians accused the Catalans of massive desertions. Olivares directed the royal army of 9,000 men fighting in that campaign at Salces to find billeting in Catalonia during the winter, but the Catalan Cortes did not meet.
Following a poor harvest in 1639, in February and March of 1640 fighting broke out between the Castilian troops and Catalans. No rain in the spring caused an intense drought, and a special holiday was declared so that Catalans could go on a pilgrimage to a local shrine. Without rain the villagers were afraid of starving if they had to quarter soldiers. The town Santa Coloma de Farners northeast of Barcelona refused to accept a regiment of Castilians. The Viceroy of Catalonia, Dalmau de Queralt, Count of Santa Coloma, could not restore order. Neapolitan cavalry killed Antonio de Fluvia. Duke Olivares ordered the Viceroy to arrest the diputado militair Francesc de Tamarit, and two members of the Barcelona city council were also detained. An ecclesiastical court investigated the Diputacion leader Pablo Claris, Canon of Urgel.
On April 30 the royal alguacil Monredon announced that any civilian carrying a firearm would be arrested, but a mob chased him and officials into a local inn which they burned, killing Monredon and others inside. In revenge a Castilian regiment burned some houses and a church in Ruidarenes, and the Viceroy ordered soldiers to burn Santa Coloma de Farners to the ground which they did along with the rest of Ruidarenes on May 14. That day the local bishop excommunicated the troops, and people in about fifty villages began attacking billeted soldiers and plundering the property of royal officials and those loyal to them. A little rain saved the harvest, but people worried about harvesters coming to the hiring fair.
Realizing the extent of the revolt, on May 27 Olivares ordered conciliation of the Catalans. The council refused to close the gates of Barcelona to keep harvest laborers out of the fair on June 7, and a riot resulted with mobs plundering the property of the rich. The Bishop of Gerona excommunicated the troops who retreated. The rebel forces entered Barcelona and released Tamarit from prison. Bands of peasants fought the soldiers and set churches on fire. The Viceroy escaped but collapsed from exhaustion and was stabbed to death. The rioting lasted three days and was called “El Corpus de Sangre.”
The revolt spread to Gerona, Balaguer, Lérida, and Tortosa as rebels killed Castilians and royal officials. Castilian soldiers took revenge by attacking peasants. Enrique de Aragon, Duke of Cardona, became Viceroy of Catalonia. In July the rebels took over the port of Tortosa. Perpignan refused to open its gates to Spanish soldiers, but artillery destroyed the walls; the city capitulated, and many fled to the hills. Viceroy Cardona investigated the crimes of the soldiers and imprisoned many; but Olivares ordered them released. Cardona caught a fever and died a few days later. Catalans revolted again and published their Catholic Proclamation, stating their grievances. Catalonia got its fourth viceroy of the year in Pedro Fajardo de Zúñiga, Marquis of los Vélez, who had been Viceroy of Valencia 1631-35 and Navarre 1638-40. On September 24 the Diputacio appealed to France for military aid. The next month the Catalans agreed to let French ships use their ports, and the Catalans would maintain the 3,000 troops France would send.
Olivares ordered a Portuguese army of 6,000 men commanded by Duke Joao of Braganza to restore order in Catalonia; but the Portuguese were planning a revolution, and on December 1 they attacked the royal palace in Lisbon and assassinated the Viceroy’s secretary Miguel de Vasconcellos. The next day they proclaimed the Duke of Braganza Portugal’s King Joao IV and escorted Princess Margaret to the border. Joao’s grandmother Catarina had tried to inherit the throne of Portugal in 1580, but she was displaced by Spain’s Felipe II. The Duke owned nearly a third of Portugal and was by far the richest man. Felipe IV persuaded the popes Urban VIII and Innocent X not to recognize Joao IV and not fill vacant sees. By 1649 Portugal had only one bishop left. Felipe also tried to have Joao assassinated, and his brother was captured in Germany and put to death.
Olivares offered concessions to the Catalans as a Spanish army of 20,000 men led by the militarily incompetent Viceroy Vélez marched toward Barcelona. On January 16, 1641 Pablo Claris proclaimed that Catalonia was a republic protected by France. He learned that France did not agree with this, and a week later he changed his declaration to allegiance to France with a constitution. The French agent Duplesis Besançon organized a French and Catalan force to defend Barcelona. On January 26 outside the walls by the Montjuic castle about 6,000 French and Catalans met the army of Velez, who ordered a retreat and lost about a thousand men. On February 26 Philippe, comte de la Mothe-Houdancourt, arrived from France to unite the armies in Catalonia, and Claris became ill and died one week later.
The Catalans split into warring factions as nobles fled to more peaceful Aragon. On March 28, 1642 the Catalans and French defeated the Spaniards at Monzon, and at Lérida on October 7 Philippe’s army of 13,000 French and Catalans defeated a Spanish force of 20,000 men who suffered seven times as many casualties. However, in 1643 Spain’s army drove the French out of Aragon, and in July 1644 they regained Lérida. Felipe IV was with the army and swore to respect Catalan laws.
A conspiracy led by the Duke of Medina Sidonia, Captain-general of Andalucia and brother of the Queen of Portugal, was discovered. He was arrested, confessed, was fined, and released on the condition that he would challenge King Joao IV to a duel; but Joao declined. The Marquis of Ayamonte tried to make Andalucia independent with help from Portugal, France, and the Dutch, but he was arrested, confessed, and was executed. In 1641 Felipe appointed the loyal Portuguese Francisco Melo to govern the Spanish Netherlands.
In February 1641 Olivares tampered with the coinage again, and the premium on silver reached 200% before a deflationary decree in September 1642 brought the prices down 25%. Olivares and Felipe IV had gone to Aragon in April 1642, but in September the French regained Roussillon and seized Perpignan. Spanish forces led by the Marquis of Leganés tried to recapture Lérida but were defeated. Meanwhile the Count of Castrillo was running the government in Madrid. King Felipe returned at the end of the year, and on January 17, 1643 he ordered Olivares to retire. Six days later Olivares left Madrid, and he died in 1645. Felipe had his critic, the satirist Francisco de Quevedo, released from prison in 1643.
On May 19, 1643 a French army of 17,000 infantry and 6,000 cavalry decisively defeated Melo’s army of 27,000 veterans at Rocroi near France’s northern border. Felipe IV went to Aragon, and on July 10 he met the mystical nun Maria de Agreda (1602-65). She persuaded him to trust God and rule himself without the aid of a favorite because Olivares had been responsible for an oppressive government using ungodly methods. She wrote the Mystical City of God in six volumes which had 49 editions in many languages. She was an abbess for 35 years, and over 22 years she and Felipe exchanged more than 600 letters.
Felipe IV began attending Council meetings and tried to act decisively; but he always liked to hear the advice of others, and he chose Luis de Haro, a nephew of Olivares, to be his chief political advisor and carry out his orders. In July 1644 Felipe told his ministers that they could no longer afford war and so must make peace. That year Jéronimo de Villanueva, who had been the lieutenant of Olivares, was arrested and charged with heresy by the Inquisition. To raise money a 1% increase in the sales tax (alcabala) was sold for government bonds (juros). During the 1640s and 1650s the sale of offices was increased by extending it to financial and judicial offices with deplorable results.
France’s Louis XIII died on May 14, 1643, and Queen Anne of Austria, Felipe IV’s sister, was regent until 1651. Spain’s Queen Elisabeth died on October 6, 1644, and her only son Balthasar Charles died two years later.
Felipe approved a reform of the religious orders in 1645. He wrote plays, painted pictures, and collected valuable works of art by Diego Velazquez (1599-1660), Bartolomé Murillo (1618-82), Francisco de Zurbaran (1598-1662), Alonso Cano (1601-67), and others.
In 1646 heavy taxes were imposed in Sicily on flour, meat, wine, and oil with priests and nobles exempted. Then one man in five was conscripted to serve in the army or navy. A famine occurred in the spring of 1647, and Viceroy Velez made it worse by prohibiting bakers from raising the price of bread. A rebellion in Palermo erupted and liberated 800 prisoners. After three days of anarchy Velez canceled the new customs duties, restored the right of the people to elect their magistrates, and granted amnesty to all in the revolt. A French fleet was nearby, and the revolt spread to Catania, Agrigento, Syracuse, and Trapani. Only Messina stayed loyal to Spain.
The uprising in Naples that summer was even more difficult to suppress. The Duke of Arcos was Viceroy of Naples and levied an excise on fruit. On July 7 a peasant selling figs refused to pay it, and during the scuffle a fish vendor Tommaso Aniello called “Masaniello” emerged as a leader and led them to the Viceroy’s palace. He fled as Cardinal Filomarino tried to preach to them. Masaniello had the people release prisoners, burn houses of tax collectors, attack Spanish guards, and he stopped stealing by punishing his own followers. Viceroy Arco negotiated with Masaniello, abolished taxes, restored liberties, and even persuaded the crowd to kill Masaniello. On August 4 Prince Massa was elected to replace him. On October 1 Juan José of Austria arrived with a force that bombarded the city, and after three days of fighting the mob killed Massa. Other leaders were tried, and they appealed to France who selected Henri of Lorraine, the Duke of Guise whose Angevin ancestors had been kings in Naples. However, Cardinal Mazarin opposed the Guise family and supported the Italian blacksmith Jenaro Anese and sent a fleet. In February 1648 Juan José gained control of Naples and sent the Duke of Guise as a prisoner to Spain. Anese and other ringleaders were punished, and Spain’s ambassador in Rome, the Count of Oñate, was appointed viceroy.
Spain had lost the valuable ports of Lisbon, Barcelona, Palermo, and Naples and was bankrupt again in October, but by suspending payments and abrogating pledged income the Crown gained about ten million ducats. Peace negotiations went on for years, and on January 3, 1648 Spain and the Dutch agreed to a treaty that became part of the Münster treaty signed on October 24. After eighty years of war Spain finally recognized the independence of the United Provinces of the Netherlands.
In 1647 the plague came first to Valencia and took 30,000 lives. Andalucia had high food prices and tax riots early that year, and then the epidemic arrived, killing 40,000 people on the Malaga coast. From there the plague spread to Aragon and Catalonia. High prices also provoked an insurrection in Granada in March 1648 that lasted several weeks before it was suppressed.
Spain’s Felipe II (I in Portugal) had claimed Portugal in 1580 and stayed there three years until the Portuguese resistance was pacified. He promised the Portuguese they could govern their country while he expected them to contribute to the maintenance of the Spanish Empire. The Council of Portugal had six Portuguese including one prelate. The Portuguese had their own Cortes for making laws, and the Portuguese continued to rule their overseas empire in Brazil, Africa, India, and southeast Asia. The Portuguese used their own language and currency, though some writers published in Castilian. Felipe prohibited English ships from using Portuguese ports, and in 1593 this policy was extended to the Dutch. In the Tagus 50 Dutch ships were seized, and trade was banned.
Felipe II’s nephew Cardinal Albrecht was the first viceroy to govern Portugal 1583-93 and was inquisitor-general 1586-96. In 1591 he appointed a visitor to the Inquisition in Brazil where New Christians (former Jews) financing trade in sugar and slaves and tax collection were more strictly controlled. In Lisbon the Inquisition went after Protestants and other “heretics.” The Inquisition also had branches in Evora, Coimbra, and in Goa, India. From 1581 to 1600 the Portuguese Inquisition sentenced 3,200 people and put 221 to death. Between 1540 and 1700 their cases were related to blasphemy 27%, to Muslims 24%, to Jews 10%, and to Lutherans 8%; the others related to sorcery, sexual offenses, and threats against the Inquisition.
In 1588 an attempted invasion of England failed when the Spanish armada was devastated. In April 1589 Queen Elizabeth sent Francis Drake with 83 ships and 15,000 men to help install Portuguese Dom Antonio in Lisbon, but on the way they sacked Corunna and plundered Peniche. In May the English found Lisbon well defended and Antonio’s followers lacking. The English fleet withdrew. Antonio went to France looking for support, and he died in Paris in 1595. In the 1590s the Portuguese lost 45% of their ships returning from Asia.
Felipe II established a Council of Finance for Portugal in 1591, and starting in 1593 Portugal was governed by a regency council led by Archbishop Miguel de Castro of Lisbon which included Cristovao de Moura. The Habsburg monarchs of Spain ruled Portugal until 1640 and increased the titled houses from 25 to 69. In 1594 Felipe II closed the port of Lisbon to Dutch merchants, and some of them sailed around the Cape to India. In 1599 the Synod of Damper banned Nestorian Christianity. The Jesuits had supported the Spanish takeover, and by 1600 they had 600 members in twenty houses in Portugal. At that time the Portuguese had 1,600 ports in Asia. Many Portuguese married Asians, and they had 4,000 native mercenaries, 10,000 armed slaves, and 20,000 Christian converts and half-castes.
In January 1600 Spain’s Felipe III (II in Portugal) and the Duke of Lerma appointed the King’s confidant Cristovao de Moura, Marquis of Castelo-Rodrigo, to be the first Viceroy of Portugal. They also sent a committee of three Castilians to supervise the House of India and finances, and in 1602 Castilians were put on the Council of Portugal and the Finance Council, breaking the commitment Felipe II made in 1581. Also in 1602 Felipe III imposed a new code of laws on Portugal that protected and aided farmers, controlled hunting, limited seigneurial rights, prevented the seizure of farm equipment, allowed village assemblies to resolve their disputes, and encouraged administrative officials (corregedores) to let more land be cultivated. Viceroy Moura worked to protect Portuguese privileges, resigning in protest in 1603 when the King’s favorite, the Duke of Lerma, violated them. Spain made peace with England in 1604. Moura was viceroy again 1606-12 until he quit for the same reason. In between and after him the viceroys were bishops until Archbishop Miguel de Castro of Lisbon was viceroy 1615-17. He was succeeded by the half-Castilian Diego de Silva y Mendoza who governed in spite of protests until 1621.
The Portuguese Asian trade got competition from the English East India Company in 1600, the Dutch East India Company in 1602, and then from the Danish, French, and Swedes. As a result Portugal lost much of its trade. When the truce began with the Dutch in 1609, Portugal opened its ports to them. New Christians (converted Jews and Muslims) offered 170,000 cruzados to leave Portugal, but the Spanish Crown multiplied this figure by ten, made it an exaction, and rejected their right to office. In 1610 all privileges granted to New Christians were canceled, and the Inquisition resumed. Felipe III did not visit Portugal until 1619 when he wanted them to recognize his son as heir to their throne. After 1620 silver coming to Spain from America diminished. In the 1620s Spanish settlers and the Inquisition began persecuting Portuguese, accusing them of being Jews and other things.
When Felipe IV (III in Portugal) and Olivares began to rule Spain in 1621, they replaced the hated Viceroy with three Portuguese regents led by the Bishop Martim Afonso Mexia of Coimbra. Olivares also appointed a committee to enforce the payment of debts to the government. After the truce ended in 1621, the Dutch started their West Indies Company and began attacking Spanish and Portuguese vessels. In 1622 the English with help from Persians took over the Portuguese colony at Hormuz. In 1624 the Dutch captured Brazil’s capital at Bahia, and in 1630 they defeated the Portuguese at Ceylon, the same year they captured Olinda, Recife in Pernambuco, and Mombasa. In 1630 there were 450 monasteries in Portugal with 4,200 monks and 3,200 nuns. The Dutch took Sao Jorge da Mina in 1637 and Arguim in 1638. However, the Portuguese fought off attacks at Macao, the Cape Verde Islands, Malacca, and Goa. Expenditures were required for fortresses, fleets, and weapons. The Portuguese managed to win back Bahia in 1625, Malacca in 1629, Olinda in 1631, and Mombasa in 1634. Spain’s peace treaty with England in 1635 provided some relief for a while.
Olivares imposed new taxes on Portugal without consulting their Cortes. In 1626 he renegotiated Spain’s debts with the New Christian bankers in Portugal. In July 1628 he demanded big loans. Riots over taxes broke out in several towns in 1629 with the worst one in Porto. Rich merchants were forced to pay a subsidy in 1631, and the state established a monopoly on salt. That year Olivares required every new public official to donate half his first-year’s salary. In 1633 Archbishop Joao Manuel was appointed viceroy, followed by the Count of Basto. Upon his death the next year Felipe IV appointed his daughter, Margherita of Savoy. She relied on her secretary, Miguel de Vasconcelos, who was considered the tool of Olivares. Also in 1634 a tax on Lisbon was extended to the rest of Portugal, and the transfer tax was increased to 25%.
Tax riots erupted in Vila Real in 1636 and in early 1637 in Lisbon because of a new tax on fishermen. That year the tax resisters at Evora in Alentejo burned tax and court records, but they were suppressed. In 1638 and 1639 many Portuguese men were conscripted into the infantry and cavalry to fight in Europe. Nobles and clerics were summoned to Madrid, leaving fewer leaders in Portugal. New Christians (former Jews) were allowed to sell their property and leave the country if they contributed 1,500,000 cruzados to the government. In 1640 a major revolt in Catalonia occupied Spanish forces. As early as 1638 Cardinal Richelieu sent the former French consul Jean de Saint-Pé to offer Portugal support against Spain.
Sebastiao had been born on January 20, 1554 and inherited the throne of Portugal in June 1557. He never married and died on August 4, 1578; but some Portuguese clung to the belief that he was not dead and would return to rule. By the 1620s and 1630s people began to turn their hopes to Duke Joao of Bragança, who was the great grandson of Joao III and grandson of the Duchess Catarina of Bragança, who had claimed the throne of Portugal in 1580 but was displaced by her cousin Felipe II of Spain. Joao became the Duke of Bragança in 1630 and was the richest landowner in Portugal and overlord to 80,000 people. He composed music sung in his chapel and declined to govern Milan, and in 1639 he rejected the position of Viceroy of Naples.
In 1639 Olivares made Duke Joao of Bragança military governor of Portugal and ordered him to recruit an army of 1,000 men for the European war. The next year he asked Bragança to lead the Portuguese army to fight the rebellion in Catalonia, but Joao refused. In November he began supporting the conspiracy against Spain that included his business agent, Joao Pinto Ribeiro. On December 1 some nobles attacked the royal palace in Lisbon, killed the Viceroy’s secretary Miguel de Vasconcellos, and arrested Margherita of Savoy, the Duchess of Mantua. She was forced to order the Spanish garrisons to surrender and then was put in a convent. They acclaimed Joao king of Portugal, and he entered Lisbon on December 6 and was crowned Joao IV on the 15th. Spanish garrisons defending the Tagus and at Setubal and Viana soon surrendered. On December 11 they formed a Council of War and appointed a governor in each province with the authority to conscript men aged 15 to 70, but they exempted those unable, farmers, and the only sons of widows. Almost all of Portugal accepted Joao IV except Angra in the Azores and Ceuta in North Africa which remained loyal to Felipe IV.
The Cortes of Portugal met on January 28, 1641 and three more times before Joao’s death in 1656. They confirmed that no new taxes could be enacted without their approval. They imposed a 10% property tax on all except the clergy, who contributed according to their diocese’s funds, so that they could collect 1,800,000 cruzados to pay for 4,000 cavalry and 20,000 infantry. The lower classes favored Joao overwhelmingly, but the nobles, merchants, and clergy were divided. On June 12 King Joao IV granted commercial privileges and religious freedom to the Dutch in exchange for Portugal’s right to recruit officers and buy weapons in Holland. Portugal formed an alliance with France on July 1. That month a conspiracy led by aristocrats failed; four nobles were beheaded; six commoners were hanged; and the Archbishop of Braga died in prison. A Dutch fleet attacked Cadiz on September 10, but it failed.
Joao’s brother-in-law, the Duke of Medina Sidonia, led a rebellion in Andalucia that failed but distracted Spanish forces. The Duke confessed he had been manipulated, denounced Joao, and was spared, but his nephew, the Marquis of Ayamonte, was executed. Some nobles had family ties in Spain, and three Portuguese would serve as governors in the Spanish Netherlands and one in Sicily. The Jesuits supported Joao; but the Inquisition remained loyal to Spain as did New Christians to whom the Spanish government owed money. Joao offered New Christian bankers immunity from prosecution so that they would loan him money. He sent the Bishop of Lamego to Rome, but he was ignored by Pope Urban VIII and had to be protected from Spaniards by the French. A commercial agreement was made with England’s Charles I on January 29, 1642, but this had little effect because of the imminent English Civil War.
Joao IV convened the Cortes again in September to ask for 2,400,000 cruzados, but the three estates and the commoners could not agree. The military complained that Joao’s secretary of state, Francisco de Lucena, had worked with the hated Vasconcelos, and he was accused of conspiring with Olivares. Evidence was lacking, and a commander under torture accused him and later changed his mind; but Lucena was executed in April 1643. Fighting occurred on the border. Joao went to Evora in July to be near the troops commanded by Obidos who was arrested for retreating at Badajoz and replaced by Matias de Albuquerque. On May 26, 1644 his forces battled Spanish troops at Montijo near Badajoz, and both sides suffered heavy losses but claimed victory.
Felipe IV sent an army of 17,000 men to attack Elvas, and amid discontent Albuquerque was relieved of command. That year peace negotiations began at Osnaburgh and Münster; but Portuguese delegates working with the French and Dutch were not recognized by the Spaniards and Austrians. In 1647 and 1648 the Portuguese lost 220 ships to Dutch attacks, and in June 1648 the Dutch made peace with Spain.
Francisco Suarez was born in Granada on January 5, 1548. After failing two tests for the recently founded Society of Jesus, he was admitted into the Jesuit order in 1564. Then he studied canon law for five years at Salamanca University where he was influenced by Francisco de Vitoria. Suarez was ordained in 1572 and began teaching philosophy at Segovia, and he taught at Rome 1580-85; by then he was so renowned that Pope Gregory XIII attended his first lecture. After teaching seven years at Alcala and five years at Salamanca, in 1597 King Felipe II persuaded Suarez to teach at Coimbra in Portugal to give that university more prestige, and he taught there until 1616. He died in 1617 after trying to mediate a dispute in Lisbon between ecclesiastical and lay authorities.
The extensive writings of Suarez are perhaps the culmination of scholastic theology. His book on laws, De Legibus, was completed in 1612. The next year at the request of Pope Paul V he wrote a response to the claims of Anglican theologians and England’s King James I to the divine right of kings without being under the authority of the Pope. In his Defense of the Faith (Defensio Fidei) Suarez argued against the oath of allegiance James had imposed in which his subjects abjured the doctrine that princes excommunicated by the Pope may be deposed or murdered by their subjects. Suarez believed that princes ruled by consent of the people and could be deposed if they became tyrannical. His book was publicly burned in London and in France, where refugee Grotius in writing his books was careful about praising the Spanish theologian. Suarez called conflict within a state sedition and held that the aggressor is evil, but defense is just. Once again, the people have the right to overthrow an unjust ruler. Suarez called private wars duels and considered them intrinsically evil.
Suarez believed that theology was the highest study involving the human conscience and should be the basis for law. He often agreed with the ideas of Vitoria but attempted to refine his ideas more precisely. All people are born free by natural law, and nature does not confer on any particular person political jurisdiction over another. Rather the power of the state resides in the whole body of mankind. However, unlike Vitoria, Suarez did not believe that a single state for all humanity was feasible. Thus the power of making laws resides in several political communities. The legitimacy of a ruler can be lost if the consent of the community is forfeited. The form of government depends on human choice because it is too difficult for the whole community to make laws directly. If a legitimate ruler lapses into tyranny, the people may wage a just war against him by the right of self-defense. If a tyrannical usurper is clearly unjust, and if no other remedy is available, it is licit for even a private individual to kill him. Suarez held that unjust tax laws do not bind the conscience.
In discussing the theological virtue of faith, Suarez argued that the Church has the right to preach the Gospel everywhere and to defend its preachers against force and violence that hinders them. For this purpose the Pope may distribute realms of the unbelievers, though peaceful means of persuasion must first be employed.
Suarez discussed the issue of war in respect to the theological virtue of charity. He took the position that war is not evil in itself, and he argued it is not forbidden to Christians because defensive wars and even offensive wars that are right are permitted. He cited the three traditional conditions that are needed to justify war, namely legitimate power, a just cause, and just, proper, and proportionate conduct of the war. Generally an inferior prince or imperfect state may not declare war without authorization of the superior, though Vitoria and he made an exception if the sovereign prince is negligent in avenging a wrong. Jurisdiction depends on there being a tribunal which is supreme in that realm. Suarez argued that although the Pope has no direct temporal authority, he may authorize a prince to conduct a just war; a war declared against that legitimate authority, Suarez considered contrary to charity and justice.
Injuries must be serious to cause a war, which is only justified if they refuse to give satisfaction for the injury. A defensive war should be tried before being offensive. An injured sovereign should not enter into an offensive war of revenge if the chance of victory is unlikely. Suarez gave two reasons for declaring a war, either because of an injury or to defend the innocent. Like Vitoria, Suarez also recommended getting advice from good men, who should inquire diligently into the truth. Common soldiers are not required to make such an investigation, though the Popes Sylvester and Adrian held that they must do so if they have reasons for doubting the justice of the war. Suarez also justified incidental injuries to innocents in conducting the war, and innocents he defined as children, women, those unable to bear arms, ambassadors, and Christian clergy; but he considered all others in the enemy state guilty. Vitoria and Suarez went so far as to allow capital punishment of the guilty individuals after victory.
Between the anonymous Lazarillo de Tormes, the first Spanish picaresque novel in 1554, and the third, Quevedo’s The Swindler, in 1626, Mateo Aleman’s popular Guzman de Alfarache in two parts is by far the longest and perhaps the greatest picaresque novel because of its complexity. Mateo’s father was the physician Hernando Aleman, who was a new Christian from a Jewish family forced to convert in 1492. Mateo Aleman was considered Spain’s second greatest novelist in the golden age of literature after Cervantes, and they were both born in September 1547. Mateo earned a medical degree but decided not to be a doctor. Instead he went into business. He put off marriage until he needed a dowry to pay off a debt in 1571. He studied law and went to prison for debt in 1580. He was appointed a judge in the state of Extremadura in 1583 and went to jail for abusing his authority. He moved to Madrid in 1584 and to Seville in 1592. The next year he judged working conditions of the slaves in the King’s mercury mines in Almaden. In 1599 he published the first part of Guzman de Alfarache which had sixteen editions in five years. He obtained a settlement over a pirated edition in 1601. A spurious sequel appeared in 1602, and that year Aleman was put in debtors’ prison. His second part of Guzman de Alfarache was printed at Lisbon in 1604. He moved to Mexico in 1608 and was last heard of living in Chalco in 1615.
In the novel Guzman is the illegitimate son of a Genoese usurer and a Spanish prostitute. Guzman is twelve years old when his father dies and leaves the family destitute. He has numerous adventures, and the novel also includes several novellas. Guzman is mistakenly arrested, works as a stable-boy, and becomes a thief in Madrid. He has erotic adventures, becomes a soldier, and is discharged in Genoa. He travels to Rome, learns from beggars how to get alms, and serves a cardinal but is dismissed for gambling. He serves the French ambassador as a buffoon. In Part 2 Guzman panders for the ambassador, but an embarrassing episode causes him to leave Rome. He accepts a thief as a servant while he goes from Siena to Florence and Bologna. Guzman is jailed for slander, learns how to cheat at cards, and goes to Milan. He defrauds a usurer and presents himself in Genoa as a gentleman. Now his relatives respect him, but he robs them and sails to Barcelona. He is tricked by whores and goes to Madrid where he buys a house and becomes a usurer. He marries, but his wife loses his money and dies. He studies to be a priest but falls in love and marries again. In hard times his wife works as a prostitute, and they move to Seville where his mother is a procuress. His wife runs away with a captain to Italy, and Guzman steals and swindles. He is caught and sentenced to six years as a galley slave. His attempt to escape fails, and he is sentenced to life. He repents his evil ways and informs against mutineers, giving him the promise of freedom.
Francisco de Quevedo y Villegas was born September 17, 1580 in Madrid. His father was secretary to Charles V’s daughter Maria who was married to Emperor Maximilian II. Later he was secretary to Queen Ana of Austria, wife of Felipe II. He married Doña Maria de Santibañez in 1579, and she died in 1586. His son Francisco attended the Jesuit Imperial College of Madrid and entered the University of Alcala in 1596 where he studied logic, physics, and mathematics and learned Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, French, and Italian, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1600 and a master’s in philosophy. Quevedo went to the court in Valladolid and followed it back to Madrid in 1606. He was a friend of Cervantes, was praised by Lope de Vega, and corresponded in Latin with the Belgian humanist Justus Lipsius who also wrote satire. In 1609 Quevedo wrote a panegyric defending Spanish culture, and he offered corrections to the Hebrew translation required by censors in the Polyglot Bible. He quarreled with the fencing master Luis Pacheco de Narvaez which led to a long feud that sent both to jail. Quevedo’s satires of the famous poet Gongora and others brought him many enemies. His mother invested much money in the town of Torre de Juan Abad, and a lawsuit against the town started in 1609 lasted beyond his own life. The estate there provided him a refuge for reading and writing. Quevedo had a library of 5,000 books and spent much time reading. After killing a man in a duel in 1611, he went to Italy.
In 1613 Quevedo went to serve Pedro Villez Giron, Duke of Osuna and Viceroy of Sicily (1611-16). In the fall of 1615 the Duke sent him to deliver 300,000 ducats as the Sicilian parliament’s biennial contribution to King Felipe III. Quevedo also advised the King to promote Osuna to Viceroy of Naples in 1616. The next year Quevedo brought 1,800,000 ducats from Naples to the King. In April 1617 Quevedo met with Pope Paul V and persuaded him to support Spain’s navy against Venice. In June 1618 he defended Osuna before the Council of State when he was accused of conspiring to overthrow the Republic of Venice. The next month Quevedo became a knight in the Order of Santiago with an income of 400 ducats. Osuna was imprisoned in 1620 until his death in 1624. Quevedo was imprisoned for six months and then exiled to his estate at Torre de Juan Abad. In March 1623 he returned to Madrid where he satirized the court poet Juan Ruiz de Alarcon. He praised the reform program of the powerful Duke Olivares and supported him for twelve years. He visited Aragon with King Felipe IV in 1626.
Saint Teresa had been canonized in 1622, and on July 31, 1627 Felipe IV decreed her the second patron saint of Spain; but in February 1628 Quevedo opposed this because of his devotion to Santiago (Saint James). He was banished from the court for the rest of the year, but in January 1630 Pope Urban VIII decreed Santiago the only patron saint of Spain. In 1632 the King proclaimed Quevedo his secretary, an honorary position. He had a long relationship with Ledesma, who bore him several children, but he did not marry until February 1634 when he wed the widow, Doña Esperanza de Mendoza, who was as old as he was. They separated permanently in 1636, and she died in 1641. His satires made him many enemies. He denounced Pacheco de Narvaez who was then imprisoned. After Felipe IV read Quevedo’s poetic satire of him, on December 7 1639 Quevedo was arrested and kept in solitary confinement for six months at a monastery in Leon. On October 7, 1641 he sent an appeal to Olivares because conditions had made him blind in one eye, crippled, and cancerous; but he was not released until June 1643, five months after Olivares resigned. Quevedo wrote The Life of St. Paul and The Providence of God while in prison. He died on September 8, 1645.
Quevedo wrote the picaresque novel The Swindler (La Vida del Buscon) in 1608, but it was not published until 1626 when it went through four editions. He warned the readers that he would reveal tricks of the low life using craftiness, deceit, subterfuge, and swindles. The story is narrated by Pablos whose father was a pick-pocket and his mother a procuress. They warn him if he does not steal, he will not eat. At school a boy calls his mother a whore, and he gets into a fight. His father sends him to a boarding school in Segovia where the only food is watery soup. After starving for a while he is rescued by Don Alonso, who sends his son Don Diego to study at Alcala with Pablos as his servant. Any pigs or chickens that come into their place he kills for food. He borrows cups from nuns, takes swords from policemen, and raids gardens and orchards. He gets a letter from his uncle who is a hangman. Diego leaves Alcala without him, and Pablos goes to find his uncle. On the way he meets a priest who brags he has written a great play about Noah’s ark and 110 sonnets to a woman’s legs he has never seen. Pablos writes “A Proclamation Against All Idiot, Useless and Rubbishy Poets,” and they argue. Pablos meets a toothless soldier with a scarred face who brags of his fighting prowess. They both lose their money playing cards with a cheating hermit. Pablos learns that most businessmen have no conscience. He stays with his uncle who claims Pablos is a university graduate. When his uncle gets drunk, Pablos leaves. He ends up in Madrid in a school for crime.
In book 2 of The Swindler Pablos is assigned a district and learns to use a disguise to repudiate debts. The school’s thieves are arrested. Pablos uses his money to bribe the guards and officials, and he gets out on probation. He likes a girl and pretends he has money. His ruse is tripped up when a horse he borrows throws him and when his friend Diego reveals who he really is. Pablos learns how to be a card sharp, but former friends steal his money. A woman in her fifties, who helps girls attract men, advises that he “can’t take out if he doesn’t put in” because one reaps what one sows. Pablos is in bed with her when she is arrested. He is taught to kidnap children and make them steal for him. He joins a theater company and becomes a successful actor, but he falls in love with a nun who persuades him to quit the theater. In Seville he gets involved with Matorral who sells knifings. They attack police, and Pablos kills two. He decides to go to America and finally realizes he needs to change his life and his ways.
Quevedo began writing Sueños (Visions or Dreams) in 1606 and completed it by 1622, but he could not get it published until 1627 when it had four editions. The long title of Sueños can be translated as Dreams and Discourses of Truths Revealing Abuses, Vices and Deceptions of All Occupations and Estates of the World. He was forced to revise this book in 1629, and the new version was published as Youthful Jokes and Witty Pranks. Jupiter replaces God as the judge, and lawyers and executioners take the place of angels and devils. Quevedo considered dreams a sorting out of lived experiences through fantasies and nightmares. The Italian priest Genaro Andreini known for performing exorcisms in Madrid was satirized as a bad minister of justice. Naked Truth has to live with a deaf-mute, and unable to find a place in the world, Justice is banished by humanity to heaven. “The World from Within” portrays the hypocrisy in towns and cities as people perpetrate fraud and deceit. The author in “The Vision of Death” meets Death after reading Lucretius and the book of Job. Death rules with many little Deaths who are personified as desire, cold, hunger, fear, and laughter. Well known people appear in the dance of Death. He also lampooned women for hiding their physical reality with make-up, wigs, and other devices and depicted greedy wives, fake virgins, old hags, whores, and officious nuns and dueñas.
Quevedo wrote The Discourse of All Devils or Hell Reformed in 1627 and published it the next year. This description of hell was not presented as a dream and was criticized even more as sacrilegious. Famous authors discuss their ideas on government. The dueña (landlady) is so bad that Lucifer has her torture offensive devils.
Quevedo completed The Hour of All Men in 1636 and comes back to Earth to portray people at the hour when they receive what they deserve. Jews are depicted as hypocrites who worship money, and Moriscos are shown as being worse after their banishment in 1609 to the Ottoman Empire. Yet Quevedo argued that Christians’ exploitation and prejudice against American Indians and Africans were unjust because their slavery was because of skin color which is not a crime. He also showed the folly of other Europeans as well as Spaniards who have no trade but war. Venetians are selfish and have no conscience. The Dutch rebel in the Netherlands, and their merchants compete against the Spanish and Portuguese monopoly of trade in America. The French promote Calvinism and diminish Spanish wealth by wars. Germans are treacherous heretics, and the Turks are infidels.
Quevedo excoriated the entire system of justice from constables to notaries, lawyers, and judges. Physicians are exposed for inflicting pain and killing patients. The detriments of Spanish honor are explicitly described as not eating when hungry, widows pining away, maidens forgoing pleasure with men, wives denying desire, men crossing seas to fight, killing in revenge, spending beyond one’s means, and taking away bodily pleasure. In The Hour of All Men women criticize men for being prejudiced against them, for denying them education, and for men’s double standard in love affairs.
Quevedo was influenced by the Stoic philosophy of Seneca and Epictetus. He believed that God is the one and only truth. Human wisdom comes only after death when the soul is free of the ignorant world. In 1621 Quevedo dedicated The Politics of God, Government of Christ Our Lord to Olivares, but it was not published until 1626 when it had nine editions. He also defended his economic policies in The Babblers’ Stopper in 1630. Quevedo added a second part to The Politics of God, but it was not published until 1655. He believed that the best government followed the will of God, and the worst was Satan’s tyranny. He favored monarchy and opposed tyrannicide. He considered a bad king with good advisors preferable to a good monarch with bad counselors. The king is a public person and must do all he can for the people. The true king should imitate the Christ and avoid flatterers, minister to those in need, and protect the life, health, and freedom of the people. He justified war to preserve the kingdom and its religion. Yet in chapter 10 he insisted that the king is obligated to establish peace because that is what Jesus taught.
Baltazar Gracian was born on January 8, 1601 at Belmonte in Aragon into a noble family. He studied the humanities and at a Jesuit school in Zaragoza 1616-19. Then he entered a novitiate, took perpetual vows in 1621, studied philosophy and theology, and was ordained a priest in 1627. He became a professor at Lérida in 1631 and taught languages and philosophy at the University of Gandia 1633-36. Gracian served as an army chaplain during the revolt in Catalonia in the early 1640s. All but one of his books were published with another name, usually that of his brother Lorenzo Gracian, so that he would not have to get religious approval. Yet it was widely known that Baltazar was the author.
Gracian published editions of The Hero in 1637 and 1639. In the prolog he expressed his wish that readers would become exceptional. He endeavored to shape people into greatness with brief maxims and eternal deeds. He hoped they would recognize themselves as they are and should be. His book was intended to be a guide toward excellence and an art for becoming distinguished. He warned people to hide their defects and conceal some of their intentions. Most important is to develop understanding, judgment which is prudent, and intellect which creates wit. The hero is brave, quick, subtle, and witty. Gracian gives many examples including Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and many Spanish kings and heroes such as the Duke of Alba, Felipe II, Hernan Cortes, Charles V, Count of Fuentes, and Alfonso V of Aragon. A king should have a great heart and be magnanimous. Great knowledge must be aided by great experience to achieve perfection. What is most comfortable and enjoyable is usually least heroic. One should strive for excellence. Solomon wisely chose to be eminent in peace as his father David had been in war. When evaluating ourselves, we often find ways of escape and are bribed by our emotions. Winning an argument has little value if one does not win good will. Benevolence is the highest talent. Compassion works miracles, but hostility produces monsters. Greatness cannot be based on sin but only on virtue and God, who is everything.
In 1640 Gracian wrote the essay, “The Politician, Don Fernando the Catholic” in which he praised the King for uniting his kingdom of Aragon with Castile into greater Spain by marrying Queen Isabel. Gracian believed a king should be pragmatic and be well educated in Renaissance humanism. The kingdom should have other centers, not just one all-powerful capital. A good king will choose competent and efficient ministers and will delegate authority to execute the laws. Gracian also praised Isabel and argued that a wife and mother can play an important role in the administration. A great politician fights without gunpowder by using peaceful diplomacy.
Gracian published The Discreet in 1646. He considered character and intellect the basis of radiant wisdom and believed they are granted by nature and that both may be improved by effort and by art. The discreet begin to know themselves by paying attention to their own temperament and reason. Practice can lead to mastery by doing an action often and well. He observed that Spain is applying itself to commanding others. He admired this authority but warned against affectation, rashness, and arrogance. He advised people to confess their faults as a heroic boldness. To grow in goodness is brightness, but waxing and waning he called “lunacy.” One can be benefited by having friends with wide knowledge, good character and intellect who are ready for all occasions. Now that so many things are advancing, human knowledge is improved by knowing how to choose wisely. Good taste understands circumstances and considers what is fitting for the occasion. Cultivate the moderation of the golden mean. Avoid giving in to one’s moods and develop a quick wit. The judicious and observant can master any subject. A critic is excellent oneself in order to increase the value of what one appraises. Intelligence discerns the true from the false and understands intentions and purposes. They can judge merit dispassionately while keeping to themselves. They can arrange things and comprehend anything. The wise know and practice what is best. Strong truth, brave reason, and powerful justice need a fine manner to make them shine.
Gracian is best known for The Manual Oracle and Art of Prudence which was published in 1647 and has been translated into at least ten languages. He used the opportunity to dedicate this book to Felipe IV’s new favorite, Luis Mendez de Haro. The manual has 300 aphorisms interpreted, of which 72 had appeared in previous writings. Gracian suggested that a man without knowledge is like a world without light, but knowledge without courage is barren. He warned about passions and the faults of one’s nation. He advised cultivating friends, who can teach you, and so combine the pleasure of conversation with the advantage of instruction. Keep imagination under control. One should know and cultivate one’s strengths. Fools suffer because they do not think. The most important things should be thought over the most. Affairs of honor should be avoided because one leads to another and often to dishonor. Why engage with a fool? What intelligence slowly contemplates diligence may promptly apply. The wise may fail by procrastinating. Do not give in to every impulse. Self-improvement begins with self-knowledge. The truth is usually seen but rarely is heard. Notice the speaker’s intention. The wise learn more from their enemies than a fool does from friends. Flattery is more dangerous than hatred which can be a more truthful mirror of faults that can be corrected. As virtue is its own reward, so too vice is its own punishment. Only a well-founded reputation is permanent.
Some of Gracian’s aphorisms are: don’t condemn; have friends; gain goodwill; in prosperity prepare for adversity; and never compete. People of goodwill always are at peace. Be courteous and avoid being disliked. Be practical; goodness is for all time. Be distinctive in speech and action. Avoid affectation. Never complain. Do and be seen doing. Revise judgments. Be self-sufficient. Practice the art of letting things be. Find the good in everything. Look inside things. Be accessible. Practice the art of conversation. Use foresight. Control your desires. Select your friends with discernment and use them with discretion. Be careful what you say. Know your weaknesses. Overcome envy and hostility. Stand up for yourself. Avoiding one wrong is better than a hundred successes. Keep something in reserve. Do not waste influence. Do not be in a hurry. Know or find someone who does. Trust your heart. Do not be dogmatic or ceremonious. Do not bet your reputation on one thing. Recognize faults. Do what is popular and use others for what is unpopular. Praise with good taste. Peacemakers live long and rule life. Be realistic about yourself and your affairs. Appreciate excellence. Avoid fools. Know when to move. Make progress by merit and drive.
Know the great people of your era. Practice moderation. Use truth skillfully. Contradict tactfully. Do not multiply a mistake. Watch out for hidden intentions. Express yourself clearly. Be open to reconciliation with enemies. Do not be obstinate nor a hypocrite. Caution shows prudence. Be obliging. Do not be ruled by first impressions. Do not gossip. Plan your life wisely. Know when to ask. Do not tell superiors your secrets. Use your advantages. Gracian noted that Spaniards lack patience, but Belgians have it. Do not be carried away by what you just heard. Use human means as if there were no divine and the divine as if there were no human means. Act for yourself and others. Do good in small ways and often. Do not break off relations. Get help when you need it. Prevent injuries. No one belongs completely to someone else. Know when to forget. Limit your pleasures. Challenge subordinates. Do not be so good that you are insensible. Use smooth words and sweet manners. Do right away what the fool puts off. Use your uniqueness. Understand temperaments to learn intentions. Be pleasant. Go along as far as is decent. Know how to renew your character. Display yourself but avoid being notorious. Be trustworthy. Use absence to increase your value. Be inventive. Do not lose your temper. Adapt to circumstances. Prefer to be loved with respect rather than desire. Know how to evaluate people. Let your ability surpass your position. Maturity earns respect. Understand others by putting yourself in their place. Seek genius, intellect, and good taste. The last aphorism is to be a saint, for virtue is the key to all perfections in life and after death.
Gracian wrote The Art of Ingenuity in 1642 and expanded it into Wit and the Art of Ingenuity in 1648. This is primarily a book on aesthetics, rhetoric, and literary criticism.
Gracian’s only novel is The Critic which was published in three parts in 1651, 1653, and 1657. Part One: Youth describes how Critilo is stranded on an island where he educates younger Andrenio by teaching him language. Critilo represents the views of Gracian and is mature, intellectual, independent, Stoic, and a quiet and spiritual introvert who turns out to be the father of Andrenio who is emotional, immature, dependent, Epicurean, and a noisy, physical extrovert. The centaur Chiron tells them about the world, and they attend the great fair. In Part Two: Maturity they travel in Aragon and France and visit an Amphitheater of Monstrosities and the Court of Honor. Part Three: Old Age takes them to Rome and the Isle of Immortality. This and other works by Gracian were greatly admired by the German philosophers Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche.
Baltazar Gracian published Meditations for Communion with approval under his own name in 1655. Because he did not follow traditional Christian dogma, he was punished for The Critic in 1658 by being restricted to bread and water. He died that year on December 6.