|Emperor Charles V|
(King Charles I)
|Philip II of Spain|
|Maria, Holy Roman Empress|
|Joan of Spain|
|Don John (illegitimate)|
|Margaret of Parma (illegitimate)|
|Carlos, Prince of Asturias|
|Isabella of Spain|
|Catherine, Duchess of Savoy|
|Philip III of Spain|
|Maria of Spain|
|Anne, Queen of France|
|Philip IV of Spain|
|Maria Ana, Holy Roman Empress|
|Balthasar Charles, Prince of Asturias|
|Maria Theresa, Queen of France|
|Margaret, Holy Roman Empress|
|Charles II of Spain|
Philip III (Spanish: Felipe III) (14 April 1578 – 31 March 1621) was the King of Spain and King of Portugal and the Algarves, where he ruled as Philip II of Portugal (Portuguese: Filipe II), from 1598 until his death. Born in Madrid, the son of Philip II of Spain and his fourth wife (and niece) Anna, daughter of the Emperor Maximilian II and Maria of Spain, he married Margaret of Austria, sister of Emperor Ferdinand II, and like her husband, a member of the House of Habsburg.
Although considered to be a congenial and pious ruler, Philip's political reputation has been negative - an 'undistinguished and insignificant man,' a 'miserable monarch,' whose 'only virtue appeared to reside in a total absence of vice,' to quote three major historians of the period. In particular, Philip's reliance on his corrupt chief minister the Duke of Lerma drew much criticism at the time and afterwards. For many, the decline of Spain can be dated to the economic difficulties that set in during the early years of his reign. Nonetheless, as the ruler of the Spanish Empire at its height, and as the king who achieved a temporary peace with the Dutch (1609-21) and brought Spain into the Thirty Years War (1618-48) through an initially extremely successful campaign within the Holy Roman Empire, Philip's reign remains a critical period in Spanish history.
After Philip III's older brother Don Carlos died insane, Philip II had concluded that one of the causes of Don Carlos' condition had been the influence of the warring factions at the Spanish court. He believed that Don Carlos' education and upbringing had been badly affected by this, resulting in his lunacy and disobedience, and accordingly he set out to pay much greater attention to his later sons' arrangements. Philip II appointed Juan de Zúñiga, then Prince Diego's governor, to continue this role for Philip, and chose García de Loaysa as his tutor. They were joined by Cristóbal de Moura, a close supporter of Philip II. In combination, Philip believed, they would provide a consistent, stable upbringing for Prince Philip, and ensure he avoided the same fate as Don Carlos. Philip's education was to follow the model for royal princes laid down by Father Juan de Mariana, focusing on the imposition of restraints and encouragement to form the personality of the individual at an early age, aiming to deliver a king who was neither tyrannical, nor excessively under the influence of his courtiers.
Prince Philip appears to have been generally liked by his contemporaries; 'dynamic, good-natured and earnest,' suitably pious, having a 'lively body and a peaceful disposition,' albeit with a relatively weak constitution. The comparison with the memory of the disobedient and ultimately insane Don Carlos was usually a positive one, although some commented that Prince Philip appeared less intelligent and politically competent than his late brother. Indeed, although Philip was educated in Latin, French, Portuguese and astronomy and appears to have been a competent linguist, recent historians suspect that much of his tutors' focus on Philip's undeniably pleasant, pious and respectful disposition was to avoid reporting that, languages aside, he was not in fact particularly intelligent or academically gifted. Nonetheless, Philip does not appear to have been naive - his correspondence to his daughters shows a distinctive, cautious streak in his advice on dealing with court intrigue.
Philip first met the Marquis of Denia - the future Duke of Lerma - then, a gentleman of the King's chamber, in his early teens. Lerma and Philip became close friends, but Lerma was considered unsuitable by the King and Philip's tutors. Lerma was dispatched to Valencia as a Viceroy in 1595, with the aim of removing Philip from his influence, but after Lerma pleaded poor health, he was allowed to return two years later. By now in poor health himself, King Philip II was becoming increasingly concerned over the prince's future, and attempted to establish de Moura as a future, trusted advisor to his son and reinforcing de Loaysa's position by appointing him archbishop. The prince received a new, conservative Dominican confessor. The following year, Philip II died after a painful illness, leaving the empire to his son, King Philip III.
Philip married his cousin, Margaret of Austria, in 1599, a year after becoming king. Margaret, the sister of the future Emperor Ferdinand II, would be one of three women at Philip's court who would apply considerable influence over the king. Margaret was considered by contemporaries to be extremely pious - in some cases, excessively pious, and too influenced by the Church - 'astute and very skillful' in her political dealings, although 'melancholic' and unhappy over the influence of the Duke of Lerma over her husband at court. Margaret continued to fight an ongoing battle with Lerma for influence up until her death in 1611. Philip had an 'affectionate, close relationship' with Margaret,, and paid her additional attention after she bore him a son in 1605.
Margaret, alongside the Empress Maria - the daughter of Charles V, and the Austrian representative to the Spanish court - and Margaret of the Cross, Maria's daughter - formed a powerful, uncompromising Catholic and pro-Austrian voice within Philip's life. They were successful, for example, in convincing Philip to provide financial support to Ferdinand from 1600 onwards. Philip steadily acquired other religious advisors. Father Juan de Santa Maria - confessor to Philip's daughter, Dona Maria, was felt by contemporaries to have an excessive influence over Philip at the end of his life, and both he and Luis de Aliaga, Philip's own confessor, were credited with influencing the overthrow of Lerma in 1618. Similarly Mariana de San Jose, a favoured nun of Queen Margaret's, was also criticised for her later influence over the King's actions.
The Spanish crown at the time ruled through a system of royal councils. The most significant of these were the Councils of State and its subordinate Council for War, that were in turn supported by the seven professional councils for the different regions, and four specialised councils for the Inquisition, the Military Orders, Finance and the Crusade tax. These councils were then supplemented by small committees, or juntas, as necessary, such as the 'junta of the night' through which Philip II exercised personal authority towards the end of his reign. As a matter of policy, Philip had tried to avoid appointing grandees to major positions of power within his government and relied heavily on the lesser nobles, the so-called 'service' nobility. Philip II had taken the traditional system of councils and applied a high degree of personal scrutiny to them, especially in matters of paperwork, which he declined to delegate - the result was a 'ponderous' process. To his contemporaries, the degree of personal oversight he exercised was excessive; his 'self-imposed role as the chief clerk to the Spanish empire' was not thought entirely appropriate. Philip first started to become engaged in practical government at the age of 15, when he joined Philip II's private committee.
Philip III's approach to government appears to have stemmed from three main drivers. Firstly, he was heavily influenced by the eirenic ideas being circulated in Italian circles in reaction to the new Humanist theories of governance, typified by Machiavelli. Writers such as Girolamo Frachetta, who became a particular favourite of Philip, had propagated a conservative definition of 'reason of state' which centred on exercising a princely prudence and a strict obedience to the laws and customs of the country that one ruled. Secondly, Philip may have shared Lerma's view that the governmental system of Philip II was fast proving impractical and unnecessarily excluded the great nobles of the kingdoms - it had been creaking badly in the last decades of his father's life. Lastly, Philip's own personality and his friendship with Lerma heavily shaped his approach to policy-making. The result was a radical shift in the role of the crown in government from the model of Philip II.