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King Philip IV (Spain) Autographs, Memorabilia & Collectibles

Born: 04/08/1605 in Valladolid, Castile and León, Spain
Died: 09/17/1665 in Madrid, Spain
Biography | show moreshow less
Felipe Domingo de la Cruz later King Philip IV was born on April 8, 1605 in the Spanish city of Valladolid and was the eldest son of Phillip III and Margaret of Austria. At the age of ten, Phillip married Elisabeth of France, who was 13 years old and with whom it seems the relationship was not close. Some historians have suggested that his key minister Olivares deliberately tried to keep the two apart to maintain his influence and encouraged Philip to have casual encounters with other women. Philip had seven children with Elisabeth but only one son, Balthasar Charles, who died at the age of sixteen in 1646. It deeply shocked the king, who appears to have been a good father by the standards of the time and because he was his only legitimate heir. Some Spanish nobles started to conspire to remove Olivares from the court in 1643 and Elisabeth helped them, holding for a brief period a considerable influence over Philip; by the time of her death, however, she was out of favor following maneuvering by Olivare's successor, Luis de Haro. Phillip remarried in 1646 with his niece and daughter of Emperor Ferdinand Maria Anna, also known as Mariana; he based his decision guided by politics and Philip's desire to strengthen the relationship with Habsburg Austria. With her, he had five children but only two survived to adulthood, a daughter Margarita Teresa, born in 1651, and the future Charles II of Spain in 1661, but latter he was sickly and considered in constant danger of dying, making the line of inheritance potentially uncertain. However, perceptions of Philip's personality have changed considerably over time, Victorian historians tended to portray Philip as a weak individual, delegating excessively to his ministers and ruling over a debauched Baroque court and even attributed the early death of Baltasar to debauchery, encouraged by the gentlemen entrusted by the king with his education. The doctors that treated the prince diagnosed smallpox but modern scholars attribute his death to appendicitis. Philip was idealized by his contemporaries as the model of Baroque kingship, and apparently he maintained a beating of rigid solemnity; foreign visitors described Philip as a very impassive person in public almost like a statue, and he was said to have been seen to laugh only three times in his whole public life. Certainly, Philip had a strong sense of his 'royal dignity' but was also extensively coached by Olivares in how to resemble the Baroque model of a sovereign, which would form a political key for Philip throughout his reign. In his personal life, Philip appears to had been a lighter person, it is said that in his early years, he had a keen sense of humor and a 'great sense of fun'.  He privately attended 'academies' in Madrid throughout his reign, and these were lighthearted literary salons, aiming to analyse contemporary literature and poetry with a humorous touch. Those close to him claimed he was academically competent, with good knowledge of Latin and geography who also spoke French, Portuguese and Italian well. Philip, as many as his contemporaries had an intense interest in astrology and his handwriting translation of Francesco Guicciardini's texts on political history still exists. During the reign of Philip's father, Philip III, the royal court had been dominated by the Sandoval noble family and Duke of Lerma was the chief for almost the entire reign. Philip IV came to power as the influence of the Sandovals was being undermined by a new noble coalition led by Don Baltasar de Zúñiga, who first began to develop his own influence over Prince Philip and then introduced his nephew Olivares to the prince, then aged ten. At first, Philip did not particularly trust Olivares but over the course of at least one year, the relationship became very close, with Philip's tendency towards under confidence and diffidence counteracted by Olivares' drive and determination. So, Olivares quickly became Philip's most trusted advisor and when Philip ascended the throne in 1621, at the age of sixteen, he showed his confidence in Olivares by ordering that all papers requiring the royal signature should first be sent to the count-duke. Philip retained Olivares as his confidant and chief minister for the next twenty years. Early in his reign, Philip would be woken by Olivares in the morning to discuss the day's affairs and would meet with him twice more during the day, but later this routine declined until the king would hold one short meeting on policy with Olivares each day. Zúñiga convinced Philip to commit Spain to a more aggressive foreign policy in alliance with the Holy Roman Empire, which led the king to renew hostilities with the Dutch in 1621 in an attempt to bring the provinces to the negotiating table with the aim of achieving a peace treaty favorable to Spain global interests. In 1623 the king closed all the legal brothels in Spain, extended the dormant sumptuary laws on luxury goods and supported Papal efforts to regulate priests' sexual behavior more tightly. Philip had clearly intentions to try to control the Spanish currency, which had become increasingly unstable during the reign of his father and grandfather, but in practice, inflation soared, in part because in 1627 Olivares tried to deal with the problem of Philip's Genoese bankers-who had been uncooperative in recent years- by declaring a bankruptcy state. Once the Genoese debt was removed, Olivares hoped to turn to indigenous bankers but the plan was a disaster. The Spanish treasure fleet of 1628 was captured by the Dutch, and Spain's ability to borrow and transfer money across Europe declined sharply. By the 1630s, Philip's domestic policies were being increasingly impacted by the financial pressures of the Thirty Year's War, and in particular the growing war with France, which costs were huge and the ability of the crown to raise more funds and men from that source was increasingly limited. The king and his government were desperately trying to reduce the responsibilities of central government in response to the chaos of the war and some reform ideas that might have been pursued during the 1620s were rejected on this basis. Financial restrains and higher taxes were put in place but Philip was increasingly selling off royalties and feudal rights along with much of the royal estate to fund the conflict. Historians have argued that the fiscal stringencies of the 1630s, combined with the strength and role of Olivares and the 'juntas', effectively cut Philip off the three traditional pillars of support for the monarchy: the grandees, the Church and the Council of Castile. Crisis came in 1640 when an attempt by Olivares to intervene in Catalonia to deal with the French invasion resulted in revolt, and an alliance of Catalan rebels and French royal forces proved challenging to suppress, and trying to mobilize Portuguese noble support for the war, Olivares triggered a second uprising. Lisbon's nobles expelled Philip and gave the throne to the Braganza's, marking the end of sixty years of the Iberian Union and the beginning of the Portuguese Restoration War. The next year, the Duke of Medina Sidonia attempted another rebellion against Philip from Andalusia, possibly attempting to reproduce the Braganza's success in Portugal. Even though Philip and Olivares were able to repress the ducal revolt, Philip had found himself increasingly isolated; and on his return from Zaragoza, where he had been commanding the army, he found only one of the Castilian nobility had arrived at court on Easter Day 1641, so the threat of Philip being deposed by the grandees of Castile seemed increasingly real. Philip intervened far more in policies during 1641 and 1642 and it has been suggested that he paid more attention to policy making that had traditionally been depicted. Philip's policies were also radical, rejecting the one towards the rebellious Dutch that had held since 1609, entering into the Thirty Year's War, and introducing a system of 'junta', or small committee, government across Spain in competition to the traditional system of royal councils. Following Olivare's fall from power amidst the crisis of 1640-1643, the victim of failed policies and jealously from the nobles excluded from power, Philip initially announced that he would rule alone, becoming, in effect, his own first minister.  The junta system of government began to be dismantled in favor of the older council system; however, this personal rule reverted to rule through a royal favorite, initially Luis de Haro, a nephew of Olivares and a childhood playmate of Philip's, and the counter-reform of the committee system halted. In 1652, the spanish army retook Barcelona and Philip issued an amnesty for the rebels, promising to respect traditional customs and rights in the future. After de Haro's death in 1661, Olivares' son-in-law, the Duke of Medina de las Torres, took his place. Philip was to reign through the majority of the Thirty Year's War in Europe and in his final years, Baltasar de Zúñiga had convinced him to intervene militarily in Bohemia and the Electorate of the Palatinate on the side of Emperor Ferdinand II. Philip had inherited a huge empire from his father but many of his most difficult challenges as king would stem from domestic problems in Spain, which in the 17th century was a collection of possessions: the kingdoms of Castile, Aragon, Valencia and Portugal, the autonomous province of Catalonia and Andalusia and the wider provinces of Naples, the Netherlands, Milan, etc., all loosely joined together through the institution of the Castile monarchy and the person of Philip IV. Philip is well remembered both for the 'astonishing enthusiasm' with which he collected art and for his love for theatre. On the stage, he favored Lope de Vega, Pedro Calderon de la Barca, and other distinguished dramatists. He has been credited with a share in the composition of several comedies. Court theatre used perspective scenery, which was a new invention from Italy not used in commercial theatre at the time.  Artistically, Philip became famous for the patronage of his court painter Diego Velazquez, who was summoned to Madrid by the king in1624, and despite some jealousy from the already existing court painters, Velazquez promptly became a success with Phillip and remained there for the rest of his career until his death painting a celebration of the Treaty of the Pyrenees for Philip. The king and Diego Velazquez shared common interests in horses, dogs and art, and in privately formed an easy, relaxed relationship over the years. The king also supported a number of other prominent painters over the years, including Eugenio Caxés, Vicente Carducho, Gonzales and Nardi, and also accumulated paintings from across Europe, especially Italy, accumulating over 4, 000 by the time of his death. Philip was termed "El Rey Planeta" (The Planet King) by his contemporaries, and much of the art and display at his court has been interpreted in the context of his need to project power and authority, over both Spaniards and foreigners alike. The limited Spanish military successes of the period were celebrated by royal artists to a disparate extent. Several artists from the Spanish Netherlands produced work extolling the Army of Flanders, including Vrancx, Snaeyers, Molenaer and de Hondt. The "re-capture of Breda" itself, resulted in major works by Velazquez, the French etcher Jacques Callot, in addition to various plays and books. King Philip IV also invested in a new palace to display both his art and the ritual of court, and with the help of Olivares, he began the building of the "Buen Retiro Palace" in Madrid, parts of which still remain near the Prado; work started modestly in 1631 with the magnificent "Hall of Thrones" completed by 1635. The palace had its own 'theatre, ballroom, galleries, bull ring, gardens, and artificial lakes', and became the centre for artists and dramatists from across Europe. The palace was built during one of the more difficult periods of Philip's reign and given both: its cost in a time of stringent wartime savings and the protest that ensured from a disgruntled public is considered to have been an important part of the attempt to communicate authority and royal grandeur. The Catholic religion was very important in the life of Philip, especially towards the end of his reign when he was depressed by events across his domains and became increasingly concerned with religious affairs. Particularly, Philip was a devotee of Nuestra Senora del Milagro (Our Lady of Miracles), whose painting was said to miraculously raise and lower its eyes in response to prayer. Whilst married to Elisabeth, Philip had placed their children under the protection of this image and while married to Mariana, they undertook special religious ceremonies together under the gaze of the painting. Philip also had a large standard made with the image of the painting on one side and the royal coat of arms on the other, brought out in processions each year on July 12. As well as marking a strong personal religious belief, the increasingly link between the crown, the Church and national symbols such as Our Lady of Miracles, represented a key pillar of support for Phillip as king. Since monarchs also had a key role in the canonization process and could utilize this for domestic or international political effect, Philip, for example, keen to reach out to his Portuguese subjects, put his considerable influence behind the case for Isabella of Portugal, who had been a 14th-century role model of a "perfect wife", to great effect, ultimately paying for a lavish celebration in Lisbon after her canonization in 1625. Worldwide, it was important for the prestige of Spain that she received at least a proportionate and ideally greater shared with other new saints of other Catholic kingdoms, and Philip sponsored a flurry of texts and books supporting Spain's candidates, particularly in competition with Catholic France. During the emergency of 1640-1643, Philip seems to have had a crisis of faith because he truly believed the success or failure of his policies represented God's favor and judgment on his actions and also the combination of the revolts, the French advances and the loss of his trusted favorite Olivares appears to have deeply shaken him. So, Queen Isabella and the new president of the Council of Castile, Don Juan Chumacero-both involved in the removal of Olivares- encouraged the king to invite mystics and visionaries from across Europe to his court at Zaragoza. The main advised from the mystics was about the importance of the king's rejecting Olivares' replacement, de Haro and the remaining pro-Olivares nobles at court. However, the various mystics were not acceptable to broader Spanish noble opinion and, with de Haro's encouragement, they were ultimately dismissed. Instead, Philip started consulting a better established female mystic, Sister Maria de Agreda, a prioress known for her religious writings and bilocation ability. He asked her to correspond with him and to advise him in spiritual matters. The two became regular correspondents throughout the remainder of their lives, which is documented in over 600 confidential letters between them over a period of twenty two years. Nevertheless, that did not stop Philip's becoming known for his numerous affairs, particularly with actresses; the most famous of these was his actress-mistress Maria Ines Calderon (La Calderona), with whom he had a son in 1629 that was named Juan Jose, and who was brought up as a royal prince. By the end of the reign, and with the health of Carlos Jose in doubt, there was a real possibility that Juan Jose claimed the throne, which added to the instability of the regency years.The king clearly believed that the nun could intercede with God on his behalf and provide advice on what God wished him to do to improve the misfortunes of Spain. Most believed that Philip was involved in protecting Maria from the Inquisition's investigation of 1650, and Philip's son, as Charles II, protected her writings from later censorship. Regarding his titles, in the 1630 Treaty of Madrid, Philip was styled "Philip, by the grace of God king of the Spains, Both the Siciles, Jerusalem, the Indies, etc; archduke of Austria, duke of Burgundy, Milan, etc; count of Habsburg, Tyrol, etc." in full and "the Most Serene Philip IV, Catholic King of the Spains", for short. In the 148 Treaty of Münster, he was styled "Don Philip the Fourth, by the grace of God king of Castile, Leon, Aragon, the Two Sicilies, Jerusalem, Portugal, Navarre, Granda, Toledo, Valencia, Galicia, Majorca, Minorca, Seville, Cerdagne, Cordoba, Corsica, Murcia, Jaen, the Algarves, Algeciras, Gibraltar, the Canary Islands, the Eastern and Western Indies, the islands and terra firma of the Ocean, archduke of Austria, duke of Burgundy, Brabant, Milan, count of Habsburg, Flanders, Tyrol, Barcelona, lord of Biscay and Molina, etc." in full and "King of the Spains, Don Phillip the Fourth", for short. Nevertheless, after a few years of inconclusive successes, Philip IV's reign was characterized by political and military decay and adversity. He has been held responsible for the decline of Spain, which was mainly due to organic causes largely beyond the control of any one ruler. On September 17, 1665 Philip IV died broken-hearted, expressing the pious hope that his surviving son, Charles II, who was only 4 years old at the time, would be more fortunate than himself. In his will, the king Philip IV left political power as regent on behalf of the young Charles II to his wife Mariana, with instructions that she heed the advice of a small junta committee established for this purpose. That committee excluded Philip's illegitimate son Juan Jose, resulting in a chaotic war for the power between Mariana and Juan Jose until his death in 1679.  Following Philip's death, a catafalque was built in Rome to commemorate his life.

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