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King Philip V (Spain) Autographs, Memorabilia & Collectibles

Born: December 19, 1683 in Palace of Versailles, France
Died: July 9, 1946 in Madrid, Spain
Biography | show moreshow less
King Philip V (1683-1746), (French: Philippe) was born in December 19, 1683 at the Palace of Versailles in France to Louis Grand Dauphin and Maria Anna Victoria de Bavaria. In 1700, the King of Spain Charles II died childless but in his will had named Philip, who was the grandson of Charles' half sister Maria Theresa of Spain, the first wife of Louis XIV, as his successor. Upon any possible refusal, the crown of Spain would be offered next to Philip's younger brother, the Duke of Berry and then Archduke Charles of Austria, later Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI. However, Philip had the better genealogical claim to the Spanish throne because his Spanish granddaughter and great-grandmother were older than the ancestors of the Archduke Charles of Austria. Nevertheless, the Austrian branch claimed that Philip's grandmother had renounced the throne of Spain for herself and her descendants in her marriage's contract, but the French branch claimed that it was on the basis of a dowry that had never been paid. It was well known that the union of France and Spain under one monarch would destabilize the balance of power in Europe. So, after a long Royal Council meeting in France at which the Dauphin spoke in favor of the rights of his son, it was agreed that Philip would be crowned but would renounce to the throne of France for himself and his descendants forever. On November 1, 1700 the ambassador along with his son, knelt before Philip and made a long speech in Spanish which Philip did not understand, although Louis XIV did. King Philip V would learn Spanish later in life. That is how Philip became the first member of the House of Bourbon to rule as a King of Spain. Philip's accession in Spain provoked the War of the Spanish Succession which lasted fourteen years, until the Treaty of Utrecht strongly forbade any future possibility of unifying the French and Spanish crowns. On November 2, 1701 King Philip V married Maria Luisa of Savoy, whose parents were the Duke of Savoy Victor Amadeus II, and Anne Marie d'Orleans, who was Philip's second cousin; they were also the parents of Duchess of Burgundy, Philip's sister in law. So, a proxy ceremony took place at Turin, the capital of the Duchy of Savoy, and another one at Versailles on September 11. Maria Luisa, as queen of Spain, served as regent for her husband many times but her most successful term was when Philip was away touring his Italian domains for nine months in 1702. Sadly, she contracted tuberculosis and died in 1714, at the age of 26, and even thought the event emotionally devastated the king, shortly after he decided to marry again, choosing Elisabeth of Parma, daughter of Odoardo Farnese, Hereditary Prince of Parma, and Dorothea Sophie of the Palatinate; so, on December 24, 1714, they were married by proxy in Parma by Cardinal Alberoni, with the concurrence of the Princesse des Ursins, the Chief of the household, of the king of Spain. On January 14, 1724 Philip abdicated the throne to his eldest son, the then seventeen years old Louis, for reasons that are still being debated. One theory suggests that Philip V, who exhibited many elements of mental instability during his reign, did not wish to reign due to his increasing mental decline, and a second theory puts the abdication in context of the Bourbon dynasty. The French royal family recently had lost many legitimate agnates to diseases. In fact, Philip's abdication occurred just over a month after the death of the Duke of Orleans, who had been regent for Louis XV of France, and the lack of an heir made another continental war of succession a possibility. King Philip V was a legitimate descendant of Louis XIV, but manners were complicated by the Treaty of Utrecht, which forbade a union of the French and Spanish crowns, so the theory supposes that Philip V hoped that abdicating the Spanish crown he could circumvent the treaty and succeed to the French throne. Anyways, Louis died just seven months later on August 31, 1724 in Madrid of smallpox leaving no issue. Under those circumstances, Philip V was forced to return to the Spanish throne as his younger son, the later Ferdinand VI, was not yet of age. King Philip V helped his Bourbon relatives to make territorial gains in the War of the Polish Succession and the War of the Austrian Succession by reconquering Naples and Sicily from Austria and Oran from the Ottomans. Finally, at the end of his reign Spanish forces also successfully defended their American territories from a large British invasion during the War of Jenkins' Ear. During his reign, Spain began to recover from the stagnation it had suffered during the twilight of the Spanish Habsburg dynasty. Although the population of Spain grew, the financial and taxation systems were archaic and the treasury ran deficits. King Philip V employed thousands of highly paid retainers at his palaces, not to rule the country but to look after the royal family; and the army and bureaucracy went months without pay and only shipments of silver from the New World kept the system going, so Spain suspended payments on its debt in 1739, declaring bankruptcy. Philip V was tormented by fits of manic depression and increasingly fell victim to a deep melancholia, and his wife Elizabeth Farnese could dominate him entirely; she bore him further sons, including another successor, Charles III of Spain. However, since August 1737 his affliction was eased by the castrato singer Farinelli, who became the main musician of Their Majesties and would sing eight or nine arias for the king and queen every night, usually with a trio of musicians. King Philip V died on July 9, 1746 at El Escorial, in Madrid, but was buried in his favorite Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso, near Segovia. He was succeeded by Ferdinand VI of Spain, who was his son by his first queen Maria Luisa of Savoy.

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