1902 Encyclopedia > Charles II of Spain

Charles II
King of Spain

CHARLES II. (1661-1700), king of Spain, son of Philip IV., was only four years old at the death of his father. The regency was left in the hands of the queen, Anna Maria of Austria. She appointed a council, at the head of which she placed Neidhard, her confessor, whom she also made grand inquisitor. But Don John, the illegitimate son of the late king, having gained great popularity by his military successes, marched on Madrid, and forced her to dismiss Neidhard, and give to himself the vice-royalty of Aragon. An unsuccessful war with France, and the loss of Sicily further weakened her power; and in 1675 Charles assumed the government, and took Don John as his chief adviser. Still Spain continued to suffer in the great European contest ; and in 1678 she was forced, in the treaty of Nimeguen, to cede Franche-Comté and several considerable towns in the Low Countries to France. In the next year she sustained another serious loss in the death of her ablest minister, Don John. Immediately after the treaty of Nimeguen, Charles espoused Louisa of Orleans, a niece of Louis XIV., who for the next eleven years maintained harmony between Spain and France. The queen-mother now left the retirement of the convent in which she had been- placed, and once more, amid the empty folly of the king and the court, assumed considerable authority. After the death of Louisa, Charles married Anne, a sister of the Emperor Leopold I. ; and in 1694 he joined the country of his wife and of his mother in declaring war against France. But he effected nothing, and the French troops had reached Barcelona, when Spain was saved by the treaty of Ryswick (1697). As the king was childless, negotiations concerning the succession occu-pied the last years of his life, and after leaning for a long time to the side of Austria, at last, a month before his death in 1700, greatly through the influence of the Pope, he left the crown to Philip Bourbon, grandson of Louis XIV, who succeeded as Philip V.

See Spain under Charles II. ; extracts from, the correspondence of Alexander Stanhope, British ambassador at Madrid from 1690 to 1700, edited by Mahon (Lond. 1840), and Mignet's Négociations relatives à la succession d'Espagne.

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