Recorded Webinar: Philip IV

Decline, decadence and the end of the Golden Age

By Professor Alexander Samson, published 20th March 2024

Decline, decadence, crisis, stagnation, and adversity are terms powerfully associated with the reign of Spain’s Planet King; sombre tones that contrast sharply with the glittering cultural and artistic achievements (enhanced by his patronage) that led the period to be dubbed ‘the’ Golden Age, a label consciously competing with France’s later Grand Siècle. Much work still needs to be done to bring Philip IV into focus and from beneath the shadow of his great favourite [privado], the Count-Duke of Olivares and the picaresque overtones apparent in contemporary representations of the Planet King that reflect the persistence of ideas rooted in the Black Legend about a frivolous, lascivious monarch hemmed in by superstitious religiosity. But how fair are these ideas and did in fact Spain decline irremediably in the 17th century?

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