Queen, Mother, and Stateswoman
When Philip IV of Spain died in 1665, his heir, Carlos II, was three years old. In addition to this looming dynastic crisis, decades of enormous military commitments had left Spain a virtually bankrupt state with vulnerable frontiers and a depleted army. In Silvia Z. Mitchell's revisionist account, Queen, Mother,…
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Mariana of Austria (1634-96) has long been underestimated. Regent for her young son, Carlos II, last Habsburg ruler of Spain, she is reputed to have been pig-headed, incompetent, and not very bright. The famous Velasquez painting showing her in a skirt too wide to fit through a door and hair stretching out like an accordion has not helped her reputation. But Silvia Mitchell has mined the archives and produced a wonderful revision of this queen’s regency, showing how, over the course of her regency, Mariana led the Spanish monarchy into transformative military and diplomatic alliances with the English and the…
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