Philip III of Portugal (April 8, 1605 – September 17,
1665). King of Spain 1621-65 and until 1640, king of
Portugal. Eldest son of Philip III and his wife Margaret
of Austria, Philip IV was born at Valladolid. Known as the
Planet King, after the Sun, the fourth planet in the
astronomy of the time.
His reign, after a few years of inconclusive successes,
was characterized by political and military decay and
adversity. He has been held responsible for the decline of
Spain, which was mostly due, however, to organic causes
largely beyond the control of any one ruler. Philip
certainly possessed more energy, both mental and physical,
than his diffident father.
Feeling himself not yet qualified to rule when he ascended
to the throne at age 16, he allowed himself to be guided
by the most capable men he could find. His favourite,
Olivares, was a far more honest and capable man than his
predecesssor the Duke of Lerma, and better fitted for the
office of chief minister than any Spaniard of the time,
perhaps. Philip, however, lacked the confidence to free
himself from Olivares' influence once he did come of age.
With Olivares' encouragement, he rather busied himself
with frivolous amusements. By 1643, when disasters falling
on all sides led to the dismissal of the all-powerful
minister, Philip had largely lost the power to devote
himself to hard work. After a brief struggle with the task
of directing the administration of the most extensive and
worst-organized multi-national state in Europe, he sank
back into indolence and let other favourites govern.