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03.- Felipe III (1578 - 1621)

Felipe III by Velazquez

Felipe was the son of Felipe II and Anna of Austria and he became king after his father´sDuke of Lerma by Rubens death in 1598. He belongs to a group of Habsburg kings known as "minor kings" as they were not able to reign alone and usually searched the help of ministers, who influenced the whole political life.

Felipe III was more interested in hunting, theater and art than in governing his country and he left this job to his favourite or prime minister . The most important of these favourites was the Duke of Lerma. They were called "validos" and continued to govern next to the king during the whole XVIII century.

It was a difficult time as Spain started to loose its power in the world. Margarita of Austria by Pantoja de la CruzThe Tax Council, the official administration and institutions were corrupted.
Felipe III, at least, tried to reign over a peaceful country and he signed peace treaties with the old enemies: England and the Netherlands. But this time of peace came to an end in 1618 with the Thirty Year´s War.

Between 1601 and 1606 and due to the Duke´s influence, theConvent of the Trinitarias court left Madrid and was established in Valladolid until they returned.

Felipe married his cousin Margarita of Austria. They had five children.
Felipe died when he was 43 years old.
Although Felipe´s reign was the beginning of Spain´s decline from a political point of view, it was also the beginning of the Golden Age, when Spanish literature and art florished. During this age El Greco and Velazquez painted their masterpieces and Cervantes wrote Don Quixote. Famous playwrights were Calderon de la QuevedoBarca (Life is a Dream), Lope de Vega, Quevedo and Tirso de Molina (Don Juan).
The most popular plays were comedies, entremeses and autosacramentales. TheLope de Vega entremeses were short plays, which were performed between the acts of comedies. One has to think that in those days a theaterplay was a full day event, where people had time to eat and drink, dance and enjoy themselves. The autosacramentales were plays which were always based on a religious theme. Many of them were performed in the Plaza Mayor. The king and queen watched the plays from the balcony in the Casa de la Panaderia, where the tourism office is now. The noblemen hired balconies in the other buildings, and the common people watched the play standing in front of Cervantesthe stage. The first theater appeared in the area of Plaza de Santa Ana and many artists used to live in the streets nearby.
The rivalry between Cervantes and Lope de Vega was well known. Lope was very popular among the people, he was wealthy and loved by women. Cervantes was not well known andGongora had no money. Both lived in the same area and it is said that they even had the same lover. Both had daughters that were nuns in the Convent of the Trinitarias. Cervantes lived in Calle Huertas and afterwards in Calle Francos, now called Calle Cervantes. Lope de Vega also lived in Calle Francos and his house can still be visited. Lope de Vega is buried in San Sebastian Church, next to Plaza Santa Ana. Cervantes is buried in Trinitarias Church. His tomb can only be visited on Sundays between masses.
Another well known rivalry was between Quevedo and Gongora. Quevedo used to spend a lot of time in brothels and taverns with the people while Gongora prefered to stay alone and was not very popular.

A statue of Felipe III is in the middle of the Plaza Mayor.


The Empress, the Queen, and the Nun: Women and Power at the Court of Philip III of Spain (The Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science)

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