Biography of Gaspar de. Conde-duque de Olivares Guzmán y Pimentel (1587-1645)

The count-Duke of Olivares. Velazquez. Museo del Prado (Madrid).

Politician Spanish although born in Rome, January 6, 1587, and died in Toro (Zamora) from July 22, 1645. Her figure has become the history of being the famous valid of Felipe IV, better known by his titles of count and Duke.

He was the third son of Enrique de Guzmán, second count of Olivares and Felipe II in Rome Ambassador, and María Fonseca Pimentel. The first years of his life passed in Italy, in cities such as Rome, Sicily and Naples, where his father served in various diplomatic capacities. As second son of a family of noble lineage, he was educated to devote himself to the State Church; However, the death of his two brothers changed his life. The eldest son, Jerome, had already died before that Gaspar reached the age of majority; the second died in 1604 in Oropesa.

In 1601, he moved to study at the University of Salamanca, where he led a life of luxury and pomp not recommended for a student from a good family. His father, very concerned about their training, hoped that came to be named Cardinal, for which had precise information on his education, which obtained the desired result, since little by little University life marked deeply the personality of olive groves, this time acquired a great legal erudition and a penchant for arts and letters that did not abandon him throughout his life.

Count-Duke of Olivares. Velazquez. Palacio Real (Madrid).

Between 1601 and 1606, years in which Felipe III transferred the Court to Valladolid, went with his father long periods in this city, trained in the courtly life, especially after the death of his brother, which made him the heir to the House of olive groves. In fact would take over her little later, in 1607, following the death of his father in Seville.

A few months before he died, his father had arranged her wedding with Inés de Zúñiga and Velasco, daughter of the counts of Monterrey and Lady of Queen Margaret. Subsequently, the own Gaspar concluded the wedding of his sister, Leonor de Guzmán, with Manuel de Fonseca and Zúñiga, count of Monterrey and brother of Inés. Her marriage was born only a daughter, the Marquise de Elche, who died very young (in 1626).

Between 1607 and 1615, the new count of Olivares spent seasons on their doorsteps and stately domains from Seville. His life, during this time, developed with great ostentation, dedicated to the pleasure of the hunt and the arts, for which surrounded himself with artists and writers. A bastard son is known at this time, Julianillo, which then would be recognized and named Enrique Felipe de Guzmán.

A result of this dissolute life was the disastrous economic situation in which was involved to 1611. The Duke of Lerma, connoisseur of his lust for power, tried to move him from the court offering him the post of Ambassador to Rome, but Olivares refused to accept. However, between 1612 and 1615 were developed all the tricks, intrigues and handlings that ultimately led him to make him in valido de Felipe IV, including a series of very expensive gifts for the monarch. It all started when in 1615 the Prince Felipe marries Isabella of Bourbon; After the nuptials, Felipe wanted to organize his future Court with similar characters to it. Olivares, who saw his chance, it got that he was appointed gentleman of the Prince. Lerma and Felipe III looked askance at Olivares and tried to turn him again from the Court, to which returned him to the Embassy in Rome. The Court, at that time, was a hotbed of intrigue, and Olivares took the Duke of Uceda against Lerma, who devised the way to move you from the future King by the hatred that was transmitting the Prince by a nurse. But the influence of Olivares was already large, and used for the first time one of their characteristic weapons: applied to Felipe IV permission to leave, since its presence was not like this. But Felipe IV refused.

In 1618 Lerma tried to move definitely to olive groves of the future King, but, aware of the little force that was left to the valid, refused to leave. Olivares, with these strategies, was settled in its influence on the future King and his force on the Court.

When occurred the death of Felipe III, the Duke already had the game won. His Government began the same day that the new monarch ascended the throne. His first act was to separate the power to those who had held it in times of the valid Lerma and Uceda, for which both and RodrigoCalderón harshly punished. He promised the people reform who wanted to be revolutionary and summoned together to study them, applying the management reform measures. These, though superficial, earned him many followers and the sympathy of the people who supported him enthusiastically until 1623. All their claims were aimed at achieving social and political regeneration.

In foreign policy, the triumphalist ideas of Olivares led to the monarchy to abandon the prudent course of action followed during the reign of Felipe III and return to the imperialist policy of Carlos Vand Felipe II . However, the pride and the lust for power were its major flaws, and for her performance was spoiled the negotiations of wedding of the infanta María with the Prince of Wales, gaining the enmity of England. Also confronted France, namely the cunning Richelieu, by the issue of the Valtellina and the probate lawsuit of Mantua, unnecessary issues for a Spain's battered resources.

But his biggest mistake was, without doubt, resume fighting with Holland after expiry of the twelve years ' truce. This war definitely ruined Spain and undermined his prestige and military great power. In addition, complicated the war in the Netherlands to Spain in the thirty years war, and the peace of Westphalia was a disaster for their interests.

In domestic policy, the performance of the Conde Duque was characterized by the attempt of subjugation that sought to implement in all realms, based on the idea of obtaining resources to finance its foreign policy, which already not could be taken solely of the exhausted Castilla. But in his performance it did not consider the subtle liberties not Castilian realms, so it decided to impose their interests by force. Their attitude and their actions triggered a dangerous war in the Kingdom of Aragon, used up to its last consequences by his great enemy, Cardinal Richelieu, as well as the war of Portugal, which was resolved with the loss of this Kingdom.

Dimension of the Spanish Empire in the 17TH century.

Black year for Spain was 1640: Gaspar, sick and sunk by the dismal failure of its policy, he wanted to leave the Government, but the King, indifferent to issues of State, did not want to dispense with it. In 1643, the unsustainable situation, the King dismissed Olivares and this left Madrid on the sly.

Initially retired Olivares at Loeches, but the great of Spain did not see with confidence that was so close to Madrid, nor that his wife remained at the Court. For this reason they drafted a memorial where outlined the charges against Olivares and elevated it to the King, but this was answered by another memorial by the own olive groves. The controversy came damaged the drafters of the first, but managed that the Duke sought is another target, which was none other than Bull.

In Toro, Olivares has his life exerting a moderate local power and without having pretensions along with the King. In court, however, remained his wife as a testimony that the valid had not been banished, but it had voluntarily turned away from the capital of the Kingdom. This situation was maintained for a relatively short time; Felipe IV, according to the advice of Sor María de Ágreda, expelled from the Court to his wife and his sons and the Duke denied his claim to become the Chief of the army of the Portuguese border, claim illogical considering its position. The refusal of the King was one of the most bitter drinks for the superb Olivares, he began to understand his situation of "valid fallen". In 1644 the Inquisition opened proceedings against him and in 1645 the powerful Duke died in Toro. The corregidor of Toro, which had the order not to leave him out of the villa, nor let out his body until it did not receive the express order of the King. On 10 August he was buried in Loeches, abandoned by everyone.

The reign of Felipe IV

Related topics

Spain, history of (10): 1598-1700.


CHAMORRO TURREZ, e.: I, count-Duke of Olivares. Barcelona, Planeta, 1992.

ELLIOTT, J.H.: The count-Duke of Olivares and the legacy of Felipe II. Valladolid, 1977.

ELLIOTT, J.H.: Richelieu and Olivares. Barcelona, 1984.

ELLIOTT, J.H.: Memorials and letters of the count-Duke of Olivares. Madrid, 1978.

MARAÑÓN, g.: The count-Duke of Olivares. Madrid, Espasa-Calpe, 1990.

E gladly Carvajal.