Biography of Juan José de Austria (1629-1679)

Juan José of Austria. Museo del Prado.

Noble and Spanish military, born in Madrid in 1629 and died in the same city in 1679. Son of King Felipe IV and the actress María Calderón, called la Calderona, was raised in secret in Ocaña, where he received a princely education oriented toward an ecclesiastical career, but by Council of the count Duke of Olivares recognized him the King in 1642 because the lack of heirs to the Crown.

The title of Prince was awarded in 1643. The monarch always rejected its recognition as an infant, what would have been to legitimize their inheritance rights, but granted him the Grand Priory of Castile and Leon in the order of San Juan, in addition to the Priory of Consuegra, in whose Castle settled.

From a very young man held positions of great responsibility. He was sent in 1647, when he was just 18 years old, to Naples to quell the revolt which led Masaniello and which had its origin in high taxes. Four years later, Masaniello was killed, and suppressed revolt. On his return to Spain were entrusted to it the troops trying to pacify Catalonia in which had exploded an uprising on the occasion of the tax policy carried out by Olivares and by the so-called Union of weapons as a means of defence against the war with France. The pacification was achieved in 1652, after the expulsion of the French from Barcelona. This success made his popularity immense and earned him the appointment of viceroy of Catalonia.

Sent to Flanders with the title of viceroy of this territory, he achieved some initial successes such as the lifting of the siege of Valenciennes, but was defeated by the French, commanded by Turenne, at the battle of the dunes (1658). It followed one while longer in charge of the Administration in Flanders, until he was called to Spain by the King.

It was in command of an expedition that was intended to restore Portugal in 1661. Despite taking some Portuguese squares, finally he was defeated at the battle of Estremoz (1663) and fell out of Royal favor. He returned from Portugal the following year, relegated to their domains of Consuegra.

Felipe IV died in 1665, Juan José strove to achieve the legitimization of their rights to the monarchy. To this end he planned to marry one of the daughters of the late Felipe IV; This project produced the alarm of the Austrian branch of the Habsburgs. He took part in the revolts that were raised at the time of the Regency, which earned him to be banished from court by the Regent Mariana of Austria and the valid this, father Nithard, who it was sent to Flanders to deal with a new French attack. Juan José refused this order in 1668, year in which was definitely exile accused of plotting against the valid Queen Regent. To not be arrested, he fled to Catalonia where stood in front of a small army which marched on Madrid. This fact caused the fall of stockbrokers in 1669, which then withdrew from the capital with the appointment of vicar general of the Crown of Aragon.

To Nithard a new valid, Fernando Valenzuela, happened since Juan José did not dare to take power after the fall of the former. Juan José had to face again the hostility of the new Regent and Queen, which allocated him in 1670 to Flanders and five years later to Naples. He returned briefly to 1675 Madrid called by Carlos II, who had just be recognized of age and, therefore, stood at the head of the Government. Carlos II dealt with that of freeing himself from the tutelage of his mother and the new valid. Juan José was again away from the Court by the Queen Mother.

In 1676 was the fall of Valenzuela, overcome by the continuous scandals that caused its privanza; It was then when, helped by the greats of Spain and the army, Juan José returned to Spain with the title of Prime Minister of his stepbrother Carlos II, where he served until his death in 1679. He tried to govern with honesty, but was bound by its commitments with the aristocratic oligarchy that had given him the power; This, coupled with the economic crisis and the fact that foreign policy was forced by the continuous military defeats to sign the peace of Nijmegen in 1678, eventually causing their loss of prestige and the ensuing disappointment of supporters, who had put in his person the hopes and longings of recovering the power and prestige of the old enjoyed Spain in Europe. In their three years of rule he banished Valenzuela to the Philippines and humbled the Queen Mother in revenge for the earlier insults of this.

Juan José de Austria died in the midst of general indifference, abandoned by all those who had committed. Even his half-brother, the King, was indifferent to his death. Despite this, it received the honors that to his rank, he was buried in El Escorial and his heart, by express mandate of the deceased, sent to the chapel of the Pilar of Zaragoza.

Don Juan José de Austria child. Caves.

J. Ribera: Juan José de Austria on horseback. Real Palacio. Madrid.

The reign of Carlos II