Charles II

Charles II, 1661–1700, king of Spain, Naples, and Sicily (1665–1700), son and successor of Philip IV. The last of the Spanish Hapsburgs, he was physically crippled and mentally retarded. His mother, Mariana of Austria, was regent for him and continued to rule after his majority. Her bias in favor of Austria aroused opposition, and she was forced into exile (1677) by Charles's illegitimate brother, John of Austria. After John's death (1679) she again exercised power. Charles's reign saw the continued loss of Spanish foreign power, as was evident in the War of Devolution and the War of the Grand Alliance, and a severe decline in Spain's economy, society, and intellectual life. The indolent grandees and the clergy regained a political role. Tax exemptions for privileged groups brought high taxes on industry and agriculture, and emigration increased. Before his death the childless Charles named Philip of Anjou as his heir. Philip's succession (as Philip V) provoked the War of the Spanish Succession.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Spanish and Portuguese History: Biographies