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Gaspar de Guzmán Olivares, conde-duque de

Olivares, Gaspar de Guzmán, conde-duque de (gäspärˈ dā gōthmänˈ kōnˈdā-dōˈkā dā ōlēväˈrās) [key], 1587–1645, Spanish statesman. He was appointed chief minister on the accession (1621) of Philip IV, over whom he had earlier gained influence. Honest and hardworking, he fought corruption at the court, prosecuted the unscrupulous ministers of Philip III, and endeavored to restrict the privileges and landed wealth of the church. He repudiated the pacific foreign policy followed 1598–1618 by the Duke of Lerma and sought to reassert Spanish strength throughout Europe. Spain became involved more widely in the Thirty Years War, resuming the war with the Netherlands (1621), and entered conflicts in Italy. Olivares's aggressive centralizing policy within Spain led to an uprising, supported by France, in Catalonia and to the secession (1640) of Portugal. To obtain funds for his campaigns he resorted to oppressive measures. His unpopularity led to his fall in 1643. Olivares was a patron of the arts and literature and encouraged the painters Rubens, Velázquez, and Murillo and the writers Lope de Vega and Quevedo y Villegas.

See the biography by J. H. Elliott (1987).

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

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

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