Of an indolent and melancholy disposition, Philip was dominated by women. At first the princesse des Ursins, lady in waiting to Philip's first consort, Maria Luisa of Savoy, dominated his court. In 1714, Philip married Elizabeth Farnese, who took complete control of her husband's policies and who was in turn dominated by the chief minister, Cardinal Alberoni. The attempt by the queen and Alberoni to reconquer the former Spanish territories in Italy led to the formation of the Quadruple Alliance of 1718, to which Spain had to submit in 1720. In 1724, Philip abdicated the throne of Spain to his eldest son, Louis, but resumed it later that year after Louis died of smallpox.
Spain's foreign policy continued to be governed to a large extent by dynastic ambition and became successful so far as the house of Bourbon was concerned. In the War of the Polish Succession (1733–35) Naples and Sicily passed to Don Carlos (later Charles III of Spain), son of Philip and Elizabeth; in the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–48) Parma and Piacenza passed to Charles's younger brother Philip. Spain's entry into the War of the Austrian Succession was preceded (1739) by the outbreak of the War of Jenkins's Ear with Great Britain. In 1733 the first Franco-Spanish Family Compact was concluded. Under Philip, Spain began to recover from the economic stagnation of the 17th cent., especially after the rise (1743) of the reforming minister Ensenada. Philip was succeeded by Ferdinand VI, his son by Maria Luisa.
See biography by H. Kamen (2001).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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