Philip V of Spain was born on 19 December 1683 at the Royal Palace of Madrid, to King Charles II and his second wife Maria Anna of Neuburg. He was the first Spanish monarch born in Spain in over half a century as all previous rulers had been overseas-born rulers from Austria. Philip had a difficult early life due to his father’s mental health issues and he eventually became king upon Charles’ death in 1700.
At the start of his reign, Philip faced significant opposition from various European powers, particularly Britain, France and Portugal; all three sought to control the Spanish throne by installing their own candidate as king. In order to prevent this happening, Philip married Elisabeth Farnese in 1714 – daughter of an Italian prince – in an attempt to strengthen his own claim.
Philip was largely a successful ruler, being known as the ‘Rey Planeta’ – world king – due to Spain’s position at this time as one of the most powerful nations in Europe. He created numerous reforms including introducing free trade, modernizing taxation and achieving greater efficiency in the collection of taxes and contributions from the Spanish colonies.
His reign however, was also marred by tragedy; during his reign he saw five of his children die young and Elisabeth eventually died after suffering chronic health issues for many years. Philip himself died on 9 July 1746 aged 63, succeeded by his son Louis I.
Overall Philip V made great strides to modernize Spain and is remembered as an effective and successful monarch within the country’s history. His reign saw both great success, but also personal tragedy for Philip himself. Yet his legacy lives on today in the cultural and political influence of Spain to this day.
The life of Philip V was one filled with highs and lows, from his difficult childhood to his eventual successes as ruler. Ultimately he left behind a strong legacy for the Spanish throne that continues to be felt centuries later.