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claimed in the Netherlands, the people expressed an expectation that he would resemble his famous ancestor the emperor Charles V. Unfortunately, however, the queen mother was equally fond of power, and unable to
propriety; and her misconduct incapacitated the prince, upon future occasions, from making the needful reformations in his distracted kingdom.
Having prevailed on her dying consort to exclude Don Juan from the administration, this princess introduced into the council of regency father Nitard, her confessor, a man of very moderate capacity, and almost totally unacquainted with the state of public affairs, By the advice of this person, she made a solemn acknowledgment of the independence of Portugal, and concluded a dishonourable peace with Louis XIV. The states were much displeased at these proceedings, and unanimously entreated the regent to employ Don Juan, as the only man whom they conceived capable of restoring the credit and sustaining the weight of the government: but, as she was unwilling to adopt a measure which might prejudice her ecclesiastical favorite, she proposed to Don Juan the government of the Low Countries, which he readily accepted. When about to embark for the place of his destination, the prince was informed that his secretary, Don Joseph de Malladas, had been put to death by a warrant from the regent. Hereupon he returned to one of his estates, and formed so powerful a party that, after a few remonstrances, father Nitard thought it advisable to retire into Italy, where he obtained a cardinal's hat; whilst his. chagrined mistress was obliged to declare Don Juan lieutenant-general
of Arragon, in order to remove him from the cabinet.
Meanwhile Charles II. grew up, and 1675.
the period arrived for declaring him of
age. A few days after the ceremony, his mother required him to sign an act by which he was to acknowledge that, on account of his tender age and inexperience, he still needed the assistance of the queen and her council of regency: but he refused to put his name to it, and said with a determined air, “ I hope God, who hath made me a king, will enable me to discharge the duties of my high station, and to become the father of my people." His mother was confounded at this unexpected answer, and to prevent the consequences of it, she is said to have mixed some drugs with his chocolate, which debilitated both his mind and body. Certain it is that, in the course of a few weeks, he lost his wonted spirits, and his future imbecility proved highly detrimental to the interests of his kingdom.
Father Nitard was succeeded, in the queen's council, by Don Hernando de Valenzuela, a young man of great bravery and generosity, but destitute of those qualities which are indispensably necessary for governing. He adhered with strict fidelity to his benefactress; caused the king to be continually surrounded with his creatures; and made some exertions for acquiring the esteem of the populace: but he had no idea of restoring the reputation of the sinking state; and his vanity gave a colour to the popular clamour which was quickly raised Meanwhile Don Juan, who governed Arragon
with an authority superior to that of its ancient monarchs, derived augmenting respectability from his own judicious conduct. Simple in dress and modest in deportment, he added to the Spanish regularity that spirit which at first gave it revererice, and made the public welfare the first object of his administration. His strict adherence to the Arragonian constitution, and the impartiality of his conduct upon all occasions, were mentioned with rapture at Madrid; and many of the Castilian nobles resolved to use their utmost exertions to place him at the head of government. Accordingly an association was formed for this purpose, and Charles readily consented to a personal interview with Don Juan, in which he learned the true state of his dominions, and the methods by which his groaning subjects might be relieved. In consequence of this interview, the queen mother was removed to Toledo; Valenzuela was de, graded, and sent to the Philippines; and Don Juan was honoured, both by plebcians and patricians, as the friend and protector of his coun. try. Shortly after this occurrence, a fruitless and protracted war was terminated between the courts of France and Spain by the treaty of Nimeguen.
The queen, during her administration, had negociated a treaty of marriage between her son and Maria Antonietta, the daughter of the emperor; but Don Juan concluded another with Maria Louisa, daughter of the duke of Orleans. This marriage scems to have been equally satisfactory to the king and the Spanish nobles: yet it was, afterwards, improved into the cause of Don Juan's disgrace; and that
prince was so deeply affected by the base ca. lumnies of his enemies, that he fell ill, and died of a broken heart. He had no sooner expired, than the eyes of the populace were opened to the fallacy of their own prejudices; even his most implacable enemies were convinced of his disinterestedness; and the whole nation. acknowledged that in him the virtues of the Spanish house of Austria had made its last effort. The king, however, was so far from regretting his loss, that he went immediately to Toledo, and brought back the queen mother, as if to triumph over the ashes of a man whose zeal for his country had proved inimical to her ambition. A. D.
Charles, by a strange indecorum,
consummated his marriage in one of 1680.
the poorest villages of Old Castile, whence he conducted the new queen to Burgos, and, afterward, made a pompous entry into Madrid. The affairs of the Spanish court were, at this time, in the greatest perplexity imaginable; for the king was unable to fix.upon a minister; the young queen was disgusted with an etiquette so dissonant to her education, the French ambassador delivered his master's haughty messages in a manner which rendered them still more distasteful; and Louis XIV. as if anxious to insult his catholic majesty's circumstances, insisted upon several humiliating concessions to the name and power of France.
After mature deliberation, the duke de Medina Cæli was placed at the head of administration: but his talents proved unequal to his undertaking ; and the nation was involved in complete confusion. Unable to redress so many
evils, and confounded at the entire deficiency of funds, he reduced the copper coin from its nominal to its real value, by which absurd measure moncy was rendered still more scarce and provisions much dearer. The copper was then called in, and his majesty promised to pay its value in six months; but, as his inability was universally known, this only served to increase the public discontent. In this alarming exigence, many of the grandees were obliged to sell or coin their plate; the king's domestics left the palace for want of subsistence; the navy was alníost annihilated; the soldiers on the frontiers deserted for want of pay; and even the governors of fortresses quitted their respective charges to represent in person, what they had already represented by letter without effeci. Spain was now become truly despicable in the sight of her allies, and her enemies triumphed in her accumulated misfortunes.' France made encroachments in Biscay, Rouillon, and the Low Countries; the elector of Brandenburgh seized on a Spanish galleon for the payment of some subsidies that were due to him; and the prince regent of Portugal compelled the unfortunate ministry to relinquish the island of Buenos Ayres, which had been in the possession of their nation for upwards of one hundred and forty years. The death of the queen of France, his catholic 'majesty's sister, was an additional misfortune to the court of Madrid ; and the violence committed by Louis XIV. contrary to the peace of Nimeguen, roused the populace to madness, and overwhelmed the ministry with consternation. At this distressing conjuncture, the duke de. Vol. XY,