Philip V of Spain


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Henry Kamen

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Philip V, who reluctantly assumed the Spanish throne in 1700, was the first of the Bourbon dynasty which continues to reign today. Philip’s forty-six-year reign, briefly curtailed in 1724 when he abdicated in favor of his short-lived son, Louis I, was one of the most important in the country’s history. This highly readable account is the first biography of Philip V in English.

Previous writing on Philip has been largely negative, dismissing him as comic, stupid, and indolent. Henry Kamen demonstrates here, however, that the king initiated significant developments in politics, imperial policy, finance, government, and the army that laid the basis of the modern Spanish state. Philip also encouraged literature, the creative arts, and music in ways that brought Spanish culture closer in touch with Europe, and he dealt authoritatively with issues concerning the autonomy of the provinces of Spain and the role of the monarchy itself. Drawing on both contemporary sources and fresh archival sources, Kamen discusses Philip’s character, decisions, and policies. Kamen’s account of Philip as king provides an essential introduction to the study of early eighteenth-century Spain and the Bourbon monarchy.

Henry Kamen is professor of the Higher Council for Scientific Research in Barcelona. He is the author of many books on European and Spanish history, including Philip of Spain, The Spanish Inquisition, and The Phoenix and the Flame, all published by Yale University Press.

“This is . . . a well-written overview of a complex character, and it stands as the only modern biography of King Philip V in English.”—Kenneth J. Andrien, Historian

“The heart of Philip V of Spain is the story of one of the most idiosyncratic of European monarchs, who Kamen argues has been vastly misunderstood. . . . Kamen makes a pretty convincing case. . . . [G]ood royal biography.”—Richard Herr, New York Times Book Review

“This fascinating biography provides both a new appreciation of the royal couple and a convenient and readable introduction to early-18th-century Spain and its place in European diplomacy and war. Based on a wide array of archival and printed primary materials and relevant secondary literature, this book should be in every college, university, and major public library.”—Choice

“This is a good book. . . . Kamen’s Philip V is easy to read, clearly organized, and a must read for anyone concerned with eighteenth-century European history.”—Ciro Paoletti, The Journal of Military History

“Kamen’s superb research and adherence to documentary sources, once again provides us with a solid and fascinating biography of an oft-forgotten ruler.”—Virginia Quarterly Review

“This book provides the best English account of the life of a troubled king who ruled—or attempted to rule—Spain for nearly half a century.”—James M. Boyden, Renaissance Quarterly

Selected as a 2001 Outstanding Academic Title by Choice Magazine
ISBN: 9780300180541
Publication Date: June 1, 2001
288 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
10 b/w illus.
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