Tuesday 14 January 2014

The Abdication of Philip V

A small Spanish something today; a story of abdication told to me by a rather charming gentleman of Madrid who occasionally visits my salon, always clad in the finest silks. There is a little throne-hopping, an untimely death and a troublesome treaty, all the ingredients of a royal drama.

Philip V of Spain by Jean Ranc, 1723
Philip V of Spain by Jean Ranc, 1723

On 14 January 1724, Philip V of Spain made a momentous decision when, without any prior clues as to his intention, he abdicated the throne. The crown of Spain passed to his 17 year old son, Louis.

Philip gave no reasons for his abdication but throughout his life had suffered from deep melancholia and episodes of depression. It may be that he was concerned at the mental problems he was experiencing and therefore decided to give up the throne rather than continue with the burden of rule. A second theory is that Philip was motivated by the tribulations of the French royal family, and saw a potential opportunity for expansion.

Louis I of Spain by Jean Ranc, 1724
Louis I of Spain by Jean Ranc, 1724

The recent death of the regent Duke of Orléans had left the French throne with something of a headache, as Louis XV was still too young to rule. Philip himself believed that he might lay claim to the crown of France as a descendant of Louis XIV but could not do so whilst still ruling Spain, as the Treaty of Utrecht forbade a union between the two crowns. By abdicating the Spanish throne, Philip may have hoped that he could find a loophole in the treaty and become the next king of France.

Fate was to play a final twist on the Spanish king though as the newly enthroned Louis fell victim to smallpox on 31st August 1724, and Philip found himself once more sitting on the throne of Spain.

Life in the Georgian Court, true tales of 18th century royalty, is available at the links below.

Pen and Sword
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Book Depository (free worldwide shipping)

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