During his reign Spain was still one of the dominant powers in Europe, a position maintained only through enormous levels of national debt. The king, notorious as a difficult character, mainly left the affairs of state to his favourite, the Duke of Lerma, who to a certain extent ruled in his name. Lerma is often called ‘Spain’s greatest thief’. The king’s passions were hunting and riding. Under his reign, Spain favoured a policy of peace in the Netherlands, as also with France and England.