as Philip III king of Spain from 1598, as Philip II king of Portugal from 1598
Born in Madrid on 14 April 1578
Died in Madrid on 31 March 1621
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.