This is how he conceived his cultural revolution

This is how he conceived his cultural revolution

On March 31, 1621, as soon as his father, Felipe IV, died, "he began to distribute already signed decrees and dispatches, with the corpse and the doctors still in the room (...) Olivares was firm and severe, he did not waste a moment, He did not even give the young sovereign time to mourn his father 'and told him it was not time to rest, that there was a lot to do and that he should get up'. And in barely two days, those who had played important roles around Felipe III "were expelled from the Court, sometimes with exile, arrest and prison and -time later- executions" (Manuel Rivero Rodríguez, "Olivares. Reform and revolution in Spain").

The one who directed everything since the death of Felipe III was the tutor and tutor of the new king, Baltasar de Zúñiga, whose right-hand man was his nephew Gaspar de Guzmán and Pimentel, Count-Duke of Olivares (Rome, January 6, 1587 – Toro, July 22, 1645). He was 34 years old at the time and was the third son of Enrique de Guzmán. Linked by order of birth to an ecclesiastical career, he had a humanistic education and at the age of 15 he arrived in Salamanca to study canon and civil law, remaining there until 1604, when, after his older brothers died, he was called to the Court by the father of him His apprenticeship as a courtier was brief, as his father died in 1607 and he had to take over the estate.

At that time it seems that his primary objective was to conquer his cousin, Inés de Zúñiga, daughter of the Marquis of Monterrey and lady-in-waiting to the queen, whom he married that same year. The couple settled in Seville, where Baltasar - although, from time to time, he appeared at Court to look after family interests as a member of the prince's house - dedicated himself to taking care of his estate, his poetic and literary hobbies, surrounded by of a circle of intellectuals, and to gather a large library (more than four thousand books between prints and manuscripts) considered by the Jesuit grammarian and polemicist Claudio Clemente as "One of the most excellent, both for the number and for the selection of the best books of all kinds, very worth visiting and whose fame is everywhere”.

Everything changed for the Count Duke in 1619 when his uncle Baltasar de Zúñiga “called him to chapter and, After his return to Madrid, he changed his public and private behavior since the king's illness made the prince's house a decisive strategic knot. (…Both) They organized a secret meeting in the heir's chambers, taking advantage of positions for when the death came” (Rivero). And they were very skilful: Baltasar Zúñiga served until his death (10-7-1622) as Prime Minister of Carlos IV and between them they dismantled the ruling cliques with Felipe III and cemented the support of Olivares.

Olivares fought against corruption, usury, waste and ostentation

Impossible to synthesize the thousand works by Olivares that filled two decades of the Spanish Empire, characterized by an enormous reformist impulse: replacement of the councils by boards that governed the various aspects of the administration; fight against corruption, usury, waste and ostentation; mobilization of the economy by encouraging agriculture, commerce, the textile industry and public works; restoration of monetary credibility by reducing the fleece; backbone of the kingdoms, united not only in the king but also in a united national effortone of whose essential objectives was the Union of Arms, by which the territories of the Hispanic Monarchy would contribute proportionally with men and means to its defense, gathering an army of 140,000 troops, a vital issue in the heat of the Thirty Years' War " an atrocious conflict that we could justly compare in its devastation to the two world wars of the 20th century” (Rivero).

Its success was limited due to the opposition of those affected by the reforms

In these and in many other of the companies started, success was scarce, sometimes due to a lack of continuity, or due to the opposition of those affected by the reforms or deprived of their corrupt mangers, or by those who did not forgive their marginalization from power. , or by those envious of their elevation, or by the opposition of various kingdoms and territories to, for example, the solidarity of recruitment. And more the enmity of the papacy than "He refused to allow the Church to cede to secular power part of its role in directing and controlling the behavior of individualsblocked any attempt to convert the clergymen into simple subjects and broke the presumption of the role of the Crown as a champion of Catholicism”, writes Rivero, pointing out Olivares' great enemy: “Urbano is at the center of the blockade of the most relevant of the Olive groves program.

He had victorious moments -Fleurus, Breda or Nördlingen- but they were fewer than the failures and several were decisive in discrediting Olivares: the separation from Portugal, the long and hard war in Catalonia and the uprisings in Andalusia. On January 23, 1643, the count duke “definitively abandoned his office in the palace never to return. The king had finally granted him the license to leave office, which he had been insistently requesting for some years.

This is how Manuel Rivero narrates the decline of the valid in his book "Olivares, Reform and Revolution in Spain (1622-1643)", written with as much literary gallantry as originality. He continues in his investigation two leading sources: a libel that appeared a month after Olivares's withdrawal, signed by Andrés de Mena, who supervises all the actions of the valid and requests his prosecution, and another, prepared by the valid himself or his supporters, the "Nicandro or antidote against the slanders that Ignorance and envy have spread to tarnish and tarnish the actions of the Count-Duke of Olivares.” Thus, Manuel Rivero, Professor of Modern History at the Autonomous University of Madrid, finds himself as a judge before the accusation and defense of the work of a transcendental politician in the decadence of the Golden Age. An investigation that ends with international failure and the Portuguese secession, but with a success that was as little valued as it was fundamental: "He managed to establish a model to follow, with the creation of a culture of exemplarity, merit, and service, and the foundations for the reconfiguration of the monarchy were laid (...) The new morality prevailed, perhaps for this reason the Spanish Golden Age was mortally wounded because there was no room for frivolity, idleness and laziness”.