King Of Spain Charles II., son of Philip IV. and Marianna of Austria, born Nov. 6, 1661, died Nov. 1, 1700. Philip, dying when his son was but four years old, left the kingdom under the government of the queen and a council appointed by her. She chose for it men attached to her interests and holding her views, making her confessor, the grand inquisitor Neidhard, one of its leaders, but excluding both from this and all other important offices the second Don John of Austria, illegitimate son of Philip IV. Don John, whose military services had been of the greatest value to the Spanish throne, resented this neglect; and, assisted by the people, with whom his cause was popular, he marched with the army under his command against Madrid. The queen was compelled to dismiss Neidhard, to appoint John to the vice-royalty of Aragon, and to consent to several important concessions. In 1672 war with France added its evils to these internal disturbances; in 1674 Sicily was lost; and the Spanish kingdom was now brought by misgovern-ment to the worst condition it had known for many years. This moment Charles seized to make himself independent of the restraints of the regency; and in 1675, when barely 14 years of age, he assumed the control of affairs.
Two years later he obliged his mother to retire to a convent, and made Don John his chief councillor. So long as the latter lived a great improvement was perceptible, and the affairs of the kingdom were skilfully conducted. In 1078 the treaty of Nimeguen was concluded with France; and although its terms were extremely hard, requiring the cession of Franche-Comte and several important towns in the Netherlands, it was only through the ability of Don John that Spain secured peace even on such conditions. On the conclusion of this treaty Charles received in marriage the niece of Louis XIV., Louisa, daughter of the duke of Orleans.
But Don John had barely brought the affairs of the kingdom into a tolerable condition when his death, Sept. 17, 1679, left them to fall into a worse state than before. Charles gave himself up to every kind of frivolity, paid little attention to the interests of the state, and allowed the conduct of the govern-ment to pass into the hands of unworthy favorites; his mother, returning from her retirement, regained much of her authority, and used it without scruple. In 1089 Queen Louisa, the only one who had exerted a good influence over the king, died; and the only strong opposing element in the king's conduct being thus taken away, he was left to advisers in the interests of Austria, who for the next few years ruled in such a way as to make Spain little more than a dependency of that empire. In 1690 Charles married Anna, widow of the elector palatine, and sister of the emperor of Germany: and thus became more than ever devoted to the party in European politics of which his council were already the allies.
Even before the death of Louisa he had joined a coalition against Louis XIV., whose armies were threatening the Netherlands. Put instead of his driving back the French in the north, they invaded his kingdom in 1004, and penetrated to Barcelona before the peace of Ryswick put an end to the war (1697). Charles, though twice married, was still without children; and, obliged to abandon the hope of direct descendants, he began to devote himself to the question of the succession to the Spanish throne. The complicated intrigues having their motive in the desire to gain this for one or another of the claimants (see Charles VI., Germany) occupied the last five years of his life, and ended, so far as he was concerned, in his making his will in favor of Philip of Anjou, who succeeded him under the title of Philip V.