22.07.

Count-Duke of Olivares – the most powerful statesman of the Spanish Empire – 1645

Count-Duke of Olivares – the most powerful statesman of the Spanish Empire – 1645

The Count-Duke of Olivares had the role of general secretary for royal correspondence, which in practice meant that all documents entered and exited through him. He was de facto at the helm of Spain at a time when its colonial empire stretched from the Philippines to Mexico and from Argentina to Belgium (in today’s names of those countries).

On July 22, 1645, one of the most powerful men in the world died in the first half of the 17th century – the famous Count-Duke of Olivares. He was de facto at the helm of Spain at a time when its colonial empire stretched from the Philippines to Mexico and from Argentina to Belgium (in today’s names of those countries). The Count-Duke of Olivares was a favorite of King Philip IV of Spain. and in fact he somehow ruled in his place. At first glance, Olivares’ aristocratic title of Count-Duke (Spanish: El conde-duque) is unusual. Namely, he inherited the title of Count of Olivares by birth, and the king awarded him an even higher title – Duke of Sanlúcar la Mayor. Nevertheless, he asked the king to keep the title of his original county of Olivares, so this was allowed with the specific combined title of Count-Duke of Olivares. Today in Spain it is enough to mention the term count-duke and everyone immediately knows that it is about him (he is so historically known).

The county of Olivares, after which his family bore the title, was named after the town of Olivares in hot Andalusia, not far from Seville. The Count-Duke became the king’s favorite even at the time when Philip IV. was a young man. He was given an extraordinarily important court position called Sumiller de Corps (an untranslatable word, the root of which is the same as the French sommelier). Sumiller de Corps had the privilege of sleeping in the same room as the king at the Spanish court, he poured wine to the king for a meal, etc. Of similar importance in England was the so-called Groom of the Stool (Croatian servant of the toilet) who had the privilege of being alone with the king when he urinated.

The Count-Duke of Olivares had the role of general secretary for royal correspondence, which in practice meant that all documents entered and exited through him. In today’s terms, we would call him prime minister or prime minister, but once in Spain, those terms were not used. In practice, Olivares ruled Spain from 1621 to about 1643, that is, for more than 20 years.

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