The reign of Philip V of Spain (1700–46) remains one of the most neglected in the history of that country, and in terms of its significance for the rest of Europe. Philip is widely regarded, on the one hand, as little more than the instrument of his wives – above all, Isabel Farnese – and, on the other hand, as a major innovator in Spain. This article seeks to show that Philip’s revanchist aspirations in Italy – and in Africa – after the losses incurred during the War of the Spanish Succession, and which ensured that Spain represented the single greatest threat to peace in Europe between the end of that conflict and the conclusion of the War of the Austrian Succession, were not simply imposed by his spouse. It also suggests that Philip’s ambitions were backward looking, and that in seeking to reconstitute his Habsburg inheritance, Philip drew on traditional institutions, practices and values at least as much as he innovated.
- Philip V