Silvia Z. Mitchell
328 pages; 97 colour illustrations; hardcover, 20 x 28 cm
Spanish; translated by I. García Ureta and I. Morán García; originally published in English by Penn State University Press, University Park, 2019; 2023
When Philip IV of Spain died in 1665, his heir, Carlos II, was three years old. In addition to this looming dynastic crisis, decades of enormous military commitments had left Spain a virtually bankrupt state with vulnerable frontiers and a depleted army. In Reina, madre y estadista. Mariana de Austria y el gobierno de España, Queen Regent Mariana of Austria emerges as a towering figure at court and on the international stage, while her key collaborators — the secretaries, ministers, and diplomats who have previously been ignored or undervalued — take their rightful place in history. Mitchell provides a nuanced account of Mariana of Austria’s ten-year regency (1665–75) of the global Spanish Empire and examines her subsequent role as queen mother, refuting the general narrative that she was a weak and manipulable woman, too young to rule.
Drawing from previously unmined primary sources the author offers a new narrative of the Spanish Habsburg monarchy in the later seventeenth century, advancing our knowledge of women’s legitimate political entitlement in the early modern period. Mariana, who inherited a court deeply divided over the Portuguese conflict took on the reins of the Spanish Empire without hesitation and shaped the court to fulfill the needs of her regime. She surrounded herself with trusted figures but never surrendered her power to them. Over the course of her regency, Mariana — presented here as one of the most influential figures in European politics along with Louis XIV, Charles II of England, and Emperor Leopold I among others — led the Monarchy out of danger and helped redefine the military and diplomatic blocs of Europe in Spain’s favor.
Silvia Z. Mitchell, who received her Ph.D. from the University of Miami (Florida), is an associate professor at Purdue University (Indiana) and a member of the CINTER (Court, Image, Nobility, and Territory) research group at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid. Her research focuses on the history of the Spanish Monarchy and the women of the royal House of Habsburg from political, cultural, and dynastic perspectives. She is currently preparing a monograph on the Spanish Habsburgs (1500-1700).