Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


History (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Guido Ruggiero

Second Committee Member

Mary Lindemann

Third Committee Member

Anne J. Cruz

Fourth Committee Member

Noble David Cook

Fifth Committee Member

Hugh Thomas


Philip IV’s death on September 17, 1665 inaugurated the sole royal minority of Habsburg Spain, an event that provoked tremendous anxiety in Europe due to the extent of the Spanish Empire and the potential consequences of a contested succession had the child-king, Carlos II, died without an heir. This dissertation analyzes the historical influence of Queen Mariana of Austria (1634-1696), who ruled Spain at this difficult juncture and emphasizes the significance of the period for the overall history of Imperial Spain. It investigates the office of regent, a female political office par excellence, within the context of the Spanish Habsburg court and interprets her political intervention within the multiple Spanish traditions that sanctioned female authority. Besides analyzing the structures that gave Mariana authority, this study is equally concerned with policy matters and the significance of her actions in broader international contexts. This revisionist history of Carlos II’s minority contributes to a recent scholarly body of work that has challenged the paradigm of Spanish decline. Based on state, court, and private papers, I contend that Mariana of Austria ushered in a period of innovation and change in the realms of foreign policy, the practice of kingship, and the political culture of the Spanish Habsburg court. All of these are essential to understanding the Spain of Carlos II and European international politics during the second half of the seventeenth century.


Mariana of Austria (1634-1696); Women in politics; Queens and queenship; Spain-- Politics and Government, 1665-1700; Court and courtiers; Kings and rulers; Monarchy; European diplomacy, 1648-1700