The reign of Philip V takes a long period in the history of Spain. Philip V ascended the throne and remained until his death, becoming the first of the Bourbon dynasty on the Spanish throne. It was a time of endless conflicts and power struggles.


Spain was no longer the leading country in Europe and the world, but its possessions were of value to other European powers. In 1700, the death of Charles II of the Habsburg clan who did not leave heritors led to the thirteen-year war for the Spanish inheritance. The Bourbons were recognized as the owners of the Spanish crown, but at the same time, they lost several lands.

Philip V was born in France, in Versailles in 1683. The transfer of the Spanish crown to the sixteen-year-old French Bourbon put the European state system in an awkward position. Europe did not want to see the monarch of French descent on the Spanish throne. In February 1701, Philip entered Madrid, where people greeted him. At the first time of his reign, Philip tried to establish relations with the Habsburgs and achieve the favor of the aristocracy.

In February 1701, the Paris Parliament reaffirmed Philippe’s claim to the French crown. Later, Louis XIV sent an army to the Spanish Netherlands, where he captured local garrisons and occupied all the fortresses.

The French also received permission to trade in the Spanish colonies, including a monopoly on the African slaves’ supply. The infringement of the economic interests of maritime powers, as well as the unwillingness to see the representative of France on the Spanish throne, led to the creation of an anti-French coalition.

The war began in the summer of 1701 and military operations were concentrated on the territory of Italy and southeastern France. The result of the Spanish Succession War, which lasted thirteen years, was the division of the Spanish Empire.

France ceased to dominate Europe, losing ground; Great Britain at the same time strengthened naval power and acquired several colonies. The Habsburgs became the leading force in Central and Southern Europe, and Prussia – in Northern Germany. Thus, Philip V established his positions on the Spanish throne.

After the end of the Spanish Succession War, the era of peace and calm did not come. On the contrary, Philip V continued a rather aggressive foreign policy, which caused endless conflicts. The Spanish king, despite the peace agreement concluded in Utrecht, did not abandon attempts to reassert his power in Italy and restore his former position to his country.

This fact did not please other European powers which feared the strengthening of Spain. Another critical aspect of Philip’s foreign policy was competition with Britain, both in trade and in the military. There was a long confrontation in overseas possessions and the western Mediterranean.

In 1739, the rivalry between England and Spain intensified due to the trade with colonies. At the time of the death of Philip V, the Spanish Empire was not able to regain the former status of a powerful European state. Nevertheless, Spain could already take an active part in European affairs as an independent entity.

Philip became the first Bourbon to receive the Spanish crown, but during the long war for the Spanish inheritance, he had to defend this right. Philip proved himself a successful reformer and administrator, transforming Spain into a French model. He managed to centralize the country and cut back on the excessive independence of the provinces. Spain was no longer a dominant power, as it was in the past, but owing to Philip, it was able to play an independent role in European affairs.