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The Influence of the Valido

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The influence that the validos had over their respective kings was the source of their power. This power allowed them to have almost unquestioned authority in all aspects of court life. The source of the ligitimacy of this power comes from the idea that the king was in some ways divine and had the blessing of God, thus any venture or idea that the king undertook was also blessed by God including the tradition of having a valido and the roles he performed. The valido was in charge of the appointment of servants to the king and queen and used this authority to put into place members of their family or placed servants selected my political allies in exchange for favors. 1 By being allowed to appoint all the people that work around the king the validos had a great deal of power over the day to day lives of the king and queen. In Antonio Feros’ analysis the found that, “Like other favorites before him, Lerma had recourse to more than one route to participation in the decision-making process. Institutionally, as counselor of state, Lerma held unquestionable rights to advise the king on a regular basis. The records of the Council of State indicate that he regularly attended its meetings, especially when the council discussed matters he and Philip III considered particularly important, such as Spain’s relationship with other monarchies and internal problems that could affect the safety of the monarchy.” 2 There is an enormous amount of power that the validos had in being able to accompany the king everywhere. It allowed them to control the activities of the king throughout the day and to see and hear any information that the king was privy to. Using this, the validos were able to more effectively exchange favors with other members of the court and to increase their power and influence in the court and in the country as a whole. While on the surface this appears to only serve to bolster the power of the validos it also had the effect of increasing¬† the effectiveness of the king and the management of the country. The better managed the country is the better the country looks in the eyes of foreign powers and there would be a greater chance for opportunities to arise for Spain. A letter between Ruy Gomez de Silva, the valido of Philip II, and Francisco de Eraso shows and example of the power that Ruy

Ruy Gomez de Silva (Provenance unknown)

Gomez had in the court due to his closeness with the king, “His Highness has seen your letters and was very glad to hear the news you sent me in them. By the way, I showed him [one letter in particular]…in order to be able to speak about you ans see how he feels about you. I do not think the lacks desire to show you favor and keep you in your honorable position. Do not fail to make up your mind as to what you want, and I will see what can be done for you.” 3 Through hi closeness with the king Ruy Gomez is able to influence which letters and documents the king sees to an extent and that affords him a great deal of power when making deals and favors for others. The last line in particular is a testament to the validos’ power because his contact with the king allows him to cast a good light on those whom he deems favorable to deal with to help himself and the king.

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  1. Antonio Feros, Kingship and Favoritism in the Spain of Philip III, 1598-1621 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 99.
  2. Antonio Feros, Kingship and Favoritism in the Spain of Philip III, 1598-1621 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 110-111.
  3. James M. Boyden, The Courtier and the King: Ruy Gómez De Silva, Philip II, and the Court of Spain (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 51.

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