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How Spain’s King Felipe VI compares to the other Felipes

The day after Spain's champions abdicated on the soccer field, the country hailed the ascension of a new monarch. King Felipe VI takes the throne at an awkward moment: His father, Juan Carlos, chose to abdicate in a cloud of controversy -- allegations of royal corruption dovetailing with the country's wrenching economic woes. There was no lavish coronation, only a proclamation followed by the newly crowned king promising to be a monarch "for new times."

The 46-year-old king is respected, but not wildly charismatic; he'll lean on the popularity of the new Queen Letizia, a commoner who also is a former divorcee and who will have to burnish her image in her new role. But if the Spanish monarchy hopes to trade on its newfound, modern image, it still carries with it a long, anachronistic legacy. Here's a look at the five other Felipes who preceded Spain's newly crowned monarch. (Note: Their names have been written Philip, the usual style in English language histories of Spain.)

King Philip I of Castile
His reign:
It was very short, lasting just one month before his death in 1506. But the Austrian scion's marriage into the Castilian royal family would pave the way for almost two centuries of Habsburg rule in Spain.
His reputation: Philip was known for his good looks and dubbed Philip "the Fair" or Handsome.
His spouse: Philip, a scion of the famous Habsburg dynasty, had married Joan, the daughter of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabel I of Castile, the royal couple that had launched Christopher Columbus on his expedition to the New World and also subjugated Spain's last Muslim kingdoms. Joan, sadly, has been remembered through history as Joan "the Mad," who became progressively more unhinged the more her husband pursued other consorts. Her mental imbalances saw her kept in forced seclusion -- a state of affairs some historians say was politically expedient for the power-hungry Philip.

King Philip II
His reign: Philip II ruled so long (from 1554 to 1598) that his name defined an epoch. By the end of his reign, Spain was at the height of its empire, with territories across Europe and the Americas. The Philippines, a whole Asian archipelago visited by Spanish galleons, took his name. In the English speaking world, he'll always be the monarch who dispatched the ill-fated Spanish Armada to conquer Britain.
His spouse: He had four: first, a Portuguese cousin; then an English princess; then the daughter of the French king; and finally the daughter of his Austrian first cousin, another potentate. He survived all four wives.
His reputation: "His smile and his dagger were very close," wrote his official court historian.

King Philip III
His reign: Like his father (Philip II), Philip III was a lavish spender who did disastrous things to the Spanish economy, including the 1609 expulsion of the Moriscos -- the descendants of Muslims who had converted to Christianity. He entered Spain into the brutal Thirty Years' War.
His spouse: Margaret of Austria, a cousin.
His reputation: He was apparently rather pious; one historian referred to him as a "pallid, anonymous creature," a cipher for advisers and schemers at the court.

King Philip IV
His reign: 
From 1621 to his death in 1640, Philip IV presided over a bloody continental conflict between loose alliances of Catholic and Protestant kingdoms. There was hideous loss of life: a quarter of all Germans, according to some historians, perished.
His spouses: Isabel, a daughter of French king Henry IV; after her death, he married Marianna, a daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor.
His reputation: Philip IV was a famous patron of the arts, including the painter Velazquez, and was also known to be dependent on the counsel of a mystic nun.

King Philip V
His reign: Spanning much of the first half of the 18th century (he briefly abdicated for his son in 1724 before returning to the throne the same year after said son died of illness), Philip V's reign was the longest of any Spanish monarch. He was the first Spanish Bourbon king, a dynasty whose lineage extends to the present King Felipe VI.
His spouses: He had two -- first, Maria Luisa of Savoy, who was 13 when she married Philip, and who died 13 years later of tuberculosis. The next wife, the Italian Isabel of Parma, would play an outsized role in the latter years of Philip V's reign as he slipped into dementia.
His reputation: Historians suspect Philip V was bipolar -- accounts indicate he suffered routinely from melancholia and "black humors," which spurred his initial abdication. It isn't always easy being the king.

Ishaan Tharoor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. He previously was a senior editor at TIME, based first in Hong Kong and later in New York.



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