he Castilian and surrounding heartland of the Spanish realm was the center of royal power and, as Philip II's giant Escorial palace illustrates, the seat of a devout, vastly wealthy Habsburg monarchy's obsession with the purest Catholic faith, which degenerated in an oppressive Inquisition society. Art, mainly patronized by king and cathedrals, was largely devoted to glorifying the church, even more then the dynasty, in a uniquely ornate, gold-burdened style. As the riches of the American colonies failed to keep financing the expensive religious wars, decline was inevitable, yet Felipe IV still dispensed a fortune he no longer could afford to turn Madrid into an imperial capital, while power fell to ambitious courtiers and art finally turned to real life again, instead of the morbid obsession with martyrdom.

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