Tordesillas, 1553 – Valladolid, 1625
His full name was Francisco Gómez de Sandoval y Rojas.
His family had a noble origin. His parents were Francisco de Sandoval, Marquis of Denia and Isabel de Borja, daughter of the Duke of Gandia.
He was educated at the court of Philip II, where he won the confidence of the heir to the throne, the future Philip III. In 1598, after Philip III became king, he took over the management of the kingdom, starting the tradition of the valido in Spain.
His power got stronger by expelling his enemies from the court and by surrounding himself with people he trusted, such as family members and friends.
In 1599, Philip III granted him the title of Duke of Lerma. This way, he achieved the status of Grandee of Spain.
From 1601 until 1606, he moved the court from Madrid to Valladolid, in order to keep the king away from the influence of his aunt Maria, and to increase his personal assets by profiteering with properties.
He imposed a pacifist policy due to the lack of financial resources, the country was going through, and the weakness of the Spanish army. Peace agreements were signed with England after the death of Elizabeth I, with the Netherlands granting the United Provinces the Twelve Years’ Truce, and the peace signed with France was ratified by arranging the marriages of the children of Philip III with Louis XIII and his sister.
Between 1609 and 1611, he ordered Moors were expelled. They were mostly workers, therefore there was a need of labour and a fall in tax revenue.
His work at court caused an increase in popular discontent. His son, the Duke of Uceda, used that situation to conspire against his father in order to replace him.
In 1618, he proclaimed himself cardinal after he was in decline and close to be indicted. The all-powerful Duke of Lerma died in 1625 when he was retired from public life.