Philip II Of Spain

Phillip II of Spain


King Phillip II of Spain had a major role in English history. He had parts of Holland, Austria, and other parts of the “Low Countries”.

He was born at Valladolid in Spain on May 21, 1527 (he was son of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and Isabella of Portugal) and died on September 13, 1598. He became king in 1556. He governed Spain during the Golden age of Spain. His reign brought economic decline of Spain, bringing bankruptcy and a disastrous decade for Spain. He even caused disaster for the Spanish Armada, introduced Spanish inquisition to the New World (killing heretics, aka Native Americans, in South America) and exterminated Protestants in Spain.

He considered himself a traditional Spanish man, loving music, art, and reading. He was also a deeply catholic man. He really was a ruthless and ambitious character.

He got married four times, first to his COUSIN Maria Manuela of Portugal, 9 years after she died he married Mary Tudor of England when this one died, amazingly, he tried to make her sister marry him. When this plan obviously failed, he married Elizabeth of Valois of France, and last but not least Anne of Austria.

-Gaby H.(:

Elements that characterized Philip II’s government (Achievements and Failures)


  • Philip sought to watch over the religious unity of Spain. He defended Catholicism by suppressing protestant churches in Spain and the Spanish Low Countries, he even held an inquisition and exiled christianized muslims.
  • Philip II was not able to stop the rebellion in the Netherlands nor to stop protestantism there.
  • Philip II conquered Portugal in 1580. Like that Uniting the Iberian Peninsula.
  • During Philip’s reign Spain joined the Holy League, an alliance of maritime Catholic states. The league defeated the Ottoman Turks at Lepanto in October 1571, ending Turkish dominion over the Mediterranean.
  • Philip was not able to stop the English defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, which prevented Spain from conquering England.
  • He began settlements in the Philippines and established the Pacific trade route between America and Asia.
  • He increased the importation of precious metals form the Americas which consolidated Spain's overseas empire.
  • Philip II continued the policies of heavy taxation to support his military campaigns. He also excluded the nobility from administration.

Spain Under Phillip II

Under Philip II, Spain became the richest nation on earth, and ruled the world from the Escorial. But Spain had been in trouble ever since he sent his Invincible Armada against the English in 1588. The bid to punish England for its support of Dutch Protestants fighting against Spanish rule, and for stealing Spanish possessions in Mexico and South America, came badly unstuck. Although they lost, its prestige had been seriously damaged and its naval supremacy lost.

How did Phillip Used the Divine Right

Phillip II, as head of the government of Spain, believed in the divine right of monarchs and used this to justify a number of immoral and illegal acts, such as ordering murders. Phillip developed a system of regional self-government with rulers answering to him and he ruled as an absolute monarchy.

Phillip II was Chief Minister and he appointed Secretaries of State to assist him. The first was Gonzalo Perez who died in 1566. He was replaced by his son Antonio Perez who was hard working and ambitious. Perez allied himself with the Prince of Eboli, Phillip’s favorite. Eboli believed that the government should consist of autonomous states with their own customs, laws and privileges. This solution was opposed by the Dukes of Alva who wanted Phillip to adopt a hard line approach to bring states under the close control of the Crown. Philip favored the Alva approach and sent AIva to the Netherlands to put down the revolt there.

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