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  • 1. Philip II of Spain 1527-1598 Richard Fitzsimmons Strathallan School
  • 2. Overview …
    • Philip II of Spain has had a chequered reputation among historians, many of them polarised over his character, his policies and his legacy
    • For some, Philip’s reign was a ‘golden age’, and he was Spain’s greatest monarch
    • For others, Philip personified everything that was most sinister about Counter-Reformation Catholicism
    • But, it is not only the man who invites controversy – the rest of this course concentrates on the policies he pursued and the consequences of his actions – equally controversial and the subject of historical debate
  • 3. Philip’s early life
    • Born in 1527, brought up in a large household of 191 – rarely alone – raised strictly by his mother (Isabel of Portugal) until her death in 1539 – father, Charles V rarely there (away 1529-33, 1535-6, 1539-41, 1543-57)
    • From 1535 he had his own household under his ‘governor’, Don Juan de Zuniga
    • A sickly child –very ill in 1535 with gastric problems – dogged him for the rest of his life – became obsessed with his health
    • Brought up a very devout Roman Catholic – legacy of his mother -to play an important role in later life – sometimes he confused what was for God’s cause with his own … partic. in foreign policy
    • Given a sense of duty and responsibility as Charles’ heir – dynastic concerns – attended Council meetings from age 12 – Regent of Spain at 16
  • 4. Philip’s upbringing … 1
    • Educated by tutor Juan Martinez de Siliceo – governor Juan de Zuniga – skilful at hiding his feelings
    • Primarily a Spanish emphasis in his learning – maths, architecture, geography, history, classical langs, but no contemporary langs – lack of skill in foreign langs plagued him throughout his reign.
  • 5. Philip’s upbringing … 2
    • He preferred hunting to study.
    • At age 14, given his own secretary – Gonzalo Perez
    • 1542 – made his first ‘progress’ – travelling round Castile and Aragon
    • 1543 – Charles left for Germany, leaving Philip behind as Regent, aided by a group of highly experienced men including the Duke of Alva, Cardinal Juan de Tavera and Francisco de Los Cobos
    • 1543 - Philip married Maria of Portugal (she died in July 1545 in childbirth)
  • 6. Philip’s character …
    • Assessments of Philip’s character have often been influenced by historians’ own prejudices
      • J. L. Motley – ‘grossly licentious, cruel … a consummate tyrant’
      • Henry Kamen – ‘Philip was by temperament tranquil, subdued and always in control of himself … as a person he was more gentle. He disliked war and violence…’
    • They have concentrated on alleged character defects - cruelty, ambition, war-mongering, his religious obsession, his indecision etc, and rarely have achieved a balanced summary
  • 7. Philip’s character … ‘zero-defects mentality’ or procrastinator?
    • One area that has been most raked over has been Philip’s seeming inability to make decisions, particularly in foreign policy.
    • Geoffrey Parker advances one potential explanation for this – what he calls Philip’s ‘Zero-defects mentality’
        • i.e. an obsessive drive not to make mistakes, and a fear of failure – may help explain why he had an almost pathological desire to control decisions
        • wanted to prove himself worthy of his father Charles V, and to avoid the disgrace of failure
        • this could lead to periods of deep depression e.g. over the Netherlands in 1574-5, and Armada 1588.
  • 8. Philip’s character …
    • How far did he depend slavishly on the advice of his father ?
        • He tended to withhold information from his ministers – led to confusion and perhaps competing advice
        • Not good at delegation – tended to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of government business
        • BUT, did work very long hours conscientiously, sometimes at the expense of his own health
  • 9. Philip’s inheritance …
    • Philip was King of Spain, but also separately King of Aragon and Castile
    • Duke of Milan
    • King of Naples and Sicily
    • Ruler of Sardinia
    • Ruler of Franche-comte
    • Netherlands – multiple titles depending on each province (17)
    • Philip’s dominions were huge and, essentially, ungovernable as a unitary state.
  • 10.  
  • 11. Philip’s inheritance … problems
    • Philip’s dominions were huge and, essentially, ungovernable as a unitary state.
    • He had different titles in each state, and consequently different powers
    • He had to deal with a number of representative assemblies – Cortes in Castile and Aragon, States-General in the Netherlands
    • Each territory guarded its ‘privileges’ jealously – made collection of taxation and use of military force difficult in his many wars
    • The size of his empire, and the distances involved, made direct governance basically impossible and communication was extremely slow
  • 12.  
  • 13. Charles V’s legacy …
    • Charles gave Philip four sets of instructions, advising him in the art of government
      • Nov 1539
      • May 1543
      • Jan 1548
      • 1556
    • Of these, the 1543 instructions were probably the most important and certainly the most comprehensive
        • Laid down precise rules for government
        • Gave advice on anticipated problems
        • He discussed in detail the strengths/weaknesses of individual councillors
        • He urged Philip to avoid being identified with, or reliant on, any particular faction at court, or any individual
  • 14. State of the Empire, 1556 …
    • In 1556 Charles V left an on-going war with Valois France under Henry II – not going well on the Netherlands border
    • War in the Mediterranean against the Turks – in uneasy abeyance in 1550s
    • An imperial treasury strained by almost 40 years of continuous warfare – bankruptcy was declared in 1557 (national debt 25.5 million ducats – annual income 3 million)
    • Military forces stretched throughout the Empire
  • 15. Further reading …
    • J. Casey, ‘Philip II of Spain, the prudent King’ Teaching History 1997
    • H. Kamen, Spain 1469-1714: A Society of Conflict .
    • H. Kamen, Philip II of Spai n.
    • J. Kilsby, Spain: Rise and Decline, 1474 - 164 3.
    • P. Limm, The Dutch Revol t.
    • A. W. Lovett, Early Habsburg Spain, 1517-1598 .
    • J. Lynch, Spain 1516 - 98; From Nation State to World Empire.
    • M. Mallett, The Struggle for the Mediterranean in the 16th Centur y. Warwick History Videos,
    • D. McKinnon-Bell, Philip II.
    • D. McKinnon-Bell, ‘Philip II: the champion of Catholicism.’ History Review
    • N. G. Parker, The Dutch Revolt .
    • N. G. Parker, ‘Philip II of Spain – a reappraisal.’ History Today 1979
    • N. G. Parker, The Grand Strategy of Philip II .
    • M. Rady, The Netherlands: Revolt and Independence, 1550 - 165 0.