Childhood Philip II was born the 21st May 1527 in Valladolid. He was the son of Charles I of Spain and Isabella of Portugal. He had two sisters, Mary and Joan of Austria. He lived in several castles with his mother until he was seven. In 1534 he started school, and left Spain in 1547. He went to the Netherlands to live with his paternal family.
Reign He started his reign in 1556. Philip ruled over one of the world’s largest empires. He was king of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, Sardinia, and England and Ireland (because of his marriage with Mary I). He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581.
Domestic Policy Philip II faced many restrictions on his power. Spain consisted on a lot of states with their own laws, and their rulers or local assemblies often overruled Philip. He had problems with the Moriscos, and he had to drive them out from Granada. He had problems with taxes, too. People paid a lot of taxes to improve economy in Spain, which was a poor country although its large number of territories. Taxes were enough to pay Spain’s military expenses. He exploited the resources of his empire, mostly from the New World, but his treasury was still bankrupt sometimes. Also overseas adventures were affected by the decrease of silver flow from American mines and trade of Spanish goods, a large increase in prices and a poor harvest. The defeat of the Armada and plagues helped to Spain’s decline. When Philip II died in 1598, Spain had entered into a deep crisis.
Foreign Policy The Turkswere Spain’s main enemy in the sea. They were trying to conquer territories in the Mediterranean, so Spain fought against them. Spain united with Venice and the Papal States and formed the Holy League. They defeated the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto. Spain signed a truce with them, so they started spreading their territories to the east. As the king of Portugal, Sebastian I, died without heirs, Philip sent ministers to convince the Portuguese to crown him king of Portugal. The Portuguese didn’t want him as their king, so he sent an army. The Portuguese army was weak, but Philip let Portugal govern itself to avoid a revolution. This situation benefited Spain as Portugal had a lot of colonies all around the world and a large fleet.
Foreign Policy France and Spain had a lot of wars because they both wanted to conquer territories in Italy. France had pope Paul IV’s help. Wars between Spain and France were often interrupted due to economical problems in both countries. Bankruptcy made Philip think that a truce was needed, so they signed the Peace of Vervins. During all those wars, Spain had became much more weaker than France. As Philip II was married to Mary I, Queen of England, relations between their countries were good. But after Mary’s death, her sister, Elizabeth I, started ruling over England. As she refused to marry Philip and both countries wanted to trade with the Indies, a war broke out. England joined with the Netherlands and Spain sent them the Spanish Armada, but it was defeated by the English Navy. War didn’t finish, peace would require new monarchs in a new century.
Relation with Madrid Philip II placed the Court of his empire in Madrid because the town of Manzanares had everything he needed. And as he had problems with the Archbishopric of Toledo, he decided not to place the Court there. Also in Madrid, he could obtain water easily and the air was clean and healthy. But he didn’t care about Madrid so much. He focused his attention in two monuments: the Monasterio del Escorial and the Palace and Gardens of Aranjuez (none of them was in Madrid’s capital).
Monuments related to Philip II Puente de Segovia (designed by Juan Herrera) Plaza Mayor (it appeared because Philip wanted to unite the Alcazar and the Monasterio de los Jeronimos) Plaza de la Villa Casa de la Panaderia (built in the Plaza Mayor as the principal way of bread trade in Madrid) Puerta del Sol Monasterio de lasDescalzasReales(founded by Philip’s sister, Joan of Austria) Plaza del Rey (where the Casa de lasSieteChimeneas is located. It was ordered to build in the XVI century by Philip II’s huntsman).
Philip II’s Family Joanna I of Castile Philip I Manuel I of Portugal Mary of Castile Charles I of Spain Isabella of Portugal Mary I of England Mary of Portugal Joan of Austria Philip II Elizabeth of Valois Charles of Austria Anne of Austria Mary of Austria Catalina Micaela Isabel Clara Eugenia Mary Carlos Lorenzo Diego Felix Philip III Ferdinand