Philip II (Spain)

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Philip II (portrait of Alonso Sánchez Coello , around 1570)
Signature Philip II (Spain) .PNG
Philip II coat of arms (from 1580)
("The world is not enough")

Philip II - Spanish Felipe II - (* May 21, 1527 in the Palacio de Pimentel , Valladolid ; † September 13, 1598 in El Escorial near Madrid ) was a Spanish monarch from the Habsburg dynasty ( Casa de Austria ).

As the only surviving legitimate son of Charles V , Philip ruled the countries of the Spanish crown ( Spain , the Netherlands , Kingdom of Naples , Kingdom of Sardinia , Kingdom of Sicily , Duchy of Milan and the Spanish colonial empire ) from 1555/56 after his father's abdication and from 1580 as Philip I. also the Kingdom of Portugal .

Philip II was a devout Catholic and vehemently advocated the Counter Reformation . He saw himself called to enforce Catholicism in the countries he ruled and to forcibly push back the growing Protestantism ( Spanish Inquisition ). This led to ongoing military conflicts with the Netherlands ( Eighty Years War 1568–1648) and England ( Anglo-Spanish War 1585–1604), against which he sent the Armada in 1588 in vain . Due to the enormous gold and silver deliveries from the American possessions, the Spanish empire under Philip reached the height of its global supremacy, which also led to a high boom of art and culture ( Siglo de Oro ). Due to the numerous military conflicts, Spain was already in decline towards the end of its reign and it had to declare national bankruptcy three times (1557, 1575 and 1596).

Philip had the monastery palace Real Sitio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial built as a representative seat of power . His motto was Non sufficit orbis (“The world is not enough”), which surpassed his father's motto Plus Ultra (“Always further”). After 42 years of reign, Philip II died on September 13, 1598.


The early years

Philip's parents: Charles V and Isabella of Portugal (painting by Peter Paul Rubens after Titian )
Child portrait of Philipps (unknown artist)

Infant Philip of Spain ( Spanish: Don Felipe de Austria ) was born on May 21, 1527 in Valladolid . He was the only surviving son from the marriage of the Roman-German Emperor and Spanish King Charles V to Isabella of Portugal . At the time of his birth Philip was Archduke of Austria , Prince of Girona , Infante of Castile and Aragon , and Prince of Flanders and Burgundy . As early as April 19, 1528, the Castilian Cortes in Madrid took their oath of allegiance to the eleven-month-old heir to the throne, now Prince of Asturias .

Until his mother's death in 1539, Philipp grew up with his younger sisters Maria and Johanna at their court, which was shaped by the Castilian way of life. Isabella raised her only son relentlessly and severely punished him if, in her opinion, he did not behave with enough dignity for an emperor's son. In addition to Isabella, her lady-in-waiting, Dona Leonor de Mascarenhas, played an important role in early upbringing. As the ruler of heterogeneous areas spread across Europe ("composite monarchy"), Charles V spent only about ten years in Spain during his entire reign and was often absent in the Holy Roman Empire due to wars against France and religious conflicts with the Protestants . Nevertheless, Charles showed particular consideration for Spain, the home country of his power. He took great care in the upbringing of his designated heir to the throne and had Philip deliberately educated in the Spanish-Castilian national tradition. Unusually for the ruling houses of the time, Philip could neither read nor write until he was six, which led the emperor to appoint the nobleman Juan de Zúñiga y Avellaneda as the prince tutor. He put together a wide-ranging training program and Philip received a thorough, academic education that corresponded to the spirit of the Renaissance . Philip was instructed in the works of humanism by the scholar Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda , the mathematician Pedro Ciruelo conveyed scientific content and from 1534 religious education was under the control of the cleric Juan Martínez Silíceo . In addition to his Spanish mother tongue , Philipp was proficient in Portuguese and Latin , but had difficulties learning German and French , which should have a negative impact on his rule. Through his two aristocratic pages Rui Gomes da Silva and Luis de Zúñiga y Requesens , the Crown Prince received additional lessons in hunting , medieval jousting , dance and music. For a contemporary ruler, Philip obtained an excellent education and developed a great passion for collecting, which extended to books and art objects, but also relics and mechanical instruments. At the end of his life, the private library, which was considered the largest in the Western world at that time, comprised more than 13,500 volumes (including manuscripts in Greek , Hebrew and Arabic ). Philipp developed a great interest in geography , cartography , architecture and nature.

In Philipp's case, character traits such as introversion, emotional coolness and pronounced religiosity showed up early on, which intensified in the course of his life. The strongly pronounced monarchical consciousness imparted to him from childhood allowed him to distance himself from his closest surroundings. The sense of the ritual regularity of the Burgundy court ceremony was decisive for his lifestyle : his daily routine had to follow a rigid routine and a strict schedule, and he paid great attention to health and cleanliness.

Outwardly, Philip looked more like a Flemish than a Spaniard and had inherited the so-called Habsburg lower lip from his father.

First reign

Emperor Charles V (left) and Philip II (right), painting by Antonio Arias Fernández

On May 1, 1539, Isabella of Portugal succumbed to the consequences of a miscarriage and died. Eleven-year-old Philip, who according to the ceremony had to open the coffin again to identify the body, collapsed at the sight of his mother's decayed face. The briefly returning Charles V was the Archbishop of Toledo , Juan Pardo de Tavera , the regency of Spain and commissioned this to introduce his son to the affairs of state. At the father's request, the heir to the throne should also learn the craft of war, which is why Philip accompanied the troops of the imperial general Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alba and took part in the siege of Perpignan in 1542 .

In 1535 Francesco II Sforza died without an heir and the direct male line of Sforza became extinct. Both Emperor Charles V and the French King Franz I then claimed the succession in the Duchy of Milan for themselves, which again led to the outbreak of war. Charles conquered and incorporated the wealthy duchy into his domain in 1545. To substantiate his claim, he had appointed Philip Duke of Milan on October 11, 1540 , but left the administration to the authorities there. After Charles had to hurry back to Flanders , he transferred the reign of 16-year-old Philip to Spain for the first time on May 4, 1543. The emperor provided Philip with experienced advisors, including the financial secretary Francisco de los Cobos y Molina and the Duke of Alba, who was to become one of the young regent's most important advisors. In two wills, Karl advised his son, gave a variety of advice and instructions for his future life as a monarch:

Quote “For your person you have to be calm and measured. Never do anything in anger. Be approachable and affable, listen to good advice, and beware of the flatterers as you would before the fire. So that you can better fulfill your task, I have left all of the royal councils here for you (...) I beg you and implore you that you follow this exactly (...) So far, your surroundings have been boys and your amusements have been based on them. From now on you will be the Lord for them and you will have to seek the company of mature men ... "

The intimate admonitions were followed by a second, strictly secret, testament intended only for Philip. In it he gave sharp characteristics of the ministers and advisers and instructions on how the young regent should deal with them.

During those years the Spanish colonization in South and Central America , but also in East Asia, was promoted. In honor of the new regent, the explorer Ruy López de Villalobos named the island of Leyte as "Las Islas Filipinas" , which was soon transferred to the entire archipelago of the so-called Philippines .

First marriage to Maria of Portugal

Maria of Portugal

On November 13, 1543, Philip married his cousin Maria of Portugal in Salamanca . She was the daughter of the Portuguese King John III. , brother of Philip's mother, and Catherine of Castile , sister of Philip's father. The political background of this connection was the effort to consolidate the relations between the Spanish and Portuguese dynasties. The marriage strengthened the Habsburg inheritance claim to the Kingdom of Portugal , and if the House of Avis died out, it would also bring the last independent kingdom of the Iberian Peninsula under Spanish rule. The succession occurred with the death of Henry I in 1580.

After two years of marriage, Maria was so seriously injured by the helpers during the birth of her son Don Carlos (* July 8, 1545; † July 24, 1568) that she began to have a fever and four days later on July 12, 1545, presumably from an infection died in childbed .

After the untimely death of Mary, Philip initially sought to marry a Portuguese princess again, but lived until his next marriage with his mistress Isabel de Osorio , the daughter of the Count of Astorga .

Stay in the kingdom

Philip as heir to the throne (painting by Titian, 1551)

At his father's behest, Philip left Spain for the first time in 1548 and spent several years visiting the various territories under Habsburg rule. On October 2, 1548 he went from Valladolid to Barcelona , landed with his entourage in Genoa on November 25, and traveled along the Spanish road via Milan , Tyrol , Augsburg and Luxembourg to Central Europe. Finally, Philip and his entourage entered Brussels on April 1, 1549, and after seven years of separation they met again with his imperial father. Numerous festivities were held in honor of the Crown Prince, which, in addition to balls , were mainly characterized by medieval knight tournaments . In order to explore his future domains, Philipp then traveled to the Netherlands for a year and came into contact with the cultural life there, which was to have a lasting impact on him. Philipp was a collector of works by Dutch painters throughout his life .

From the Netherlands Philip set out on a trip to the Holy Roman Empire on May 31, 1550 and took part in the Diet of Augsburg at the side of his father until February 14, 1551 . During the stay there, there were meetings with representatives of the Austrian line of the house . In contrast to most of the Habsburgs of the generations before him, who as a rule had undergone an extremely polyglot and international socialization, Philip grew up in Spain with his native Castilian language without having sufficiently learned other important languages. Increased by his personal distantness, the poor language skills prevented communication with the other-language environment and so he was soon considered haughty among the Austrian relatives. At the Reichstag, Charles V tried to win over the German imperial princes for the election of his son as Roman-German king and thus make Philip his designated successor in the empire. Karl's younger brother Ferdinand , ruler of the Habsburg hereditary lands since 1521 , insisted on his own claims. He was not ready to accept Philip and got his son Archduke Maximilian to take part in the negotiations. After long negotiations, a compromise was finally agreed on March 9, 1551 in Augsburg, which had little chance of being realized. It stipulated that Philip should be elected King of Rome and thus Ferdinand's successor, and that Philip should be followed by Maximilian. The project failed in the first talks with the electors , who rejected the candidacy of the "Spaniard" Philip and saw in the background the danger of a hereditary monarchy . Ultimately, Karl was forced to renounce his son's successor in the empire.

Second marriage to Maria Tudor

Maria I (Portrait of Anthony Mor , 1554)

In July 1553, Maria Tudor ascended the English throne and began to re-establish Catholicism in the country , which had been Protestant for two decades . Due to the onset under her reign persecution of non-Catholics, she received the nickname in history "the Bloody" ( Bloody Mary ). Via the diplomat Simon Renard , Charles V sought contact with his cousin, who was thus Philip's second aunt, and proposed that the Queen of England marry the Spanish crown prince on October 10, 1553. As heir to Burgundy, Charles hoped to revive the Anglo-Burgundian alliance from the Hundred Years War ; Maria, in turn, hoped to secure the catholization of England with the connection to Spain and to give birth to a Catholic heir to the throne as quickly as possible, who would have excluded her Protestant half-sister Elisabeth from the line of succession. Maria was both happy and concerned because she was eleven years older than Philip and the bridegroom would meet with great rejection in England ( Wyatt conspiracy ).

Philip landed in England on July 21, 1554 and married Mary four days later in Winchester Cathedral . According to the marriage contract, Philip received the title of King of England , but his real power was reduced to the functions of a prince consort . He was allowed to support his wife with the administration, but was not allowed to change the law. If the marriage resulted in descendants, a daughter would rule England and the Netherlands, and a son would inherit England and Philip's territories in southern Germany and Burgundy. Both the queen and any descendants should only leave the country with the consent of the nobility, and a clause protected England against being involved in the wars of the Habsburgs or having to make payments to the empire. Spaniards were not allowed to join the Privy Council. The contract was one of the most advantageous that England had ever signed, and Philip himself was angry about his role. In private he stated that he was not bound by an agreement that had come about without his consent. According to Philipp, he would only sign so that the marriage could take place, "but not in any way to bind himself and his heirs to comply with the paragraphs, especially not those who would burden his conscience." Despite the reservations, Philipp Maria showed himself opposite as a dutiful, friendly husband.

Barely two months after the wedding, Mary was considered pregnant and the child was expected to be born in April 1555. However, when July passed without giving birth to a child, it became apparent that she either had an illness or a bogus pregnancy . Philip had only kept the prospect of the birth of an heir in England, which is why he left the country on August 19, 1555 at his father's behest and traveled to Flanders. It was not until March 1557 that Philip returned to Maria in England, now after his father's abdication, to request military support. He stayed until July and was able to persuade Maria to assist Spain in the war against France and to attack the French coast in order to relieve the Spanish troops fighting on several fronts.

When Maria died childless on November 17, 1558, Philip briefly considered marrying her half-sister Queen Elizabeth I of England . She feared too strong a Spanish influence and turned down the marriage offer.

"My sister lost her people's favor by marrying you, do you think I will make the same mistake?"

- Elizabeth of England on Philip's proposal of marriage

Takeover of power (1555/56)

Philip II as a young ruler (painting by Titian)
Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis

On July 25, 1554, on the occasion of his marriage to Maria Tudor, Karl had transferred rule of the Kingdom of Naples to his son . In a solemn state ceremony on October 25, 1555 in the Aula Magna of the Coudenberg Palace in Brussels , Charles V handed over rule over the Netherlands to Philip and resigned from the office of Grand Master of the Order of the Golden Fleece . Due to a lack of knowledge of French, Philip's Minister Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle read the new sovereign's personal address in front of the assembled Dutch estates. On January 16, 1556, the crowns of the Spanish kingdoms ( Castile , Aragón , Sicily and the colonial empire ) passed to Philip II. The rule in the Habsburg hereditary lands ( Austria , Bohemia and Hungary ) and the imperial crown passed Karl to his brother Ferdinand I, dividing the dynasty into two lines. After the handover of the rulership rights, Karl retired to the remote monastery of Yuste , in the Spanish Extremadura , and died there on September 21, 1558. As the new defender of his godly duties, Philip was knighted by the Holy Sepulcher .

Philip had inherited the ongoing conflict with France for supremacy in Europe from his father and was encouraged by him to continue the fight against the French (→ see main article Italian wars ). The armistice of Vaucelles, concluded on February 5, 1556, in which the French King Henry II was awarded the dioceses of Metz , Verdun and Toul as well as Piedmont , was short-lived and France allied itself with Pope Paul IV against Philip. This anti-Habsburg alliance was, however, not succeed, because the Duke of Alba occupied the Papal States and the Pope had to agree on 12 September 1557 in the Peace of Cave Palestrina. Before the threatened armed conflict with France, Philip had secured military support from the Netherlands and grudgingly granted concessions to the States General . The Spaniards were under the command of Emanuel Philibert of Savoy , Lamoral von Egmond commanded the Spanish-Dutch cavalry . The reopened war was quickly decided by the battles at Saint-Quentin (August 10, 1557) and Gravelines (July 13, 1558). The English army, allied with Spain, under William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke , did not reach the battlefield in time, but played an important role in the subsequent conquest of the city of Saint-Quentin . After this overwhelming victory over the French, the sight of the battlefield left Philip with a permanent aversion to the war. which is why he further refused to take advantage and pursue the defeated enemy. Instead, he withdrew with his armed forces to the Netherlands and on April 3, 1559 concluded the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis with France. Heinrich renounced all claims in Italy, but kept the dioceses of Metz, Toul and Verdun occupied in 1552. Philip's rule in the Italian territories and the Burgundian possessions were finally confirmed, the allied Emanuel Philibert of Savoy got his territories in Savoy and Piedmont back from France.

The Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis ended the conflict with France, which had lasted for more than sixty years, and was the climax of Spanish great power politics. In order to be recognized as king in Spain, Philip left the Netherlands in August 1559. For the governor , he appointed his half-sister Margaret of Parma , an illegitimate daughter of Charles V with Johanna van der Gheynst .

Third marriage to Elisabeth von Valois

Elisabeth von Valois, portrait by Sofonisba Anguissola around 1565
The daughters of Philip II: Isabella Clara and Katharina Michaela (painted by Sofonisba Anguissola , 1570)

A condition of the peace treaty was Philip's third marriage to Elisabeth von Valois , the daughter of Henry II with Caterina de 'Medici , although this was initially promised to Philip's son Don Carlos. Philipp broke off the engagement between Don Carlos and Elisabeth and sent the Duke of Alba to the French court as his own courtier. Caterina de 'Medici finally agreed to the marriage of her fourteen-year-old daughter to the much older Spanish king, in the hope that she could influence him in favor of France. The marriage was concluded in Toledo on February 2, 1560 . The French princess was later called Isabel de la Paz in Spain , as her marriage to Philip sealed the long-awaited peace between the two powers. Elisabeth of Valois was praised by contemporaries as a radiant beauty. With her dark hair and eyes, her even face, her petite figure, her fair complexion, her elegant demeanor and the modern wardrobe, she won the affection of her royal husband, the court and also became popular with the wider Spanish public.

In her new home, Elisabeth was initially homesick and had difficulty getting used to her new role as Queen of Spain. She fell ill with chickenpox in February 1560 and was only recovering slowly. Elisabeth's weakened body was finally attacked by smallpox at the end of the year , so she had to stay in bed most of the time. Despite the high risk of infection, Philipp hardly left her side during this time and looked after her devotedly. Philipp, who was described by his contemporaries as cold and unapproachable, changed in the presence of his young wife into a happy and loving husband who read his wife's every wish from the eyes. Although Philipp apparently loved Elisabeth sincerely, family life was only second to state affairs in his daily routine. Elisabeth supported him in government affairs and increasingly changed from the young French princess to an intelligent, benevolent, pious and compassionate queen who was concerned with the welfare of the Spanish people.

Elisabeth was pregnant five times. After a stillbirth, her second pregnancy began in May 1564 and with it a martyrdom, from which her early death was to free her. In the fourth month she suffered a dangerous attack of fever, which was treated by the Spanish doctors with the purgations and bloodletting that were customary at the time . When the Infanta Isabella Clara was born on August 12, 1566, complications arose and she hovered between life and death for several days. The next year the daughter Katharina Michaela followed . The many illnesses and the agony of childbirth had left their marks on Elisabeth's body, she was getting paler and thinner, the emaciated body weaker and weaker. Nevertheless, she continued to try to give her husband advice and support. In the course of another pregnancy, she fell seriously ill in the fall of 1568 and did not recover. On October 3, 1568, she suffered a premature birth , lost consciousness several times and passed away on the same day in the Palacio Real of Aranjuez in the presence of Philip, without having given birth to a male heir to the throne.

Two surviving descendants emerged from the marriage to Elisabeth von Valois:

The two adolescent daughters became Philip's most important confidants who, like her mother, who died young, were allowed to advise him on important political issues. He wrote to his daughters from Lisbon on January 15, 1582: “I hear that you are all doing well - that is wonderful news for me! When your little sister (Maria, 1580–1583, daughter from his fourth marriage) has her first milk teeth, it seems a bit premature to me: it should be a replacement for the two teeth that I am about to lose - if I do when I arrive over there (in Spain), I will hardly have her anymore! ” The relationship with Isabella Clara, whom he described as the consolation of his age and the light of his eyes, was particularly intimate.

Construction of the Escorial

Aerial view of the monastery residence
Library room of the Escorial

After the overwhelming victory in the battle of Saint-Quentin (August 10, 1557), the memorial day of St. Lawrence ( San Lorenzo in Spanish ), Philip II had vowed to build a monastery in thanks. His astrologers chose the small Castilian town of El Escorial (German: "the rubble dump"). This is located in a sparsely populated mountain range of the Sierra de Guadarrama , about 50 kilometers northwest of Madrid.

On April 23, 1563, by royal orders, construction began on the monumental monastery residence, which is considered the largest Renaissance building in the world. In doing so, Philipp took up the intellectual design of his father, who spent the last years of his life in a villa that was attached to the monastery of Yuste, and enhanced it with the construction of the Escorial. The building was designed by Juan Bautista de Toledo , a pupil of Michelangelo , after his death (1567) Juan de Herrera took over the construction management until it was completed on September 13, 1584. Due to Philip's fondness for an ascetic lifestyle, the Escorial is sober of the Spanish Renaissance ( Herrera style ) and emphasizes the inviolable dignity of majesty. From the laying of the foundation stone, Philipp personally took care of every detail: All drafts and accounts had to be presented to him, and if he found them to be correct, he put a laconic “Está bien asi” (German: “Is good so”) underneath . The Escorial is an ideological building which, as an expression of the close relationship between state and church, connects monastery and palace complex with one another, a stone symbol of Spanish world power.

The building complex covers an area of ​​33,000 m² and includes a church, a monastery of the Order of the Hieronymites dedicated to St. Lawrence , the actual royal palace with a seamless connection between living area and church, a school and a library. The members of the Spanish royal family were buried in the Pantheon of Kings and the Pantheon of the Infants . In 1576 Philip had the remains of his parents transferred there.

The building complex comprises a total of 2,000 rooms with 3,000 doors and 2,673 windows, as well as 16 inner courtyards , 12 cloisters , 88 fountains and 86 stairways. Contemporaries called it the “ eighth wonder of the world ” or “the heart of the Spanish soul”.

Understanding of power and personality

Typical short message to a secretary in the unmistakable late manuscript of the king, dated to approx. 1580/1585 due to the development status of the manuscript. The message probably addressed to Mateo Vázquez is A lo que benía aqui os responderé otro día tan presto como yo pueda (,) que agora no puedo
The signature of Philip Yo el Rey ( I, the King )
Portrait of Philip II

Philip II was heir to the Spanish Empire, which extended over the Iberian heartland ( Castile , Aragón , Catalonia , from 1580 also Portugal ), the Netherlands and Burgundy . In Italy, the Duchy of Milan , the kingdoms of Naples , Sicily and Sardinia were under his rule, and the monarch's non-European sphere of influence also grew due to the enormous expansion of the colonial territories in America ( Viceroy New Spain , Viceroy Peru ) and Asia ( Philippines ). After taking office, Philip finally moved the center of Habsburg interests away from the Netherlands to Spain and made Madrid , located in the Castilian heartland, the new capital. As a result, Madrid became a permanent political and cultural center of the monarchy ( El Madrid de los Austrias ).

Philip's style of government was marked by increasing bureaucratization , a professional bureaucratic apparatus that was emerging took over communication between the king and the governors in the countries. After 1559 he would no longer leave the Iberian Peninsula and rule his world empire from his desk alone. This was a new, modern, but also sterile kind of reign that stood in contrast to his father's travel royalty , who was constantly moving from residence to residence in order to be personally present. The technique of rule based on paper made Philipp the "archetype of the modern bureaucrat", his rule is considered in historical research as the "first completely bureaucratized system of the modern age" , which earned him the nickname "Rey Papelero" ( king of paper ) during his lifetime . At his court Philip replaced the traditional elite of aristocratic advisers and surrounded himself with secretaries and lawyers of bourgeois origin. The king himself submitted to an enormous workload because he was not ready to delegate tasks. All too often he got lost in trivialities and detailed questions, which gave rise to a cumbersome administrative machinery, the slowness of which was reinforced by the limited means of communication at the time. Arndt Brendecke provided a classification of Philip's rulership technique for his global empire in the knowledge stores and ideas of rulership of his time . With his secretaries, especially with his long-time confidante Mateo Vázquez de Leca , Philip exchanged large quantities of short messages on slips of paper, of which around 10,000 remained in the archives of the Count of Altamira as a closed fund until the 19th century, but later to numerous European ones Archives and collections were scattered.

As a monarch, Philip's main focus was on maintaining his royal authority and maintaining the traditional system, he thought and acted conservatively . He showed a sometimes cruel, relentless behavior towards apostates, severely punished individuals, but also entire cities or regions that showed resistance to the royal authority. The complicated, impenetrable set of rules of the Spanish court ceremony made the king aloof and withdrawn, only the very highest grandees often had personal access to him after months of waiting. Philipp developed a constant distrust of his surroundings, favorites could never be completely sure of his popularity and he could suddenly drop them. Philip's personality increased the distance between the king and his subjects: he was a closed loner, shy at heart and shy of people. Due to the early death of his third wife Elisabeth von Valois, Philip fell into a state of lethargy from 1568, which he had partially escaped during the short marriage. The king only wore black robes , ate the same food punctually every day and made the same excursion every day through the lonely plateau of the Sierra de Guadarrama . In the later years of his life, Philipp only left his private chambers in the Escorial to hear mass.

Philip was a religious ecstatic and fanatical Catholic, for whom religion was above all other things. ( "Before I allow the slightest damage to religion and service to God, I would rather lose all my countries and a hundred lives if I had them" .). He saw himself as an instrument of divine providence . That is why he made himself the patron of the Catholic Counter-Reformation and was convinced that the Spanish monarchy was destined to protect humanity from all forms of heresy and apostasy, which is why Philip avoided any concessions. He saw the totalitarian claim to monoconfessionality as the most important basis of his rule, Catholicism should serve as a connecting element of his territories. As heir to the "Catholic Kings" ( Isabella I and Ferdinand II ), Philip was an advocate of the Inquisition , which played a decisive role in religious conformity. Their strict laws, repression and the violent persecution of heretics , heretics , Protestants , Jews , Muslims and forcible converts ( moriscos ) was increasingly extended to political enemies under Philip.

For a long time, his personality stood in conflict with different assessments. On the one hand, Philip II was at the center of the “ leyenda negra ” (black legend), just outside Spain , which drew the image of a bloody and brutal tyranny from Philip's position as a world power and transferred these elements to his personality. The 19th century American historian John Lothrop Motley wrote : “If Philip possessed a single virtue, it has escaped the author's careful research. Should there be vices - which can be assumed - from which he was excluded, it is because human nature does not even allow perfection in evil. ” On the other hand, especially in Spain there is a tradition of portraying the ruler as “ rey prudente ” or "Rey sabio" (wise king), who, after presenting himself as the new king Solomon from the new temple Escorial, steered the world with an overview. These outdated evaluations have not yet been replaced by a new master narrative in historical studies, which is why Helmut G. Koenigsberger regards Philip II as the "perhaps most enigmatic and controversial personality of the modern age" even before Napoleon Bonaparte and Josef Stalin .

Don Carlos

Don Carlos (painted by Alonso Sánchez Coello, 1564)

As the only son from his marriage to Maria of Portugal, Don Carlos was the legitimate heir to the throne of Philip II and was recognized by the Spanish nobility as Prince of Asturias in 1560 . Possibly as a result of the close relatives of his parents, the prince was physically retarded and was considered to be mentally weak, which is why the king was skeptical about the abilities of his firstborn. Don Carlos was placed under strict clerical supervision by his father. When in 1566 the king appointed the Duke of Alba to take the place of his son as general against the uprising in the Netherlands , Carlos turned against his father. Out of disappointment, he drew up a list of the people he hated most, first and foremost his father. In order to reassure his son, Philip appointed him Minister of State, in which Carlos initially got along quite well. However, he soon fell back into his old behavior, whereupon the suspicious father withdrew the task again.

The prince planned to flee to the Netherlands to join the rebels there. The plans were uncovered and Philip had his son arrested for high treason under dramatic circumstances. In full armor and in the presence of the court, the king arrested his son on January 18, 1568 and gave the order to lock Don Carlos in his apartment. During the summer months, it got unbearably hot in these rooms, so the detainee had the stone floor sprinkled with water. He went barefoot, drank large amounts of ice water and caught a bad cold. When he felt death approaching, he longed to see his father in order to be reconciled with him. However, the latter refused to meet him one last time. When the prince died a short time later on July 24, 1568, Philip's opponents claimed that the king had commissioned the murder of his own son. It is more likely that Don Carlos died of a high fever and severe colic .

Friedrich Schiller processed the story of Don Carlos in his 1787 drama Don Karlos . It criticizes the conditions at the (Spanish) court and its connection with the Catholic Church, especially the (Spanish) Inquisition , only superficially and in the spirit of the Enlightenment . For Schiller, among others, Philip II served as an example of a “ tyrannical absolutism ” that ultimately needs to be transformed into “ enlightened absolutism ”. It was not Schiller's intention to write a historically correct drama.

Uprising of the Netherlands

The Duke of Alba in a painting by Titian

In the second half of the 16th century, the Spanish-English enmity revived, especially because both tried to enforce their own denomination beyond the national borders. Philip II continued the persecution of heretics that had already begun under his father Charles V, who had already provoked unrest in the Netherlands, even more consistently. In 1559, as part of a church reorganization, he appointed new bishops, who were also to be represented in the general estates of the provinces, the so-called general states, and downsized the dioceses. He installed his half-sister Margaret of Parma as governor in the Netherlands and placed the Bishop of Mechelen, Cardinal Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle , at her side as the first minister . Some members of the Dutch Council of State, led by William I of Orange and the Counts Egmond and Hoorn, protested vehemently against these changes and forced Granvelle to resign in 1564. The protest against Spanish rule reached its first climax in the same year with the iconoclasms of the Calvinists . Philip then lifted the Inquisition, but in 1567 sent Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alba , as the new governor on a punitive expedition to the Netherlands. Alba also initially succeeded in suppressing the regional uprisings of the Dutch with the help of special courts, the so-called Blood Council of Brussels. The Count of Egmond volunteered to subjugate the regent's insurrection, gave her a renewed oath of allegiance and helped to consolidate the royal regiment on a new basis. Nevertheless, Philip was angry with him because of his previous opposition. But Egmond felt quite safe, ignored the warnings of William of Orange at their last meeting in Willebroek , went to meet Alba as far as the border and rode into Brussels at his side. He was captured on September 9, 1567 and brought before Albas Blutrat. However, the claim that the Inquisition is supposed to have sentenced all residents of the Netherlands to death is attributed to a forgery. Egmond's privilege as knight of the fleece was not respected; as a traitor and rebel he was sentenced to death and beheaded together with Count Philipp von Hoorn on June 5, 1568 on the Great Market in Brussels.

Execution of Egmond and Horn on June 5, 1568 in the Great Market in Brussels, illustration from the 19th century

The Eighty Years' War , which then broke out, began with the first military clash between the two sides in the Battle of Heiligerlee, in which Adolf von Nassau, the brother of William of Orange, was killed. On July 21, 1568, Alba defeated an insurgent army under Ludwig von Nassau in the battle of Jemgum (Jemmingen) and devastated the area around Groningen . Above all, the Dutch privateers, known as the “ Wassergeusen ”, subsequently made it difficult for the Spaniards to cope with their constant attacks on sea transports and bases. Alba defeated the Dutch troops under the leadership of William I of Orange again in the following years , but made himself intolerable by his harsh regime. On October 17, 1573, the Duke of Alba was replaced by the previous governor of Milan Luís de Zúñiga y Requesens . Even if the new governor was initially more successful than his predecessor, the rebels achieved another great victory: They flooded the country, sailed to Leiden and freed the city from the Spanish besiegers (Siege of Leiden). On October 3, 1574, the sea gulls liberated Leiden, the Spaniards suffered a heavy defeat. Philip II authorized Requesens to conduct peace negotiations with the States General, which began on March 3, 1575 in Breda . Spain demanded the return of the Netherlands to the Catholic faith. Catholics were promised the restitution of property confiscated during Alba's governorship (1566–1573). Protestants should emigrate within the next six months, and they should be given eight to ten years to sell their property in the Netherlands. However, on July 13, 1575, the negotiations ended with no results. Despite the simultaneous Spanish bankruptcy, Requesens began the siege of Zierikzee on September 28, 1575 . During that year there was a brief rapprochement between Spain and England. The English Queen Elizabeth I closed the English ports to the Dutch rebels. Requesens died unexpectedly in March 1576; Due to the lack of pay, mutinies already broke out in the army, which escalated on November 4th with the sacking of Antwerp.

The new Spanish governor was Philip's half-brother Juan de Austria , an illegitimate son of Charles V with Barbara Blomberg , who had been officially introduced to the Spanish court at the father's testamentary request. He formally accepted the demands, but the unrest continued. The Ghent pacification was to be the last joint act of the 17 Dutch provinces. On July 24, 1581, the provinces of the Union of Utrecht formed the Republic of the United Netherlands and declared their independence. William I of Orange was appointed governor of the new republic. The parts of the southern provinces that did not join the Union of Arras were subjugated between 1581 and 1585, sometimes after difficult sieges, by the Spaniards under the new governor Alexander Farnese , son of Margaret of Parma. Although Wilhelm was murdered by a Catholic in 1584, the States General were able to agree relatively quickly on Wilhelm's son Moritz von Oranien as his successor. When Alexander Farnese conquered Antwerp in 1585, the provinces of the Union of Utrecht were in extreme danger. However, the state advocate for the province of Holland, Johan van Oldenbarnevelt , managed to negotiate a pact of the States General with England in 1596. With his financial and military support, the war against Spain was continued. Large parts of the northeastern Netherlands were also conquered by the Spanish during these years, but these conquests were reversed by the Dutch after 1589. In the end, only the war of independence in the north was successful.

Fourth marriage to Anna of Austria

Anna of Austria (painting by Alonso Sánchez Coello , 1571)

Due to the death of his third wife and his only son Don Carlos in 1568 Philip was still without a male heir to the throne, which is why he decided to marry a fourth. After negotiations with his cousin, the Roman-German Emperor Maximilian II , the marriage with his eldest daughter Archduchess Anna of Austria was agreed, who should originally have been married to Don Carlos. As Maximilian's daughter with Maria of Spain , a younger sister of Philip, she was Philip's niece, which is why Pope Pius V granted the dispensation to marry only after long resistance. On her bridal trip Anna was accompanied by her younger brothers Albrecht and Wenzel , who from then on were brought up at the Spanish court and never returned to Austria. The marriage between Anna and Philipp was concluded on September 12, 1570 in Segovia .

The connection resulted in five descendants, including four long-awaited male heirs, of which only the later Philip III. should reach adulthood:

  • Ferdinand (December 4, 1571 - October 18, 1578), Prince of Asturias
  • Karl (August 12, 1573 - June 30, 1575)
  • Diego (August 15, 1575 - November 21, 1582), Prince of Asturias
  • Philip (April 3, 1578 - March 31, 1621), as Philip III. King of SpainMargaret of Austria
  • Maria (February 14, 1580 - August 5, 1583)

Anna, who grew up at the Spanish court herself, had a cheerful disposition and, in addition to her own children, also took care of the two stepdaughters Isabella and Katharina, with whom she developed a close relationship of trust. As queen, she was to succeed at times in breaking through the rigid court ceremonies and developing a lively marital life with her husband. During a joint trip to Portugal in 1580, which was intended to consolidate Philip's claim to the Portuguese throne, the king fell seriously ill with flu . The newly pregnant Anna got infected while she was caring for her husband and did not survive the disease. The doctors drained her veins. After having had an incapable premature birth after days of agony, she died on October 26th in Talavera la Real .

The death of his wife hit Philipp hard, two years later he wrote to his daughter about the night of death: "I will always remember that night, even if I should live a thousand years."

War in the Mediterranean

Philip II gives his son Ferdinand to heaven as thanks for the victory of Lepanto (painting by Titian, 1573/75)

The ongoing attacks and looting by North African corsairs severely disrupted the trade routes of the Mediterranean and had a negative impact on the Spanish economy. When Spanish possessions on the Levantine coast were attacked directly, Philip II succeeded in 1560 to form a military alliance between Spain, the Republic of Venice , the Republic of Genoa , the Duchy of Savoy , the Papal States and the Order of Malta . Under the command of the Genoese Giovanni Andrea Doria , the Alliance assembled a fleet of around 200 ships with 30,000 soldiers in Messina and conquered the island of Djerba in the Gulf of Gabès on March 12, 1560 . Djerba was a key bastion for the Muslim corsairs under Khair ad-Din Barbarossa and Turgut Reis for a long time . In response, a strong Ottoman fleet , led by Piyale Pascha , was sent, which was able to regain the island on May 14, 1560 after the successful naval battle of Djerba . The Christian alliance lost around 20,000 soldiers and half of their ships, as a result of which the Ottomans' maritime domination in the Mediterranean reached its climax (see Siege of Malta, 1565 ).

The Morisks (Christianized Arabs) living in Spain were held responsible for the military defeat . At the instigation of the Inquisition and with the support of royal edicts, efforts were made to wipe out their culture in Andalusia . The strict Catholic Philip ordered in an edict ( Pragmática de 1567 ) forced conversions as well as a ban on Islam and the use of the Arabic language , which in 1568 led to a Morisk uprising in the Alpujarras Mountains . In order to prevent the impending loss of Granada , Philipp appointed his half-brother Juan de Austria as the new commander-in-chief of the Spanish troops in April 1569. He succeeded in militarily defeating the last rebels by October 1570, after which around 80,000 moriscos were expelled to other parts of the country and to North Africa . This led to a decline and extensive collapse of the Andalusian economic system.

The conquest of Cyprus by the Ottoman Empire on August 1, 1571 gave the Christian powers in Europe an opportunity to seek direct confrontation with the Ottoman fleet. In order to curb the further advance of the Ottomans ( " Turkish threat " ), Spain, Venice and Genoa, mediated by Pope Pius V , united to form the Holy League and decided to send a joint fleet to the eastern Mediterranean. Under the command of Don Juan, the Ottomans were defeated on October 7, 1571 in the naval battle of Lepanto . This is considered the largest galley battle in history and ended with the almost complete destruction of the Ottoman fleet. Despite the victory, Philip refused to take any further action against the Ottomans , initially behaved defensively and only allowed Don Juan, who was praised in the Christian world as the conqueror of the Ottomans, to take up the fight against the corsairs allied with the Ottomans in the North African countries in 1573 Barbarian states . From Naples , the Spanish fleet conquered Tunis , which, however, was regained by the Ottomans in 1574.

Perez affair

Don Juan de Austria (painting by Alonso Sánchez Coello )

After the death of Philip's childhood friend and advisor Rui Gomes da Silva, Prince of Eboli, in 1573, his widow Ana de Mendoza y de la Cerda feared for her influence at court and therefore turned to the Royal Secretary of State Antonio Pérez . The two became involved in the peace party against the tough policies of the Duke of Alba in the Netherlands and sold state secrets to the highest bidder. As Secretary for Dutch Affairs, Pérez was able to intercept all reports and manipulate them for his own benefit.

In the rebellious Netherlands, the situation threatened to escalate in 1576 due to a mutiny in the Spanish army and the death of the previous governor, Luis de Zúñiga y Requesens . Philip II succeeded in persuading the popular Don Juan to accept the title of Governor General, and after long negotiations on February 12, 1577, Don Juan signed the Eternal Edict with the States General . The edict was initially able to calm the situation and don Juan was able to enter Brussels on May 1, 1577. Due to the great popularity of his half-brother, the king became increasingly suspicious and refused any further support. Antonio Pérez and Ana de Mendoza tried to take advantage of this fact. On the initiative of Pérez, the secretary Juan de Escobedo had already been installed in the vicinity of Don Juan in order to spy on him. Contrary to expectations, Escobedo remained loyal to his new master and was sent on a diplomatic mission to Madrid to solicit financial aid. In this step Philip saw treason against himself and gave Pérez secret consent to take action against this conspiracy, withdrew from Madrid and had Escobedo stabbed on the night of March 31, 1578. Don Juan, who had meanwhile fallen ill, also only barely survived an assassination attempt in the Netherlands that was planned by the English on him, as the English Queen Elizabeth I feared that he and his army might free Maria Stuart by force and marry her or that he could succeed in subjugating the Netherlands. He withdrew to a field camp near Namur and probably died on October 1, 1578 of typhus . But there are also reasons to believe that he was killed by poison in his food over a long period of time, especially since don Juan had been wasting away for months.

At Philip II's request, the body of his half-brother was to be transferred to Spain, for which purpose it was cut up and smuggled in saddlebags through France to Madrid and reassembled. Philipp became increasingly suspicious of his secretary's motives and realized that he had consented to a crime. He dropped Pérez and decided to take decisive action against him. On the orders of the king, Pérez was arrested and, after a lengthy process, imprisoned in Turégano . Ana de Mendoza was accused of treason and sentenced to lifelong house arrest in her palace in Pastrana .

Union with Portugal

The territories marked in yellow mark the European possessions of Philip II from 1580

The Portuguese Cardinal King Henry I died on January 31, 1580, which meant that the House of Avis , which had previously ruled Portugal , had no male heir to the throne. Due to the close relationship to the Spanish Habsburgs, the deceased had, in his will, Philip II, a son of Isabella of Portugal as his successor. The resulting personal union with Spain met with rejection in Portugal. The ambitious António von Crato took advantage of the dissatisfaction and declared himself the anti - Portuguese king on July 24th, supported in particular by the lower clergy, craftsmen and workers. Philip was determined to maintain his claim to the throne and commissioned the Duke of Alba to enforce it militarily. In the battle of Alcântara on August 25, the Spanish army was able to defeat the opposing king's troops, the hapless António von Crato had to go into exile in France. By paying large sums of money and assuring their rights, Philip was able to win over the Portuguese nobility. He was proclaimed - in absentia - by the united Cortes in Tomar on September 12th to Philip I of Portugal . In December 1580 Philip arrived in Portugal. On April 15, 1581 the Portuguese Cortes swore allegiance to him in Tomar.

From 1580 to 1583 Philip resided in Lisbon's Paço da Ribeira , which he had generously redesigned in the Mannerist style based on designs by Filippo Terzi . Before returning to Spain, he appointed his nephew and son- Albrecht for Viceroy . The personal union established by Philip existed until 1640.

War against england

Philip II in armor (around 1580)
The battle between the Spanish Armada and the English Fleet (English School painting, 16th century)
The Way of the Armada (1588)

cf. Main article Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604)
cf. Main article of the Spanish Armada

The extensive gold and silver imports from the South American colonies were elementary for the Spanish economy and allowed Philip II to exert great pressure on his opponents and to secure his own supremacy in Europe.

The attacks of English privateers like Francis Drake and John Hawkins on the convoys of the silver fleet and bases on the West Indies , which began in 1568, weakened the flow of precious metals to Europe and endangered Spanish supremacy. The English Queen Elisabeth denied, especially after the annexation of Portugal from 1580, the Spanish-Portuguese claim to discovery and the papal division of the "New World" ( Treaty of Tordesillas ). The increasing Spanish-English antagonism was exacerbated by the question of religion and England became Spain's main adversary in the European network of power. Elisabeth supported the Protestants in the Netherlands and France, while the strict Catholic Philip supported the Catholic movement in England. If England were to be defeated, this would have meant the collapse of the rebellious Netherlands. Since the war with the Ottomans and the union with the sea power Portugal, the Spanish fleet was strong enough to strike a blow against England. From 1582/83 onwards Philip seriously considered a military landing enterprise directed against England. On April 4, 1581, Elisabeth had given Francis Drake a knighthood on board his ship instead of surrendering him, as Philip demanded in a protest note. When Drake, officially legitimized by his queen, attacked the port city of Vigo in 1585 and sacked Santiago on the Cape Verde Islands , Philip made the decision to launch a large-scale invasion. Since he was also trying to re-Catholicize England and to enforce his claims to the English throne, his plan was approved by the Pope.

Philipp approved enormous financial resources for the planned invasion, which put a further strain on the already notoriously strained state budget. To build the armada , the king had to sell crown estates and titles of nobility in order to raise the sum of around ten million ducats that the fleet ultimately cost. He entrusted Admiral Álvaro de Bazán , who died on February 9, 1588 while the fleet was being collected in Lisbon, with running the business . He appointed Alonso Pérez de Guzmán , Duke of Medina-Sidonia, against his express request, as his successor . The duke had previously worked in the administrative service and had no nautical knowledge, which is why he wanted to persuade the king to withdraw the appointment. In a letter he pointed out to Philip his ignorance of the sea, his poor health and tendency to seasickness; Facts that made it impossible for him to take command. The appointment was not canceled and Philipp gave him the following order on April 1, 1588: “When you receive my orders, you will leave with the whole armada and sail straight to the English Channel, through which you will continue to Cape Marget to shake hands with the Duke of Parma, my nephew, and to clear and secure the way for his crossing ... "

On May 19, 1588, the Armada left the mouth of the Tagus with 130 ships , complemented each other in A Coruña and reached the English Channel in early August . At Gravelines , strong landing troops should be embarked as planned under Alessandro Farnese , Duke of Parma . But counter-attacks by the agile, modern armed English fleet under Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham and Francis Drake, as well as the use of fire on August 8th, brought disorder to the Spanish squadron ( naval battle of Gravelines ). In the Strait of Dover , the fleet suffered further losses from the pursuers and could not carry out the planned take-up of the landing forces. About 30 galleons were seized by the enemy or were lost, the number of British victims was about half that of the Spanish and were largely due to illnesses. The untrained for the company Duke of Medina Sidonia broke the company down, ordered a retreat on the Scottish north coast and Ireland around, brought the onset of severe weather the Armada the heaviest losses on why the end of September 1588 only 65 ships the port of Santander reached . When Philip was brought the news of the defeat, he is said to have said: "I sent my ships against people and not against water and wind."

Although the Spanish fleet was still quite powerful in the period that followed, as should be shown in 1589 when the English Armada fended off the counterattack , the defeat marked the beginning of the stagnation of Spain. England had successfully defied the world empire and thus demonstrated the need to protect a huge colonial empire with a corresponding fleet. As a reaction to the outcome of the naval battle, Philip began to systematically build up a seaworthy fleet for use in the Atlantic only after 1588 . The Anglo-Spanish conflict did not end until 1604.

What Philip II really lost in 1588 was the propaganda battle associated with Operation Armada. Elizabeth I was able to win this so lastingly that until recently even historically educated people believed unquestioningly that Spanish supremacy at sea was actually dramatically and persistently weakened at the time.

New war against France

Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma , governor of the Netherlands

On August 2, 1589, King Heinrich III. murdered by France, the male line of the Valois was extinguished. Philip raised claims to the throne for his daughter Isabella Clara Eugenia, since she was Heinrich's niece. However, the claim to the throne had no legal basis, as the Salian law in France excluded female succession and Elisabeth von Valois had renounced all her claims to the French throne at her wedding. The rightful king under the French inheritance law was the Protestant King Henry of Navarre, who ascended the throne as Henry IV .

From 1590 to 1598 Philip, supported by the Pope, intervened on the side of the French Catholics in the religious war against Henry IV. Spain's governor in the Netherlands, Alexander Farnese , moved with a strong army to France in 1590 and appalled Paris, which was besieged by Henry. He supplied the city with food, stormed Lagny and advanced to Corbeil , which cut off Paris. The Dutch under Moritz von Nassau , meanwhile, took several cities in the Dutch hinterland and threatened Brussels. Farnese had to hurry back, but did not get enough time from the king to put the matter in order, and instead had to return to France in 1591. He conquered Caudebec and when he marched into Normandy also terrified Rouen , which was besieged by Heinrich . Farnese could not achieve more, since he not only had Heinrich's far superior power before him, but also the allied Duke of Mayenne suspiciously refused to help the troops. Bad health, Farnese had to withdraw after a fruitless attempt to conquer St. Quentin ; his already weakened troops were still at Arras when he died of fever on December 2, 1592. In March 1594, the last Spanish garrison left Paris, which then became the new capital of Henry IV. In January 1595, France formed a strong coalition with England and the States General against Spain, where the cost of the war led to a new national bankruptcy. On May 2, 1598, the new governor of the Spanish Netherlands, Archduke Albrecht , brokered the Treaty of Vervins with Henry IV , which restored the state of the area from 1559.

National bankruptcies

The prosperity of the Castilian heartland was the material basis for Philip's world empire. The immense gold and silver imports from the American colonies (see Cerro Rico in Potosí ) and later also the income from the Portuguese possessions ( India trade ) enabled him to exert greater military pressure on Spain's foreign policy enemies, but led to an increased dependency of the native economy from the precious metals.

The aristocracy, who consumed money , appropriated a large part of the wealth from America and used it to import finished goods . Instead of investing in means of production , raw materials were exported and expensive manufactured goods were imported to Spain. That made for an unfavorable trade balance; Spanish products were no longer competitive on the European market, which led to a constant lack of money. Trade and industry fell into decline, and inflation , caused by high government spending on warfare, increased (under Philip's rule, prices rose fivefold). Castile was becoming increasingly impoverished, and Philip had to finance the high expenses through loans from foreign donors, especially the banks in Genoa and Augsburg. At the end of his reign, the annual interest payments on the loans made up 40 percent of the state's revenue. The king was forced to cover the loans with new bonds (“Juros”). Although in the last years of the 16th century more gold and silver were imported from America than ever before, Spain was de facto insolvent.

As a result of this economic policy, Philip II was forced three times during his reign to declare his creditors bankrupt : in 1557, 1575 and 1596 no more payments could be made. In 1557 the Welser trading house was particularly affected by bankruptcy. The last suspension of payments in his reign was on November 29, 1596.

End of life

Philip II's wheelchair (around 1595)
History portrait by Francisco Jover y Casanova (1864): Philip II on his deathbed

At the end of his life the failure of the politics of Philip II was recognizable and he saw the rise of those whom he had fought bitterly. Despite its brutal policy of oppression, the Netherlands was in open conflict with Spain, England had become a sea power under Elizabeth I, and France was united under Henry IV after the Huguenot Wars . In Spain itself, the decline - accompanied by local revolts and an economic crisis - became apparent; the exhaustion of the country led to its slow decline during the 17th century.

Philip's resignation was reinforced by the progressive physical decline. From 1595 onwards, gout , from which his father had suffered, forced him into a wheelchair specially made for him, with severe pain and almost immobile. Because of a malaria infection, he suffered from attacks of fever . In the last years of his life, the relationship with his eldest daughter Isabella Clara was particularly intimate and Philipp described her as the consolation of his age and the light of his eyes. She helped her father with government affairs, organized his documents, read important messages to him and translated Italian reports into Spanish for him. During the last three months of his life, Philipp was bedridden, festering ulcers appeared on his body, and from August 1598 his health deteriorated noticeably. To alleviate the agony of his last days, Philip turned to religion and died at the age of 71 on September 13, 1598 at around 5 a.m. in his apartments in El Escorial. He was buried in the " Pantheon of Kings " below the palace church of the Escorial.

He was succeeded by his eldest son Don Felipe as Philip III.

Philip II wore glasses towards the end of his life and was the first known monarch to do so in public, as Geoffrey Parker pointed out. In a short message from the king to his secretary Mateo Vázquez, however, the latter showed his unwillingness to be seen with glasses when driving out in the carriage, which is why he did not take any work with him ("muy ruin vergüenza es llevar anteojos en el carro").


Maximilian I (1459–1519)
Roman-German Emperor
Philip the Handsome (1478–1506)
King of Castile and León
Mary of Burgundy (1457–1482)
Duchess of Burgundy
Charles V (1500–1558)
Roman-German Emperor, King of Castile, Leon and Aragón
Ferdinand II the Catholic (1452–1516)
King of Castile, León and Aragón
Joan the Mad (1479–1555)
Queen of Castile and León
Isabella I the Catholic (1451–1504)
Queen of Castile and León
Philip II (1527–1598)
King of Spain and the Two Sicilies, Duke of Luxembourg and Milan, Free Count of Burgundy, etc.
Ferdinand of Portugal-Viseu (1433–1470)
( House of Avis )
Manuel I (1469–1521)
King of Portugal
Beatrix of Portugal (1430–1506)
Isabella of Portugal (1503–1539)
Ferdinand II the Catholic (1452-1516)
Mary of Aragon (1482-1517)
Isabella I the Catholic (1451–1504)




Web links

Commons : Philip II (Spain)  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Manuel Fernández Álvarez: Felipe II y su tiempo . Espasa, Madrid 1998, p. 631.
  2. ^ JH Elliott: A Europe of Composite Monarchies. In: Past and Present . Vol. 137, 1992, pp. 48-71.
  3. Manuel Fernández Álvarez: Felipe II y su tiempo . Espasa, Madrid 1998, p. 646.
  4. Herbert Nette: Karl V. Rowohlts Monographien, Hamburg 2002, ISBN 3-499-50280-1 , p. 91
  5. Herbert Nette: Karl V. Rowohlts Monographien, Hamburg 2002, ISBN 3-499-50280-1 , pp. 99-102
  6. ^ Friedrich Edelmayer: Philipp II. Biography of a world ruler . Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2009, p. 56.
  7. ^ Edward Grierson: Philipp II. Societäts Verlag, p. 22.
  8. Manuel Fernández Álvarez: Felipe II y su tiempo . Espasa, Madrid 1998, pp. 699-711.
  9. ^ Friedrich Edelmayer: Philipp II. Biography of a world ruler . Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2009, pp. 67-73.
  10. Manuel Fernández Álvarez: Felipe II y su tiempo . Espasa, Madrid 1998, p. 725.
  11. Linda Porter: Mary Tudor. The first queen . Piatkus 2009, p. 291
  12. ^ Anna Whitelock: Mary Tudor. England's first queen . Bloomsbury 2010, p. 211
  13. Linda Porter: Mary Tudor. The first queen . Piatkus 2009, p. 292
  14. ^ Anna Whitelock: Mary Tudor. England's first queen . Bloomsbury 2010, p. 229
  15. Linda Porter: Mary Tudor. The first queen . Piatkus 2009, p. 338
  16. Jakob Hermens: The Order of the Holy. Grabe , Schaub 1867, p. 74 f.
  17. Manuel Fernández Álvarez: Felipe II y su tiempo . Espasa, Madrid 1998, p. 768.
  18. Manuel Fernández Álvarez: Felipe II y su tiempo . Espasa, Madrid 1998, p. 345.
  19. ^ Friedrich Edelmayer: Philip II - a knight? In: Martin Wrede (Ed.): The staging of the heroic monarchy. Early modern royalty between knightly legacy and military challenge (= historical magazine. Supplements. Vol. 62). Oldenbourg, Munich 2014, ISBN 978-3-486-78106-9 , pp. 170-182, here p. 182.
  20. Marc-André Grebe: Review of: Brendecke: Imperium und Empirie. In: H-Soz-u-Kult, January 11, 2011.
  21. Empire and empiricism. Functions of knowledge in Spanish colonial rule. Böhlau, Cologne et al. 2009, ISBN 978-3-412-20399-3 .
  22. Manuel Fernández Álvarez: Felipe II y su tiempo . Espasa, Madrid 1998, p. 782.
  23. ^ John Lothrop Motley: History of the United Netherlands from the Death of William the Silent to the Twelve Years' Truce 1609. Vol. 2, Murray, London 1867, p. 534 f. In the original: "If Philip possessed a single virtue it has eluded the conscientious research of the writer of these pages. If there are vices - as possibly there are - from which he was exempt, it is because it is not permitted to human nature to attain perfection even in evil. "
  24. Fernando Checa Cremades: Felipe II en El Escorial. La representación del poder real. (PDF; 7.8 MB) In: Anales de Historia del Arte 1 (1989), pp. 121-136. Regine Jorzick covers his self-portrayal: Symbolism of rule and the state. Mediating royal rule in early modern Spain (1556–1598). Oldenbourg, Munich 1998 (Studies on the History and Culture of the Iberian and Ibero-American Countries, Vol. 4), ISBN 3-486-56382-3 , ISBN 3-7028-0358-0 .
  25. ^ Helmut G. Koenigsberger: The Statecraft of Philip II. In: Ders .: Politicians and Virtuosi. Essays in Early Modern History. Hambledon, London 1986, (History series, Vol. 49 / Studies presented to the International Commission for the History of Representative and Parliamentary Institutions, Vol. 69), ISBN 0-907628-65-6 , pp. 77-96, here p . 77: "perhaps ... no personality in modern history, not even Napoleon or Stalin, ... has been both as enigmatic and controversial as Philip II of Spain."
  26. Giardini 1994, pp. 202-205.
  27. Cesare 1994, p. 231.
  28. Giardini 1994, p. 234.
  29. cf. Edward Peters, Inquisition, University of California Press, Berkeley 1989, p. 152; Gerd Schwerhoff, The Inquisition: Persecution of Heretics in the Middle Ages and Modern Times, CH Beck, Munich 2004, p. 124 f.
  30. ^ Christopher F. Laferl: The culture of the Spaniards in Austria under Ferdinand I. 1522–1564. Böhlau, Vienna 1997, p. 121.
  31. Wolfgang Behringer, Hartmut Lehmann, Christian Pfister: Cultural Consequences of the "Little Ice Age". Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2005, p. 8.
  32. ^ Friedrich Edelmayer: Philipp II. (1527–1598). The biography of a world ruler . Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2009, p. 180.
  33. Paul Badde : Holy Land. On the royal road of all pilgrimages. Gütersloher Verlags-Haus, Gütersloh 2008, ISBN 978-3-579-06470-3 , p. 32.
  34. At Eboli's person and to fight his court faction against the Duke of Alba James M. Boyden : The Courtier and the King. Ruy Gómez De Silva, Philip II, and the Court of Spain. University of California Press, Berkeley et al. 1995 (free e-book).
  35. Manuel Fernández Álvarez: Felipe II y su tiempo . Espasa, Madrid 1998, p. 532.
  36. From Salamis to Dien Bien Phu , p. 105.
  37. ^ Changing of the Guard on the Ocean , p. 163.
  38. ↑ Changing of the Guard on the Ocean, p. 228.
  39. Manfred Vasolt: Philipp II. Rororo 2001, ISBN 978-3-499-50401-3 , reading sample (PDF; 161 kB) .
  40. ^ Rudolf Bolzern: Spain, Milan and the Catholic Confederation. ISBN 3-7252-0420-9 .
  41. Dieter Paul Mertz: The Habsburgs and the gout. In: Zeitschrift für Allgemeinmedizin 68, 1992, No. 29, pp. 959-962.
  42. Manuel Fernández Álvarez: Felipe II y su tiempo . Espasa, Madrid 1998, p. 936.
predecessor Office successor
Charles I. King of Spain
Philip III
Charles I. King of Naples
King of Sicily
King of Sardinia
Philip III
Charles V Duke of Milan
Philip III
Charles V Duke of Luxembourg
Philip III
Charles V Grand Master of the Order of the Golden Fleece
Philip III
Heinrich I. King of Portugal
Philip III
Charles of Austria and Trastámara Prince of Asturias
Karl of Austria and Avis
Guildford Dudley Royal Consort of England and Ireland
Anna of Denmark