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Philip of Spain

Philip of Spain

Henry Kamen
Copyright Date: 1997
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 412
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    Philip of Spain
    Book Description:

    Philip II of Spain-ruler of the most extensive empire the world had ever known-has been viewed in a harsh and negative light since his death in 1598. Identified with repression, bigotry, and fanaticism by his enemies, he has been judged more by the political events of his reign than by his person. This book, published four hundred years after Philip's death, is the first full-scale biography of the king. Placing him within the social, cultural, religious, and regional context of his times, it presents a startling new picture of his character and reign.Drawing on Philip's unpublished correspondence and on many other archival sources, Henry Kamen reveals much about Philip the youth, the man, the husband, the father, the frequently troubled Christian, and the king. Kamen finds that Philip was a cosmopolitan prince whose extensive experience of northern Europe broadened his cultural imagination and tastes, whose staunchly conservative ideas were far from being illiberal and fanatical, whose religious attitudes led him to accept a practical coexistence with Protestants and Jews, and whose support for Las Casas and other defenders of the Indians in America helped determine government policy. Shedding completely new light on most aspects of Philip's private life and, in consequence, on his public actions, the book is the definitive portrayal of Philip II.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-18426-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations and Maps
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiii)
  5. MAPS
    (pp. xiv-xv)
  6. The House of Habsburg in the Sixteenth Century
    (pp. xvi-xvi)
  7. 1 The Formative Years 1527–1544
    (pp. 1-20)

    In July 1522 the Emperor Charles V returned to his Spanish dominions. Over two years previously he had sailed from them, just as revolution was breaking out in the major cities of Castile. His journey abroad took him to the lands over which he ruled in northern Europe. In Germany he was formally elected Holy Roman Emperor of the German nation. During the sessions of the Imperial Diet in Gennany he paid due attention to the scandal caused by the preachings of the monk Martin Luther. His absence did not prevent him following closely the course of events in Spain....

  8. 2 The Renaissance Prince 1545–1551
    (pp. 21-49)

    ‘I cannot think where this will stop,’ the Castilian religious reformer Teresa of Avila commented around mid-century. ‘I have seen so many changes in my lifetime that I do not know how to go on. What will it be like for those who are born today and have long lives before them?’²

    The Spain over which prince Philip presided in his father’s absence was indeed changing in several ways. Like many countries in Europe, ‘Spain’ was not a unified state but an association of provinces sharing a common king. The majority of provinces were grouped under the crown of Castile,...

  9. 3 Soldier and King 1551–1559
    (pp. 50-78)

    By the time Philip returned to Valladolid in the autumn of 1551 the world was again moving towards war.

    After three years of feasts, gallantry and women, the prince found it difficult to adjust to the sober reality of politics. The week after arriving in Valladolid he went to Tordesillas for the customary visit to his grandmother. The visits were a painful duty. Juana did not always recognise those who came to see her. For years she had refused to attend mass, or go to confession or communion. She identified all her attendants as devils. Her conversation seemed normal until,...

  10. 4 The Cross and the Crescent 1559–1565
    (pp. 79-107)

    Philip returned only to plunge into severe problems at home. There were food shortages. In 1559 torrential spring rains fell, the river Duero flooded, and southern Castile was suffering from grain scarcity. In Aragon, there was political uproar provoked by an attempt of the Inquisition to extend its control over the Moriscos of the nobility.²

    The first priority was financial. One week after arriving in Valladolid, he summoned a Cortes to meet in a month’s time in Toledo. In his opening proposal, which he read in person, Philip expressed his satisfaction at being home again. He reported on the peace,...

  11. 5 Towards Total War 1566–1572
    (pp. 108-142)

    Philip’s incessant search for peace was fuelled by his knowledge that Spain did not have the means to wage war. He had always said so. Other nations, seeing the vast range of his territories, preferred to believe that he had expansionist aims. From 1566, the outbreak of seemingly minor conflicts in different parts of the globe forced Spain to upgrade its war capability, a move that had profound implications for the Castilian treasury.

    Philip ruled over a collection of states that both then and later was dubbed an ‘empire’ but in reality was more like a confederation. The major partners...

  12. 6 Dropping the Pilot 1572–1580
    (pp. 143-177)

    Although a victory in military terms, Lepanto won little more than a breathing space. There still remained, at least for Spain, the question of the Muslim threat from north Africa. Philip was keen to use the advantage to obtain greater security on his flank, and he encouraged Don Juan to undertake the seizure of Tunis. This was captured successfully on 10 October 1573, almost exactly two years after Lepanto.

    The picture is often given of a Philip who, after these years of conflict in the Mediterranean, accepted a truce and turned his attention to the north. The reality was more...

  13. 7 The World of Philip II
    (pp. 178-210)

    The Spanish monarchy arrived late in the company of other princely courts. In the fifteenth century the European Renaissance made Italy the principal magnet for scholars, writers and artists who took the new ideas back to their noble and princely courts in France, Germany, Burgundy and England. A circuit of cultural interchange was created, but Spain lay on its fringes. In the time of Ferdinand and Isabella, a few scholars had brought from Italy ideas that took some root in the small noble courts and in the court of Isabella. At the same time, close links with the Netherlands confirmed...

  14. 8 The Statesman
    (pp. 211-241)

    Setting up a permanent capital in the 1560s brought a closer attention to the machinery of government. Among the first changes made by the king was a reform in the system of councils. When Philip took over Naples and Milan from his father in 1554 it became obvious that special machinery must be devised for dealing with Italian affairs, normally handled by the council of State. This led to the creation, between and 1559, of a separate council for Italy.² Pursuit of more efficiency was not the only reason. The new council was a linchpin for the whole system of...

  15. 9 War in the West 1580–1586
    (pp. 242-268)

    Philip was, in 1580, at the height of his power. The first monarch in history to rule over a united peninsula, he could now truly title himself king of ‘Spain’. In medieval times, the term ‘Spain’ (or ‘the Spains’) had been applied loosely to the sum of states within the whole peninsula, including Catalonia and Portugal. Philip had frequently termed himself ‘king of Spain’ in documents, but only as a way of abbreviating his titles.² From 1580 the loose concept was a political reality. To issue a decree in Lisbon for ‘these realms of Spain’³ was something no ruler of...

  16. 10 The Time of Thunder 1587–1593
    (pp. 269-300)

    The early months of 1587 were bitterly cold in Castile, with ‘ice and snow never before seen in this time of the year’.² In the Casa de Campo all the ponds froze. Several Flemish courtiers put on for the court a display of ice-skating, a sport unknown in Spain. Philip, well wrapped up inside his coach, went out to see the skaters, and made the acquaintance of one of them, the newly arrived Jean Lhermite.³ At San Lorenzo some weeks later it snowed during Holy Week. The monks on Palm Sunday could barely carry the palms for the bitter cold....

  17. 11 Last Years 1593–1598
    (pp. 301-316)

    After his return from Tarazona the king’s health was poor and he was patently unable to cope. He made it to San Lorenzo for Holy Week in 1593, and then spent a restful May in Aranjuez. Most of the summer was spent at San Lorenzo. But Philip was seriously ill with the gout. Surgeons had to open two fingers of his right hand to let out the pus.² He could barely write, and could no longer manage the tasks of government. The troika which had been functioning since 1585 was therefore given a new lease of life. Its membership was...

  18. 12 Epilogue
    (pp. 317-321)

    No sooner was the king dead than the criticism and quarrelling began. ‘There was a great division among those who served him, and some began to show their true colours.’¹ Philip had governed for over half a century. Much had changed in that period, and many Spaniards now wished to breathe a different air. There was public mourning, much of it undeniably genuine. Sermons delivered in pulpits throughout the country were full of praise.² One of the late king’s longest-serving ministers, then in Lisbon, could hardly believe the news, even though everybody had been expecting it for months. ‘The news...

  19. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. 322-323)
  20. Notes
    (pp. 324-362)
  21. A Note on Sources
    (pp. 363-368)
  22. Index
    (pp. 369-384)