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Philip II, King of Spain

(1527-1598)

Philip II (1527-1598) king of Spain from 1556, the only son of the Emperor Charles V, born in Valladolid. In 1543 he married the Infanta Mary of Portugal, who died in 1546 giving birth to their ill-fated son, Don Carlos. In 1554 he married Mary I (Mary Tudor) of England, but spent only 14 months in her country, where the marriage was not popular. In 1555-1556 his father Charles V abdicated the sovereignty of Spain, the Netherlands and all Spanish dominions in Italy and the New World to Philip, who nevertheless remained in Flanders until after his father's death in 1558. He supported the Spanish Inquisition, which he saw as a useful instrument both for combating heresy and for extending his control over his own dominions. He was involved in the war against France and the papacy (1557-1559) and, in 1560, against the Turks in the Mediterranean. At home, Philip's government had to meet threats from the Moriscoes (converted Muslims) of Granada, who rebelled in 1568-1570 and, more seriously, from the Netherlands, in open revolt from 1573. In 1579 Spain was unable to prevent the seven United Provinces from gaining their independence. In 1580 Philip succeeded to the Portuguese throne. The increase in trade-revenue from the New World  in the 1480s resulted in a new prosperity and a more confident expansionist policy. Portugal was annexed to Spain in 1580, and attempts to re-conquer the northern Netherlands came close to success. In 1588, the year after Drake's sack of Cadiz, the great Armada was launched against England, which had lent aid to the United Provinces, but failed, when storms wrecked a substantial part of the fleet. Philip died in 1598, leaving his empire divided, demoralized and economically depressed.
See: Titian. Portrait of Philip II in Armor. Portrait of Philip II.
 
 

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