« Philemon, Epistle to Philip II Philip IV (Le Bel, 'The Fair) »

Philip II

PHILIP II.: King of Spain, son of the Emperor Charles V. and Isabella of Portugal; b. at Valladolid May 21, 1527; d. at Madrid Sept. 13, 1598. Educated under Dominican rather than Jesuit influence, he perpetuated the Spanish idea of Roman Catholicism that underlay the policy of Ferdinand and Isabella and Cardinal Ximenes, which regarded Roman Catholicism as the only tolerable form of Christianity and as absolutely essential to the political power of Spain. He had no sympathy with the humanistic popes and Curia, and would brook no interference of the papacy with Spanish administration; on the other hand, he insisted upon controlling papal policy. The policy of compromise by which Charles V. had sought to reunify religion throughout his realm had been recognized by himself as ineffective.

Two Chief Aims; Failure in England.

Philip began his reign with the fixed resolve to exterminate Protestantism at whatever cost from every foot of territory that he controlled. Closely connected with this aspect of his policy was a determination to make his own will supreme throughout his vast realm. Protestantism had never been allowed to gain much headway in Spain and he spared no effort or expense to remove every vestige of anticatholicism. With equal severity he dealt with the Moriscoes (professed Moorish converts still Mohammedan at heart) and with converts from Judaism whose sincere devotion to Roman Catholicism was suspected. He married Mary of England (1554) with the twofold object of bringing England under the domination of Spain and of exterminating heresy in the British Isles. He even sought to ingratiate himself with the English people by putting aside his customary moroseness and reserve and assuming an air of friendliness and suavity. His failure to win the hearts of the English, Mary's dissatisfaction with his private life, and the urgent need of his presence at home led to his leaving England forever (Sept., 1555). In 1556 by the abdication of Charles V. he became master of Spain, the Sicilies, the Milanese territory, Franche Comté, the Netherlands, Mexico, and Peru, thus becoming the greatest potentate on earth with seemingly unlimited resources.

His Wars.

He was impatient to begin a crusade against Protestantism in which he sought to enlist all the Roman Catholic sovereigns of Europe, but was shocked by the discovery that the pope had formed an alliance with the king of France and the sultan to deprive him of his Italian possessions. He scrupled at going to war with the pope, but self-interest soon triumphed and he sent the duke of Alva to drive French and papal forces from Sicily and to seize the papal possessions, while he himself administered a severe chastisement to the French at St. Quentin (Aug. 10, 1557) and at Gravelines (Apr. 2, 1559). After the death of Mary of England he sought once more to gain a foothold in England by proposing to marry Elizabeth, her sister and successor. Failing in this project he married Isabella 22of France, daughter of Catharine de Medici, his main object being to bring his influence in favor of Roman Catholicism more powerfully to bear upon France for the destruction of the Huguenots and to prevent French interference with his measures against Evangelical Christianity in the Netherlands. As a preparation for the crusade against Protestantism, which he foresaw to be an undertaking of vast proportions, he began to gather rapidly into the treasury the wealth of his domain, ignoring completely the customary and legal rights of the people. The revolt of the Netherlands and his unsuccessful efforts to suppress it depleted the well-filled treasury and led to extortionate and destructive taxation in Spain, including ecclesiastical foundations. Portugal became his through failure of the direct male line of succession and through a successful military invasion (1580). The pope having bestowed England upon Philip, he undertook to take possession (1588) by sending the armada, a fleet of 131 vessels with 19,000 marines and 8,000 sailors, against a far inferior English fleet. Favoring winds and superior seamanship gave the victory to the English, and Spain was well-nigh swept off the sea. Philip promoted and rejoiced in the massacre of St. Bartholomew's day in France (1572) and, when Henry of Navarre became heir apparent and was contending for the crown, Philip joined forces with the Guises. In the war that followed Philip was worsted and was obliged to sign the treaty of Vervins (May, 1598). By forty years of aggressive warfare, for the destruction of the political enemies of Spain and of the enemies of the Roman Catholic Church, he lost a large part of his hereditary possessions, impoverished and degraded what remained, and at his death (1598) left Spain a secondary power and its people far behind the age in free institutions and in civilization. The inquisition of heresy was with him a favorite occupation, and it was carried on with the utmost cruelty wherever his authority prevailed.

Attitude toward the Papacy.

While he regarded Roman Catholicism as the only valid form of Christianity and was convinced that the toleration of any other form of religion tended toward anarchy or at least toward destruction of monarchy, he was strenuous in resisting anything in papal or conciliar action that could be construed as infringement upon the prerogatives of the Spanish crown. His control of the Inquisition, his right to nominate bishops not only for Spain but also for the Netherlands, the regium exequatur (involving the right of the king to pass upon all papal bulls and briefs before their promulgation in his domains; see Placet), the right of the king to administer and control the affairs of the Hospitalers and other endowed ecclesiastical institutions, he persistently maintained. He exercised a controlling influence over the Council of Trent (1556 onward) and his representatives were keen to detect and mighty to defeat any ordinance that trenched upon the rights of the Spanish crown. The conciliar provision for episcopal visitation of the chapters of the monastic orders he resolutely and effectively opposed, as well as the council's proposed arrangement for provincial and diocesan synods. He greatly promoted the progress of the monastic orders, especially the Dominicans, Franciscans, the order founded by St. Peter Nolasco (see Nolasco), and Jesuits, and encouraged the multiplication of their establishments in Spain and the colonies. He took the keenest interest in papal elections and virtually insisted upon his right to nominate to the papal office or at least to defeat all candidates whom he disapproved. He promoted the Jesuit school at Douai for the education of Roman Catholic missionaries for England.

Apart from his single-minded devotion to the maintenance and extension of the authority of the Spanish crown and the universal prevalence of the Roman Catholic religion, Philip had few of the qualities that mark a great ruler or statesman. He was egoistic, unsympathetic, cruel (the loss of tens of thousands of troops seems to have affected him only as a diminution of the resources available for the accomplishment of his purposes, and he frequently was present in person at the burning of heretics), taciturn, morose, distrustful, and reserved.

A. H. Newman.

Bibliography: A rich list of literature is furnished in the British Museum Catalogue. For English readers the best works directly on the subject are: W. H. Prescott, Hist. of the Reign of Philip II., many editions, e.g., in his Complete Works, Boston, 1905 (a classic); M. A. S. Hume, Philip II. of Spain, London, 1897; idem, Spain, its Greatness and Decay, ib. 1898; idem, Two English Queens and Philip, ib. 1908. Further accounts of the life and reign of Philip are: C. Campana, 2 parts, Venice, 1605–09; G. Leti, 2 parts, Coligni, 1679; Robert Watson, 2 vols., London, 1808; A. Dumesnil, Hist. de Philippe II., Paris, 1822; E. San Miguel y Valledor, 4 vols., Madrid, 1844–1847; F. A. M. Mignet, Antonio Perez and Philip II., London, 1846; C. Gayarré, New York, 1866; R. Baumstark, Freiburg, 1875; V. Gomez, Madrid, 1879; H. Forneron, 4 vols., Paris, 1881–82; W. W. Norman, New York, 1898. Consult also more general works, such as: Cambridge Modern History, vol. iii., London and New York, 1905; S. A. Durham, Hist. of Spain and Portugal, 5 vols., London, 1832 (the best general history in English); M. W. Freer, Elizabeth de Valois, 2 vols., London, 1857; F. W. Schirrmacher, Geschichte von Spanien, 6 vols.. Gotha, 1893; H. Watts, Spain, New York, 1893; C. A. Wilkens, Spanish Protestants in the 16th Century, New York, 1897; J. L. Motley, The Rise of the Dutch Republic, ed. Bell, London, 1904; H. C. Lea, Hist. of the Inquisition of Spain, 4 vols., New York, 1906–07; Robinson, European History, ii. 168 sqq. Illustrative original documents are cited in Reich, Documents, pp. 593 sqq., and in Gee and Hardy, Documents, pp. 384 sqq.

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