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King Philip II (Spain) Autographs, Memorabilia & Collectibles

Born: May 21, 1527 in Valladolid, Spain
Died: September 13, 1598 in El Escorial, Spain
Biography | show moreshow less
Philip II, in Spanish Felipe II (1527-1598) was born at Palace of Pimentel in Valladolid, Spain to King Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire and his wife Isabella of Portugal. The culture and courtly life of Spain were an important influence in his early life. He was tutored by the future Archbishop of Toledo, Juan Martínez Siliceo. In April 1528, when Philip was eleven months old, he received the oath of allegiance as heir to the crown from the Cortes, and from that time until the death of his mother Isabella in 1539, Philip was raised in the royal court of Castile under the care of her and one of her Portuguese ladies, Doña Leonor de Mascarenhas, to whom he was devotedly attached. Philip was also close to his two sisters, María and Juana and to his two pages, the Portuguese nobleman Rui Gomes da Silva and Luis de Requesens, the son of his governor Juan de Zúñiga. They would serve Philip throughout their lives, as would Antonio Pérez, his secretary from 1541. Philip displayed reasonable aptitude in arms and letters alike and later he studied with more illustrious tutors, including the humanist Juan Cristóbal Calvete de Estrella. Philip also had good knowledge of Latin, Spanish and Portuguese. Despite being also a German archduke from the House of Habsburg, Philip was seen as a foreigner in the Holy Roman Empire and the feeling was mutual because the king felt himself to be culturally Spanish; he had been born in Spain and raised in the Castilian court, his native tongue was Spanish, and he preferred to live in Spain. This would ultimately impede his succession to the imperial throne. Philip's martial training was undertaken by his governor, Juan de Zúñiga, a Castilian nobleman who served as the mayor commander of Castile. The practical lessons in warfare were overseen by the Duke of Alba during the Italian Wars. Philip was present at the Siege of Perpignan in 1542, but did not see action as the Spanish army under Alba decisively defeated the besieging French forces under the Dauphin of France. On his way back to Castile, Philip received the oath of allegiance of the Cortes of Aragon at Monzón. His political training had begun a year previously under his father, who had found his son studious grave and prudent beyond his years, and having decided to train and initiate him in the government of Spain. The king-emperor's interactions with his son during his stay in Spain convinced him of Philip's precocity in statesmanship, and so he determined to leave in his hands the regency of Spain in 1543. Philip, who had previously been made the Duke of Milan in 1540, began governing the most extensive empire in the world at the age of sixteen. King Charles V left Philip with experienced advisors-notably the secretary Francisco de los Cobos and the general Duke of Alba. Philip was also left with extensive written instructions which emphasized "piety, patience, modesty, and distrust." These principles of Charles were gradually assimilated by his son, who would grow up to become grave, self-possessed and cautious. Personally, Philip spoke softly and had an icy self-mastery; in the words of one of his ministers, "he had a smile that cut like a sword."After living in the Netherlands in the early years of his reign, Philip II decided to return to Spain. Although sometimes described as an absolute monarch, Philip faced many constitutional constraints on his authority. This was largely influenced by the growing strength of the bureaucracy during Philip's reign. The Spanish Empire was not a single monarchy with one legal system but a federation of separate realms, each jealously guarding its own rights against those of the House of Habsburg. In practice, Philip often found his authority over-ruled by local assemblies, and his word less effective than that of local lords. Philip carried several titles as heir to the Spanish kingdoms and empire. On his will Charles stated his doubts over Navarre and recommended his son to give the kingdom back. Both King Charles and his son Philip II failed to abide by the elective (contractual) nature of the Crown of Navarre, and took the kingdom for granted. This sparked mounting tension not only with King Henry II of Navarre and Queen Jeanne III of Navarre, but with the Parliament of the Spanish Navarre (Cortes, The Three States) and the Diputación for breach of the realm specific laws (fueros) was a violation of the pactum subjectionis as ratified by Ferdinand. Tensions in Navarre came to a head in 1592 after several years of disagreements over the agenda of the intended parliamentary session. Philip II also faced the problem of the large Morisco population in Spain, who were sometimes forcibly converted to Christianity by his predecessors. In 1569, the Morisco Revolt broke out in the southern province of Granada in defiance of attempts to suppress Moorish customs, and Philip ordered the expulsion of the Moriscos from Granada and their dispersal to other provinces. Despite its immense dominions, Spain was a country with a sparse population that yielded a limited income to the crown (in contrast to France, for example, which was much more heavily populated). Philip faced major difficulties in raising taxes, the collection of which was largely farmed out to local lords. He was able to finance his military campaigns only by taxing and exploiting the local resources of his empire. The flow of income from the New World proved vital to his militant foreign policy, but nonetheless his exchequer several times faced bankruptcy. Philip's reign saw a flourishing of cultural excellence in Spain, the beginning of what is called the Golden Age, creating a lasting legacy in literature, music, and the visual arts. Philip's foreign policies were determined by a combination of Catholic fervor and dynastic objectives. He considered himself the chief defender of Catholic Europe, both against the Ottoman Turks and against the forces of the Protestant Reformation. He never relented from his fight against heresy, defending the Catholic faith and limiting freedom of worship within his territories. These territories included his patrimony in the Netherlands, where Protestantism had taken deep root. Following the Revolt of the Netherlands in 1568, Philip waged a campaign against Dutch heresy and secession. It also dragged in the English and the French at times and expanded into the German Rhineland with the Cologne War. This series of conflicts lasted for the rest of his life. Philip's constant involvement in European wars took a significant toll on the treasury and played a huge role in leading the Crown into economic difficulties and even bankruptcies. In 1588, the English defeated Philip's Spanish Armada, thwarting his planned invasion of the country to reinstate Catholicism. But the war continued for the next sixteen years, in a complex series of struggles that included France, Ireland and the main battle zone, the Low Countries. It would not end until all the leading protagonists, including him, had died. Earlier, however, after several setbacks in his reign and especially that of his father, Philip did achieve a decisive victory against the Turks at the Lepanto in 1571, with the allied fleet of the Holy League, which he had put under the command of his illegitimate brother, John of Austria. He also successfully secured his succession to the throne of Portugal. With regard to Philip's overseas possessions, in response to the reforms imposed by the "Ordenanzas", extensive questionnaires were distributed to every major town and region in New Spain called "relaciones geográficas". These surveys helped the Spanish monarchy to more effectively govern these overseas conquests. Charles V formally abdicated the throne of Naples to Philip in July 25, 1554, and the young king was invested with the kingdom (officially called "Naples and Sicily") in October by Pope Julius III. The date of Charles' abdication of the throne of Sicily is uncertain, but Philip was invested with this kingdom (officially "Sicily and Jerusalem") on 18 November 1554 by Julius. In 1556, Philip decided to declare war in the Papal States and temporarily gobbled up territory there, perhaps in response to Pope Paul IV's anti-Spanish outlook. According to Philip II, he was doing it for the benefit of the Church. Philip led Spain into the final phase of the Italian Wars. The Spanish army decisively defeated the French at St. Quentin in 1557 and at Gravelines in 1558. The resulting Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis in 1559 secured Piedmont, Savoy, and Corsica for the Spanish allied states, the Duchy of Savoy and the Republic of Genoa. France recognized Spanish control over the Franche-Comté, but more importantly, the treaty also confirmed the direct control of Philip over Milan, Naples, Sicily, Sardinia and the State of Presidi, and indirectly (through his dominance of the rulers of Tuscany, Genoa, and other minor states) of all Italy. The Pope was a natural Spanish ally. The only truly independent entities on Italian soil were the allied Duchy of Savoy and the Republic of Venice. Spanish control of Italy would last until the early eighteenth century. Ultimately, the treaty ended the 60-year, Franco-Spanish wars for supremacy in Italy. By the end of the wars in 1559, Habsburg Spain had been established as the premier power of Europe, to the detriment of France. In France, Henry II was fatally wounded in a joust held during the celebrations of the peace. His death led to the accession of his 15-year-old son Francis II, who in turn soon died. The French monarchy was thrown into turmoil, which increased further with the outbreak of the French Wars of Religion that would last for several decades. The states of Italy were reduced to second-rate powers and Milan and Naples were annexed directly to Spain. Mary Tudor's death in 1558 enabled Philip to seal the treaty by marrying Henry II's daughter, Elisabeth of Valois, later giving him a claim to the throne of France on behalf of his daughter by Elisabeth, Isabel Clara Eugenia. The French Wars of Religion (1562-1598) were primarily fought between French Catholics and Protestants (Huguenots). The conflict involved the factional disputes between the aristocratic houses of France, such as the House of Bourbon and House of Guise (Lorraine), and both sides received assistance from foreign sources. Philip signed the Treaty of Vaucelles with Henry II of France in 1556. Based on the terms of the treaty, the territory of the Franche-Comté was to be relinquished to Philip. However, the treaty was broken shortly afterwards. France and Spain waged war in northern France and Italy over the following years. Spanish victory at St. Quentin and Gravelines led to the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis in which France recognized Spanish sovereignty over the Franche-Comté. During the War of the Portuguese Succession the pretender António fled to France following his defeats and, as Philip's armies had not yet occupied the Azores, he sailed there with a large Anglo-French fleet under Filippo Strozzi, a Florentine exile in the service of France. The naval Battle of Terceira took place on  July 26, 1582 in the sea near the Azores of  São Miguel Island, as part of the War of the Portuguese Succession and the -Anglo-Spanish War (15851604). The Spanish navy defeated the combined Anglo-French fleet that had sailed to preserve control of the Azores under Antonio. The French naval contingent was the largest French force sent overseas before the age of Louis XIV. The Spanish victory at Terceira was followed by the Battle of the Azores between the Portuguese loyal to the claimant António, supported by French and English troops, and the Spanish-Portuguese forces loyal to Philip commanded by the admiral Don Álvaro de Bazán. Victory in Azores completed the incorporation of Portugal into the Spanish Empire. Philip financed the Catholic League during the French Wars of Religion. He directly intervened in the final phases of the wars (1589-1598), ordering the Duke of Parma into France in an effort to unseat Henry IV and perhaps dreaming of placing his favorite daughter, Isabel Clara Eugenia, on the French throne. In 1593, Henry agreed to convert to Catholicism; weary of war, most French Catholics switched to his side against the hardline core of the Catholic League, who were portrayed by Henry's propagandists as puppets of a foreign monarch, Philip. By the end of 1594 certain League members were still working against Henry across the country, but all relied on the support of Spain. In January 1595, therefore, Henry officially declared war on Spain, to show Catholics, that Philip was using religion as a cover for an attack on the French state, and Protestants, that he had not become a puppet of Spain through his conversion, while hoping to take the war to Spain and make territorial gain.The 1598 Treaty of Vervins was largely a restatement of the 1559 Peace of Câteau-Cambrésis and Spanish forces and subsidies were withdrawn; meanwhile, Henry issued the Edict of Nantes, which offered a high degree of religious toleration for French Protestants. The military interventions in France thus ended in an ironic fashion for Philip: they had failed to oust Henry from the throne or suppress Protestantism in France and yet they had played a decisive part in helping the French Catholic cause gain the conversion of Henry, ensuring that Catholicism would remain France's official and majority faith. In the early part of his reign Philip was concerned with the rising power of the Ottoman Empire under Suleiman the Magnificent. Fear of Islamic domination in the Mediterranean caused him to pursue an aggressive foreign policy. In 1558, Turkish admiral Piyale Pasha captured the Balearic Islands, especially inflicting great damage on Minorca and enslaving many, while raiding the coasts of the Spanish mainland. Philip appealed to the Pope and other powers in Europe to bring an end to the rising Ottoman threat. Since his father's losses against the Ottomans and against Hayreddin Barbarossa in 1541, the major European sea powers in the Mediterranean, namely Spain and Venice, became hesitant in confronting the Ottomans. The myth of "Turkish invincibility" was becoming a popular story, causing fear and panic among the people. In 1560, Philip II organized a Holy League between Spain and the Republic of Venice, the Republic of Genoa, the Papal States, the Duchy of Savoy and the Knights of Malta. The joint fleet was assembled at Messina and consisted of 200 ships carrying a total of 30,000 soldiers under the command of Giovanni Andrea Doria, nephew of the famous Genoese admiral Andrea Doria. On March 12, 1560, the Holy League captured the island of Djerba which had a strategic location and could control the sea routes between Algiers and Tripoli. As a response, Suleiman the Magnificent sent an Ottoman fleet of 120 ships under the command of Piyale Pasha, which arrived at Djerba on May 9, 1560. The battle lasted until 14 May 1560, and the forces of Piyale Pasha and Turgut Reis had an overwhelming victory at the Battle of Djerba. The Holy League lost 60 ships (30 galleys) and 20,000 men, and Giovanni Andrea Doria was barely able to escape with a small vessel. The Ottomans retook the Fortress of Djerba, whose Spanish commander, D. Álvaro de Sande, attempted to escape with a ship but was followed and eventually captured by Turgut Reis. In 1565 the Ottomans sent a large expedition to Malta, which laid siege to several forts on the island, taking some of them. The Spanish sent a relief force, which finally drove the Ottoman army out of the island. The grave threat posed by the increasing Ottoman domination of the Mediterranean was reversed in one of history's most decisive battles, with the destruction of nearly the entire Ottoman fleet at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, by the Holy League under the command of Philip's half-brother, Don Juan of Austria. A fleet sent by Philip, again commanded by Don John, reconquered Tunis from the Ottomans in 1573. However, the Turks soon rebuilt their fleet and in 1574 Uluç Ali Reis managed to recapture Tunis with a force of 250 galleys and a siege which lasted 40 days. However, Lepanto marked a permanent reversal in the balance of naval power in the Mediterranean and the end of the threat of Ottoman control. In 1585 a peace treaty was signed with the Ottomans. Philip's rule in the seventeen separate provinces known collectively as the Netherlands faced many difficulties; this led to open warfare in 1568. He insisted on direct control over events in the Netherlands despite being over two weeks' ride away in Madrid. There was discontent in the Netherlands about Philip's taxation demands. In 1566, Protestant preachers sparked anti-clerical riots known as the Iconoclast Fury; in response to growing Protestant influence, the Duke of Alba's army went on the offensive, further alienating the local aristocracy. In 1572 a prominent exiled member of the Dutch aristocracy, William the Silent (Prince of Orange), invaded the Netherlands with a Protestant army, but he only succeeded in holding two provinces, Holland and Zeeland. The war continued. The States General of the northern provinces, united in the 1579 Union of Utrecht, passed an Act of Abjuration declaring that they no longer recognized Philip as their king. The southern Netherlands (what is now Belgium and Luxembourg) remained under Spanish rule. In 1584, William the Silent was assassinated by Balthasar Gérard, after Philip had offered a reward of 25,000 crowns to anyone who killed him, calling him a "pest on the whole of Christianity and the enemy of the human race". The Dutch forces continued to fight on under Orange's son Maurice of Nassau, who received modest help from Queen Elizabeth I in 1585. The Dutch gained an advantage over the Spanish because of their growing economic strength, in contrast to Philip's burgeoning economic troubles. The war, known as the Eighty Years' War, only came to an end in 1648, when the Dutch Republic was recognized by Spain as independent. In 1578 young king Sebastian of Portugal died at the Battle of Alcácer Quibir without descendants, triggering a succession crisis. His uncle, the elderly Cardinal Henry, succeeded him as King, but Henry also had no descendants, having taken holy orders. When the Cardinal-King died two years after Sebastian's disappearance, three grandchildren of Manuel I claimed the throne: Infanta Catarina, Duchess of Braganza, António, Prior of Crato and Philip II of Spain. António was acclaimed King of Portugal in many cities and towns throughout the country, but members of the Council of Governors of Portugal who had supported Philip escaped to Spain and declared him to be the legal successor of Henry. Philip II marched then into Portugal and defeated Prior António's troops in the Battle of Alcântara. The troops commanded by the 3rd Duke of Alba imposed subjection to Philip before entering Lisbon, where he seized an immense treasure. Philip II of Spain was crowned Philip I of Portugal in 1581 (recognized as king by the Portuguese Cortes) and a sixty-year personal union under the rule of the Philippine Dynasty began. When Philip left for Madrid in 1583, he made his nephew Albert of Austria his viceroy in Lisbon. In Madrid he established a Council of Portugal to advise him on Portuguese affairs, giving excellent positions to Portuguese nobles in the Spanish courts, and allowing Portugal to maintain autonomous law, currency, and government. Philip's father arranged his marriage to 37-year old Queen Mary I of England, Charles' maternal first cousin. To elevate Philip to Mary's rank, his father ceded the crown of Naples, as well as his claim to the Kingdom of Jerusalem, to him. Their marriage at Winchester Cathedral on July 25, 1554 took place just two days after their first meeting. Philip's view of the affair was entirely political. Lord Chancellor Gardiner and the House of Commons petitioned Mary to consider marrying an Englishman, preferring Edward Courtenay. Under the terms of the Act for the Marriage of Queen Mary to Philip of Spain, Philip was to enjoy Mary I's titles and honors for as long as their marriage should last. All official documents, including Acts of Parliament were to be dated with both of their names, and Parliament was to be called under the joint authority of the couple. Coins were also to show the heads of both Mary and Philip. The marriage treaty also provided that England would not be obligated to provide military support to Philip's father in any war. The Privy Council instructed that Philip and Mary should be joint signatories of royal documents, and this was enacted by an Act of Parliament, which gave him the title of king and stated that he "shall aid her Highness ... in the happy administration of her Grace's realms and dominions." In other words, Philip was to co-reign with his wife. As the new King of England could not read English, it was ordered that a note of all matters of state should be made in Latin or Spanish. Philip's wife had succeeded to the Kingdom of Ireland, but the title of King of Ireland had been created in 1542 by Henry VIII after he was excommunicated, and so it was not recognized by Catholic monarchs. In 1555, Pope Paul IV rectified this by issuing a papal bull recognizing Philip and Mary as rightful King and Queen of Ireland. King's County and 'Philips town in Ireland were named after Philip as King of Ireland in 1556. However, the couple had no children. Mary died in 1558 before the union could revitalize the Roman Catholic Church in England. With her death, Philip lost his rights to the English throne and ceased to be King of England, Ireland and France. Upon Mary's death, the throne went to Elizabeth I, and for many years Philip maintained peace with England, and even defended Elizabeth from the Pope's threat of excommunication. The execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1587 ended Philip's hopes of placing a Catholic on the English throne. He turned instead to more direct plans to invade England, with vague plans to return the country to Catholicism. In 1588, he sent a fleet, the Spanish Armada, to rendezvous with the Duke of Parma's army and convey it across the English Channel. However, the operation had little chance of success from the beginning, because of lengthy delays, lack of communication between Philip II and his two commanders and the lack of a deep bay for the fleet. At the point of attack, a storm struck the English Channel, already known for its harsh currents and choppy waters, which devastated large numbers of the Spanish fleet. There was a tightly fought battle against the English navy; it was by no means a slaughter, but the Spanish were forced into a retreat, and the overwhelming majority of the Armada was destroyed by the harsh weather. Eventually, three more Armadas were assembled; two were sent to England in 1596 and 1597, but both also failed; the third (1599) was diverted to the Azores and Canary Islands to fend off raids. This -Anglo-Spanish War would be fought to a grinding end, but not until both Philip II and Elizabeth I were dead. The defeat of the Spanish Armada gave great heart to the Protestant cause across Europe. The storm that smashed the Armada was seen by many of Philip's enemies as a sign of the will of God. Many Spaniards blamed the admiral of the Armada for its failure, but Philip, despite his complaint that he had sent his ships to fight the English, not the elements, was not among them. The Spanish navy was rebuilt, and intelligence networks were improved. A measure of the character of Philip can be gathered by the fact that he personally saw to it that the wounded men of the Armada were treated and received pensions, and that the families of those who died were compensated for their loss, which was highly unusual for the time. While the invasion had been averted, England was unable to take advantage of this success. An attempt to use her newfound advantage at sea with a counter armada the following year failed disastrously. Likewise, English buccaneering and attempts to seize territories in the Caribbean were defeated by Spain's rebuilt navy and their improved intelligence networks. Philip II died in El Escorial, near Madrid, on 13 September 1598 of cancer, after several weeks of intense suffering and pain. He was succeeded by his son Philip III. King Philip II was described by the Venetian ambassador Paolo Fagolo in 1563 as "slight of stature and round-faced, with pale blue eyes, somewhat prominent lip, and pink skin, but his overall appearance is very attractive." The Ambassador went on to say "He dresses very tastefully, and everything that he does is courteous and gracious".

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