The reign of PHILIP II


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PHILIP II (1556 – 1598) Philip II of Spain and his parents

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He inherited his father’s imperial vision; besides, his empire became larger with the incorporation of Portugal and its territories. Philip’s empire had territories all over the world. He was a die-hard defender of Catholicism and did his best to avoid the spread of Protestantism.

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The Empire on which the sun never sets

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In spite of the wealth of his empire, the riches coming from America were not well exploited. The priviledged, the nobility and the clergy, did not invest in fruitful activities. The country was indebted to foreign bankers and went bankrupt.

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The end of the wars against France Rivalry between France and Spain had not diminished over the years.

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Philip’s troops, commanded by Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, accomplished crucial victories in Saint Quentin (1556) and Gravelines (1558). Thus Henry II of France had to sign the Treaty of Cateau – Cambresis. Victory of St Quentin

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The Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial was built to commemorate the victory of Saint Quentin. El Escorial. A view of the Royal Site French-Spanish peace

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To consolidate peace, Philip married Elisabeth of Valois, Henry II’s daughter. From that moment onwards, both kingdoms joined forces to restore Catholicism and avoid the spread of Calvinism in France and the Netherlands. Elisabeth of Valois Isabella Clara Eugenia and Catherine Michelle, Philip and Elisabeth’s daughters

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Rebellion of the Alpujarras The rebels were Moriscos, descendants of mudéjares forcibly converted into Catholicism, who still kept their traditions and beliefs.

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Fearing they allied with the Ottoman Empire, Philip enacted the Pragmatic Sanction of 1567. The Sanction forbade the use of their language, their clothes, Turkish baths, Friday prayers and rituals, etc.

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Moriscos, commanded by Aben Humeya, stirred up in the Alpujarras (1568). The rebellion was put down by John of Austria.

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John of Austria was the illegitimate son of Charles V and Barbara Blomberg. As a military leader, he became extremely helpful for his half-brother Philip.

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Moriscos were expelled from the Kingdom of Granada. John described the scenes of forced exile as the greatest human misery that can be portrayed.

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The annexation of Portugal (1581) The Catholic Monarchs’ marriage policy aiming at gaining allies and annexing territories culminated with Philip II. As Philip’s mother was Isabella of Portugal, when the Portuguese king, Sebastian, died without an heir, he claimed the Portuguese crown.

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He sent the Duke of Alba and his troops to Portugal to confront one of the candidates, Antonio, Prior of Crato. Duke of Alba

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The Portuguese troops were defeated and the Portuguese Courts of Tomar recognised Philip as the king of Portugal and its Empire. He allowed Portugal to maintain autonomous law, customs and government. The union spanned almost six decades, until 1640.

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Ottoman-Habsburg Wars. Lepanto The rising power of the Ottoman Empire under Suleiman the Magnificent in the Mediterranean led to the creation of the Holy League, integrated by Spain, Venice and Pope Pius V. Titian. Spain Succoring Religion at the Battle of Lepanto 1572-75

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The Spanish fleet commanded by John of Austria defeated the Ottomans in Lepanto (Greece). It was not a permanent victory, but it put an end to the threat of Ottoman control in the Mediterranean. Spanish victory in Lepanto, 1571

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Ottoman Empire, Selim II Philip II John of Austria

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Philip’s moves in Europe were channelled to the defence of Catholicism. For six months, he was married with Mary Tudor, Catholic Queen of England.

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The Low Countries The Netherlands were part of Charles V’s legacy to Philip. During his reign, he had to cope with two problems: The spread of Protestantism in the region. The refusal of Flemish inhabitants to be ruled by a foreign king. Wars against Protestants in the Low Countries

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The religious and political repression carried out by the House of Habsburg provoked the uprising of 1556. On the one hand, Catholic nobles requested more freedom and demanded lower taxes; on the other hand, Calvinists demanded freedom of worship. Religious cism brought along religious wars between Catholics and Protestants in Germany, France and The Low Countries. Spanish regiment in Flanders

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Philip II sent the Duke of Alba to put out the revolt. The latter instituted the Council of Troubles, and defetead the troops of the Protestant William of Orange.

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Charicature of the Duke of Alba crushing heresy in The Low Countries

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Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, the third Duke of Alba

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Ringleaders were severely punished, but this did not stop the bourgueoise from stirring up. Moreover, Catholic and Protestant noblemen joined forces against the Spanish king.

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The calvinists of the northern provinces united in the Union of Utrecht. Thanks to William of Orange, they achieved more independence.

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Philip appointed his daughter Isabella Clara Eugenia sovereign of the Spanish Netherlands in the Low Countries. The reign of Isabella and her husband, Albert VII of Austria, brought peace and stability.

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England and the Spanish Armada When Elizabeth I succeeded her half-sister, Mary Tudor, in the throne of England, relations between Spain and England deteriorated because she restored Protestantism.

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What is more, Elizabeth protected pirates such as Francis Drake or John Hawkins, who attacked and sacked Castilian ships.

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Elizabeth supported Flemish Protestants whereas Philip helped Mary Stuart, the Catholic Queen of Scots.

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When the English beheaded Mary, Philip decided to take action. A powerful fleet of 130 ships was prepared. It was set out to invade England under the command of Álvaro de Bazán, the Marquis of Santa Cruz.

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Bazán died unexpectedly, and the Duke of Medina Sidonia took his place.

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The Spanish ships could not defeat the English, the latter being lighter and of easier manoeuvrability. While the fleet was coming back to Spain, a violent gale destroyed most of the ships (1558), and only one third of the men survived.

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Fights against the Huguenots The French Wars of Religion spanned more than three decades (1562 -1598). They were fought between Roman Catholics and French Protestants called Huguenots.

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Philip supported French Catholics. Besides, he wanted his daughter Isabella Clara Eugenia to claim the French crown because the other candidate Henry of Navarra was a Calvinist. Nevertheless, Henry converted to Catholicism and came to the throne as Henry IV of France.

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Henry was the first of the House of Bourbon in France. He issued the Edict of Nantes, wich granted the Calvinists substantial rights in the nation. The Edict of Nantes

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