Royal Anniversary: Death of Philip II of Spain

  September 13, 2012 at 10:23 pm by

On September 13th, 1598, King Philip II of Spain died at the Monasterio de El Escorial outside Madrid after a lengthy reign. Philip II held many titles: he was King of Castile, Aragon, Navarre, Majorca, Portugal, Sardinia and Naples, Duke of Milan, Burgundy, Lothier, Brabant, Limburg, Luxemburg and Lord of the Netherlands.

King Philip II of Spain

Philip was born on May 21st, 1527, the only son of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, and his consort, Isabella of Portugal. Philip also had two sisters with whom he was very close – Joanna and Maria of Austria. From an early age, Philip was groomed by experienced advisors and in 1543, he was made Regent of Spain by his father. The same year he married Maria Manuela of Portugal, but sadly she died in 1545.

Philip then moved to the Low Countries, where his aunt, Maria of Hungary, acted as Imperial Regent. In July 1554, Philip married his cousin, Mary I of England, and was also elevated by his father, who ceded him the Kingdom of Naples and made him King of that realm. In October 1556, Emperor Charles V abdicated and ceded all of the Spanish lands – Sicily, Naples, Milan and the Netherlands – to his son. Queen Mary died childless in November 1558 and was succeeded by her half-sister, Elizabeth I.

King Philip married for a third time in July 1559, to Elisabéth de Valois, the daughter of Henri II of France and Catherine de Médici. Philip II returned to Spain in 1559 and pursued a pro-Catholic foreign policy, as he was greatly alarmed at the rise of Protestantism in both France and England. He also had to deal with the two capricious Queens of both England and France, a revolt in the Netherlands and then, a revolt by the Morisco population in Spain.

During the 1560s, Spanish colonies were founded in the East Indies, the Philippines Islands were named in his honour. Queen Elisabeth died in October 1568 and Philip married his niece, Anna of Austria, in 1570. In October 1571, the Ottoman Fleet was defeated at the Battle of Lepanto by the Holy League which was commanded by Philip’s half-brother, Don Juan of Austria. Philip was elected King of Portugal in 1580 following the death of the childless King Henry. Philip also supported the ultra-Catholic House of Guise during the French Wars of Religion.

For many years, peace was maintained between Spain and England, but with Elizabeth I’s intervention in the Dutch revolt, war broke out and Philip used the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots as a pretext to invade England and depose Elizabeth I. His invasion fleet, the Spanish Armada, was defeated and scattered in 1588. Philip then backed the Catholic Irish and their leader, Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone during the Irish revolts against Queen Elizabeth’s rule. The Nine Years War which ensued came very close to bankrupting the English exchequer, and war also broke out between France and Spain.

Towards the end of his reign, the Spanish Empire of Philip II had reached its peak and he was the most powerful ruler of his era. His Empire included vast lands in Europe, the New World and territories in the East.

King Philip II died in 1598 after a long illness and he was succeeded by his only surviving son, Philip III.

Filed under Historical Royals, Spain
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2 Responses to Royal Anniversary: Death of Philip II of Spain

  1. Lady Daphne says:

    I can’t really comment on Phillip II, but I’m sure he’s been portrayed in many movies and books about that period. I’m an opera fan and I love the opera “Don Carlo”, based on the tragic story of Don Carlo. An Ard Ri, can you tell us about this?? Also I believe it was Carlo III, who sent his troops to settle Mexico and the west coast of the U.S. (now California), where Father Serra founded the missions that still exist today. This is fun!!

  2. James Canning says:

    Very interesting! I recommend (Dr.) Peter Pierson’s biography of Philip II.

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