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King Philip the Second of Spain Essay

Born in May 15 1527 to Charles V and Isabella of Portugal, Phillip II went ahead to become one of the greatest kings of his time. Phillip took over the mantle of leadership at a tender age of 16. He was initiated into politics and taught the intricacies of kingship by his father. He was taught the key ideals of leadership which by then were the propagation of absolute rule and the spread of Catholicism. It is these ideals that would represent the core points of his leadership and define his domestic and foreign policies.

Though his rule was marked with numerous accomplishments, most of the historians maintain that he falls into the same category as Hitler and napoleon Bonaparte due to nature of his rule and his complex personality. (Kaiser, 2000, 166) His childhood was like that of children in royal families of his time, it was largely controlled in the preparation of the roles he was to take up in future. Though his father was scarcely present, he ensured that he was well tutored in all aspects especially in politics. His mother died when he was 11 and it was the countless tutors that oriented him into the world of books and languages.

He married in 1543 to his cousin, princess Maria of Portugal and bore a son in 1545, as tragedy would have it though, his wife died in the same year. After a long absence, Phillip reunited with his father in 1549, by then he was well cut to position himself in his father’s shoes. They made a tour to Netherlands meeting with his subjects where he stayed up to 1551 when he came back Spain, the centre of his throne. Gradually, as his father advanced in age, government responsibilities were falling into his hands. He was installed the king of Naples, Sicily, Portugal and Netherlands.

He took over the mantle of leadership of Spain in 1556 upon the demise of his father. He was to establish one of the most powerful reign in the history of the Western Europe and also the largest world empire by then (Prescott, 1986, 74. ). Phillip was deeply religions, but despite this he exercised a leveled leeway to the Protestants. He would have initiated a successful crusade spreading catholic ideals but the falling out with the popes impeded on this. He had his plans focused on establishing a powerful dynasty that would have a hold of Western Europe.

Phillip maintained a well disciplined army under the leadership of the best generals of his time. It is this astute leadership that would secure his successive wins against the French and the Italians. He also established an absolute rule in all the cities that he ruled. It is his engagement in these wars and also the confrontations with England that has led some to describe him as ruthless and highly ambitious. He conquered turkey in 1571 after a defeat of its navy; however this was short-lived as his navy would suffer a debilitating defeat against the English in 1587.

This confrontation had been led by what Phillip believed to be unfavorable policies against Spain by the crown. It is this defeat that would put to a halt the expansionist plans of Phillip, but by then he had accomplished a fete that was only envy to the rest of western Europeans powers. (Potter, Fredland, & Adams, 1981, 13). Phillip ruled at a tumultuous era in the Spain’s economy, he was however able to maintain his grip in power and strengthen the empire through the acquisition of gold.

It was this that would enable him to maintain a strong army, protect and expand his empire. He died on May 13th September 1598 aged 72 years, after a long hold to power and a reign that can in no terms be described as a failure. Bibliography Kaiser, David. Politics and war: European conflict from Philip II to Hitler. Harvard University Press, 2000. Potter E. B. , Fredland R. , Adams H. Sea power: a naval history. Naval Institute Press, 1981. Prescott, William. History of the Reign of Philip the Second, King of Spain: King of Spain. University of California, 1866.


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