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King Philip II of Spain
History's King Philip II of Spain.png
Biographical Information
Real Name: Philip II
Title: Philip II of Spain

King of Spain
King of Portugal & the Algarves
King of Naples
Duke of Milan
King of England & Ireland
(Briefly by marriage)

Reign: 16 January 1556 –

13 September 1598

Predecessor: Charles V (Spain)

Lady Jane Grey* (England)
King Edward VI (England)

Successor: Philip III (Spain)

Queen Elizabeth I (England)

Born: 21 May 1527
Death: 13 September 1598
Age: 71
Religion: Roman Catholicism
House: House of Habsburg
Gender: Male Male.png
Originally From: Valladolid, Spain
Parents: Charles V (Father)

Isabella of Portugal (Mother)

Wife: Maria Manuela, Princess of Portugal

Mary Tudor, Queen of England
Elisabeth, Princess of France
Archduchess Anna of Austria

Family: King Henry VIII (Father-in Law)

Queen Catherine (Mother-in Law)
Queen Elizabeth (Sister-in Law)
King Edward VI (Brother-in-Law)

King Henry II (Father-in Law)
Queen Catherine (Mother-in Law)
King Francis II (Brother-in Law)
Princess Claude (Sister-in Law)
Prince Charles (Brother-in Law)
Prince Henry (Brother-in Law)

Children: Prince Don Carlos

Princess Isabela Clara Eugenia
Princess Catherine Michelle
Prince Ferdinand
Prince Charles Laurence
Prince Diego
Princ Philip
Princess Maria

Affiliations: House of Tudor

House of Valois

Burial: El Escorial, Spain
TV Character Information
Signature: King Philip II's Signature.png
First appearance: Pilot
Portrays: King Philip
Portrayed by: Jordan Lee

King Philip II is the oldest son of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. He married Elisabeth, Princess of France as his 3rd wife, after the death of his second, Mary Tudor, Queen of England.


Philip was tutored by Juan Martínez Siliceo and displayed reasonable aptitude in arms and letters alike. Philip, though he had good command over Latin, Spanish and Portuguese, never managed to equal his father, Charles V, as a polyglot. Despite being also a German archduke from the House of Habsburg, Philip was seen as a foreigner in the Holy Roman Empire. The feeling was mutual. Philip felt himself to be culturally Spanish; he had been born and raised in Spain, his native tongue was Spanish, and he preferred to live in Spain.

When Philip was eleven months old, he received the oath of allegiance as heir to the crown from the Cortes of Castile, and from that time until the death of his mother Isabella he was raised in the royal court of Castile under the care of his mother, and one of her Portuguese ladies. 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. These men would serve Philip throughout their lives.

Philip's received martial training, and the practical lessons in warfare was overseen by the Duke of Alba during The Italian Wars. Philip, who had previously been made the Duke of Milan in 1540, began governing the most extensive empire in the world at the young age of sixteen.

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."

King of Spain

After living in the Netherlands in the early years of his reign, Philip II decided to return to Spain.

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. Philip often found his authority over-ruled by local assemblies, and his word less effective than that of local lords.

Philip carried several titles including Prince of Asturias as heir to the Spanish kingdoms and empire. The newest constituent kingdom in the empire was Navarre, a realm invaded by Ferdinand II of Aragon. War across Navarre continued until 1528 when Charles V proposed to end hostilities with King Henry II of Navarre by marrying his son Philip to the heiress, Jeanne of Navarre. The marriage would provide a dynastic solution to instability in Navarre, it would make him king of all Navarre and prince of independent Béarn, as well as lord of a large part of southern France. However, the French nobility under King Francis I opposed the arrangement, and successfully ended the prospects of marriage between the House of Habsburg and Albret in 1541.

Philip II grappled with 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 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 the local resources of his empire. The flow of income from The New World proved vital to his militant foreign policy, but nonetheless, 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.

His father left Philip with a debt of about 36 million ducats, and rising. This debt caused Phillip to default on loans, and lenders had no power over the king and could not force him to repay then. These defaults were just the beginning of Spain's economic troubles as Spain's kings would default 9 times in the next 65 years.

The Italian Wars

Charles V formally abdicated the throne of Naples to Philip on 25 July 1554, and was invested with the kingdom 2 October. 2 years later, 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, 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 in 1558. The resulting Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis in 1559, the France recognised Spanish control over the Franche-Comté, but, more importantly, the treaty also confirmed the direct control of Philip over of all Italy. The Pope was a natural Spanish ally. 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, King 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 King 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. Mary Tudor's death in 1558 enabled Philip to seal the treaty by marrying Henry II's daughter, Princess Elisabeth of Valois, later giving him a claim to the throne of France on behalf of his daughter by Elisabeth, Isabel Clara Eugenia.

King of England

Philip's father arranged his marriage to 37-year-old Queen Mary I of England, Charles V's maternal first cousin. To elevate Philip to Mary's rank, his father made him the King Naples, and gave him his claim to the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Their marriage at Winchester Cathedral on 25 July 1554 took place just two days after their first meeting.

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 honours for as long as their marriage should last. All official documents, including Acts of Parliament, were to be dated with both 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 obliged to provide military support to Charles V in any war. It also stated he "shall aid her Highness ... in the happy administration of her Grace’s realms and dominions." 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.

Acts which made it high treason to deny Philip's royal authority were passed in Ireland and England. Philip and Mary appeared on coins together, with a single crown suspended between them as a symbol of joint reign. During their joint reign, they waged war against France, which resulted in the loss of Calais, England's last remaining possession in France.

Philip's wife had succeeded to the Kingdom of Ireland, but the title of King of Ireland had been created in 1542 by King Henry VIII after he was excommunicated, and so it was not recognised by Catholic monarchs. In 1555, Pope Paul IV rectified this by recognising Philip and Mary as rightful King and Queen of Ireland. King's County and Philipstown in Ireland were named after Philip as King of Ireland the next year.

The couple's joint royal style after Philip ascended the Spanish throne in 1556 was: Philip and Mary, by the Grace of God King and Queen of England, Spain, France, Jerusalem, both the Sicilies and Ireland, Defenders of the Faith, Archdukes of Austria, Dukes of Burgundy, Milan and Brabant, Counts of Habsburg, Flanders and Tirol.

The couple had no children. Mary died in 1558 before the union could revitalise the Roman Catholic Church in England. With her death, Philip lost his rights to the English throne and all affiliations.

Dealings with England

Upon Queen Mary's death, the throne went Queen Elizabeth I. Philip had no wish to sever his tie with England, and had sent a proposal of marriage to Elizabeth. However, she delayed in answering, and in that time learned Philip was also considering a Valois alliance. Elizabeth I was the Protestant daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. This union was deemed illegitimate by English Catholics who did not recognise Henry's divorce and who claimed that Mary, Queen of Scots, the Catholic great-granddaughter of Henry VII, was the legitimate heir to the throne.

For many years Philip maintained peace with England and even defended Elizabeth from the Pope's threat of excommunication. This was a measure taken to preserve a European balance of power. Ultimately, Elizabeth allied England with the Protestant rebels in the Netherlands. Further, English ships began a policy of piracy against Spanish trade and threatened to plunder the great Spanish treasure ships coming from The New World. English ships went so far as to attack a Spanish port. The last straw for Philip was the Treaty of Nonsuch signed by Elizabeth in 1585 – promising troops and supplies to the rebels, Philip considered it an act of war by England.

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.

This Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604) would be fought to a grinding end, but not until both Philip II (d. 1598) and Elizabeth I (d. 1603) 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.

French Wars of Religion

The French Wars of Religion (1562–98) were primarily fought between French Catholics and Protestants. The conflict involved the factional disputes between the aristocratic houses of France, such as the House of Bourbon and House of Guise, and both sides received assistance from foreign sources.

Philip signed the Treaty of Vaucelles with King 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 led to the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis in which France recognised Spanish sovereignty over the Franche-Comté.

Philip financed the Catholic League during The French Wars of Religion. He ordered the Duke of Parma into France in an effort to unseat King Henry IV, and perhaps dreaming of placing his favourite daughter, Isabel Clara Eugenia, on the French throne. Philip's third wife and Isabella's mother Queen Elisabeth had already ceded any claim to the French Crown with her marriage to Philip. However the Parlement de Paris, in power of the Catholic party, gave verdict that Isabella Clara Eugenia was "the legitimate sovereign" of France. Philip's interventions in the fighting – sending the Duke of Parma, to end Henry IV's siege of Paris in 1590 – and the siege of Rouen in 1592 contributed in saving the French Catholic Leagues's cause against a Protestant monarchy.

In 1593, Henry IV 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 IV's propagandists as puppets of a foreign monarch, Philip. In January 1595, Henry IV 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 IV 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 IV, ensuring that Catholicism would remain France's official and majority faith – matters of paramount importance for Catholic king.


Philip died in El Escorial, near Madrid, on 13 September 1598 of cancer, and was succeeded by his son Philip III.


  • Engaged to Queen Jeanne of Navarre for a short time.
  • King Philip II's first wife was his first cousin, Maria Manuela, Princess of Portugal. She was a daughter of Philip's maternal uncle and paternal aunt.
  • Captain John Hawkins is believed to have been an ambassador for Spain, who helped negotiated the marriage between Queen Mary of England and King Philip II of Spain.
  • Captain John Hawkins was personally knighted by King Philip II for that service. He'd often refer to King Philip as "my old master".
  • Philip's second wife was his double first cousin once removed, Mary Tudor, Queen of England.
  • Asked Queen Elizabeth to marry him after her sister, and his wife Queen Mary died, but she declined.
  • His third wife, Elisabeth of France, was a distant relative, descended from their ancestor Alfonso VII.
  • Catherine de' Medici met with King Philip II's chief minister Duke of Alba in hopes of arranging a marriage between Princess Margaret and Philip's son Don Carlos However, Alba refused any consideration of a dynastic marriage.
  • Married Princess Elisabeth who was 14, while he was 35 in 1559.
  • Princess Elisabeth was actually King Philip's third wife, as his first two died of natural causes. They were both said to have been in a very happy marriage, It was noted how Philip would constantly dote on her.
  • King Philip and Queen Elisabeth's had five daughters. However, 3 died before, or during childbirth.
  • Anna of Austria was Philip's fourth and final wife, and was his sororal niece.
  • His father, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor was crowned by Pope Clement VII.
  • His father, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor was responsible for holding King Henry II and his brother, Prince Francis I for 3 years when they were children.
  • King of 7 titles, not including his short time as King of England & Ireland, or his time as King of Portugal.
  • Had 11 children, 6 whom made it to adulthood.

Other Faces of King Philip

Historical Family Tree

Isabella of Portugal
Charles V
Maria Manuela †
King Philip
Queen Elisabeth
Archduchess Maria
Princess Joanna
John of Austria
Don Carlos
Isabella Clara Eugenia
Catherine Michelle

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Pages: Historical Events | Historical References | Historical Timeline |
Kings: King Antoine of Navarre | King Edward of England | King Henry II of France | King Henry VIII of England |
King James V of Scotland | King Francis I of France | King Francis II of France | King Charles IX of France |
King Philip II of Spain |
Queens: Queen Catherine of France | Queen Mary of Scotland | Queen Anne of England | Queen Elizabeth of England | Queen Jane of England | Queen Mary of England | Queen Jeanne of Navarre | Queen Elisabeth of Spain |
Princes: Prince of the Blood, Louis Condé | Price Don Carlos of Spain | Price Henry of France | Prince Henry de Bourbon | Duke Francis of France |
Princesses: Princess Claude of France | Catherine of Aragon | Princess Catherine de Bourbon |
Lords: Robert Dudley | William Cecil | Henry Darnley | Matthew Lennox | Patrick Ruthven
Ladies: Amy Dudley | Mary Boleyn | Mary Fleming | Mary Livingston | Mary Beaton | Mary Seton | Margaret Lennox |
Nobles: Diane de Poitiers | James Stuart | Marie de Guise | Lucrezia de' Medici |
Others: Nostradamus | John Knox | Pope Clement VII |