Philip II


One of the most important and commented kings in the history of Spain, Castile, Sicily, Naples, Aragon and Navarre, the Netherlands, Portugal, the Philippines, Mozambique, Oran, the Viceroyalties of New Spain, Peru, Brazil and even of Ireland and king consort of England was Felipe II.


Personal information

  • When was he born: 05/21/1527
  • Where he was born: Valladolid, Spain
  • When he died: 09/13/1598
  • Where he died: El Escorial, Spain

Who was Felipe II?

Felipe II was a king of Spain considered one of the greatest sovereigns that have existed in the history of Spain in terms of leading global exploration and the expansion of colonies across the Atlantic and Pacific.

  • What did Felipe II do
  • Biography of Philip II
  • Death
  • Reign of Philip II
  • Physical characteristics
  • Personality
  • Parents
  • Relations
  • Sons
  • Successor
  • Which dynasty did he belong to
  • Importance of Philip II
  • Phrases
  • Curiosities
  • Presence in popular culture

What did Felipe II do

During his reign, Felipe II managed to extend his empire to practically all continents , thus creating one of the largest emporiums known to date and reconfiguring the political map of the world. It was an imperial project that caused a great deal of damage in the lives of many around the New World, as Felipe II seized the lands , the gold and destroyed all the cultural heritage, forcing its inhabitants even to convert to theChristianity .

Biography of Philip II

Felipe II was born on May 21 of the year 1527 in the city of Valladolid . He was an only child and as a child he received education from Roman Catholic clergymen , an education that also determined his way of being as king. He was fond of music and liked to read classical works. He was a boy very close to his mother but she died due to a spontaneous abortion when Felipe was twelve years old.

During his adolescence, he remained attached to religion and used much of his free time hunting and falconry . Due to this, his father decides to make a change in his teaching and begins to educate him about Humanism . This is how his tutor Calvete de Estrella came to the life of Felipe , he also learned architecture , history , mathematics and geography . He learned languages ​​like Hebrew , Greek, and Aramaic , even getting a Koran to study grammar.

In the year 1543 , when he was only sixteen years old, he was appointed as governor of Aragon and Castile and that same year, he received important instructions that would mark his life; always maintain conscience , never promise things in exchange for others, keep God above business and control the power he gave to his helpers, in addition to listening to everyone before speaking . His father lasted 13 years away from him and when he returned, he was already a prince who had begun to rule.


Felipe II suffered from an attack of fever in the month of May of the year 1595 and before this, the doctors did not give much hope of life. After winning the battle of San Quentin, he marched to Madrid on June 30, 1598 , this trip he did sitting in a chair that had been designed for him because he could no longer walk due to the disease called gout . He died at dawn on September 13, 1598 when he was 71 years old.

Reign of Philip II

As King of Spain , Felipe II took office at the age of 29 and was also named King Consort of England because he had married María Tudor. Many battles occurred while he was king, all of them with a single objective, to extend all the domains of the Crown . Being a fervent Catholic , he dedicated himself during his reign to combat the spread of the Protestant Reformation in Europe in order to form a Christian empire in the world.

He won the battle of Lepanto against the Turks and managed to extend the territories incorporating Portugal and several African and Asian colonies . He was a king who was in charge of modernizing and reinforcing the entire administration of the Spanish monarchy and made them depart from traditions. Several reforms were made in the different organs of justice and the government and developed a kind of bureaucracy more centralized. He directly and personally supervised all matters related to the State, but in the financial field , the economy got out of hand, mainly due to the great damage suffered by the Royal Treasury.

He abandoned the alliance project he had with England due to the death of his wife and pacified relations with France through the Cateâu Cambrésis Peace Pact and thus eliminated one of his main problems. His foreign policy was oriented towards the Mediterranean , he repressed the rebellion of the Moors in Granada and created the Holy League , where he united Spain with Genoa , Venice and the Papacy . He succeeded in having Portugal annexed to Spain and gained various possessions in Asia and Africa.

He wanted to transform his kingdom into a universal monarchy but this was not easy. In the Netherlands they had already begun to present a series of revolts that had been motivated by the British and therefore, the king decided to send his army to fight against England for his support for the insurgents, however, the Great Felipe II’s army failed . Later, he had the fleet rebuilt but this could not be accomplished.

Physical characteristics

Some descriptions mention that he was a man of short stature , his face was slightly rounded and his eyes were pale blue . She had a slightly protruding lip and her skin was pink. He was seen as an attractive man .


He was a king who had a very cultured personality, he was extremely intelligent and to some extent, a fan of religion and with the obsession of being able to extend his territories. He was also sensitive and had been very prepared in all tasks to govern.


His father was the legitimate Holy Roman Emperor Carlos V and his mother was Isabel of Portugal.


Felipe II married the Infanta of Portugal María Manuela de Portugal , they remained married from 1543 to 1549. He divorced his first wife and married María Tudor , who was the Queen of England in 1554. Later He remarried Isabel de Valois who was the Infanta of France in 1546. Finally, in 1570 he married Ana of Austria who was the Archduchess of Austria and who was also his niece. He also had two lovers, Isabel de Osorio and Eufrasia de Guzmán .


From his first marriage to the Infanta of Portugal, he had a son named Infante Carlos, but he died when he was 23 years old. With Maria Tudor he had no children. With Isabel de Valois he had three daughters, Isabel Clara Eugenia , Catalina Micaela and Juana who died during childbirth. With his last wife, Ana de Austria, he had a total of four children, Fernando , Carlos , Diego and Felipe who would later become Felipe III and María. Only Felipe survived. With his lover Isabel de Osorio he apparently had two children, Bernardino and Pedro. and with Euphrasia he had a daughter, although this was never confirmed.


His successor was Felipe III.

Which dynasty did he belong to

Felipe II was a member of the Habsburg dynasty .

Importance of Philip II

Although the imposition and arrogance of Felipe II as well as his imperial projects caused humanity to be stripped of all its heritage, and having impoverished the intellectual life of Spain through the Spanish Inquisition , it must be recognized that by through him, in many countries of the world today speak Spanish what has been important to survive and thrive .

It was through him that Spain managed to become a power and the most important country of the time. It is also seen as responsible for changing and configuring the entire monarchy of the country inheriting a large number of territories around the world. It consolidated the overseas empire of Spain, managed to massively increase the import of silver against the English, Dutch and French corsairs, and ended the main threat posed to Europe by the Ottoman navy .


Some of the most remembered phrases of Felipe II are mentioned below:

  • There is no good that cannot be better, nor is there a bad man that cannot be worse.
  • Receive what is yours and give to others what is his.
  • You can assure His Holiness that before suffering the least thing in prejudice to religion or the service of God, I would lose all my States and a hundred lives that I had.
  • I never knowingly committed an injustice.
  • Administer justice with equanimity and rectitude and, if necessary, with rigor and exemplarity.
  • Whoever owns the island of Cuba has the key to the New World.


Some curiosities about Felipe II are mentioned below:

  • He was in charge of promoting the Camino de Santiago and also provided special protection to pilgrims.
  • He made the father’s tomb open so that he could know what was the exact position of the deceased monarch.
  • He declared the Royal Treasury bankrupt three times.
  • In total he had four marriages, two lovers and eleven children.
  • He liked to garden and collect different objects.

Presence in popular culture

In popular culture it is possible to find the story of King Felipe II. He is a central character in Friedrich Schiller’s work , Don Carlos , and in Giuseppe Verdi’s opera adaptation . Charles de Coster’s Legend of Thyl Ulenspiegel and Lamme Goedzak is considered a masterpiece of 19th-century Belgian literature , and it describes the Dutch War of Independence. Consequently, Philip II is depicted as a total caricature and as a vicious man.

One of the best novels about Felipe’s personal life and character appears in Jean Plaidy’s The Spanish Boyfriend . The plot of Carlos Fuentes’s novel , Terra Nostra , revolves around the construction of Felipe II’s palace in San Lorenzo de El. Felipe II also appears in Actus Fidei , a work by Steven Breese that premiered at Christopher Newport University in 2007.

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