1527 - 1598
King of Spain
Philip was born in Valladolid, the only son of Emperor Charles V and Isabella
of Portugal. Philip II inher-ited from his father the Habsburg possessions in Italy,
the Nether-lands, Spain, and the New World.
After the death of his first wife Philip married Mary I of England (1554), becoming joint sovereign of England. Mary died in 1558 and he successively married Elizabeth of France and Anna of Austria.
Philip as Spaniard, Habsburg and Catholic, conceived his mission to be the reunion of Christianity under the Catholic faith and under Spanish leadership. He became therefore the leader of the struggle against Protestantism.
He supported the harsh measures of the Spanish Inquisition, and sought to crush Protestantism, first in the Low Countries (from 1568), then in England and France. Besides domestic unrest Philip had to deal with a continuing revolt of the Netherlands.
A brilliant naval victory at Lepanto (1571) over the Ottomans broke Turkish domination of the Mediterranean and in 1580 Philipp succeeded to conquer Portugal. But the defeat of his Great Armada (1588) by England marked the beginning of the end of Spain as a world power.
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