Phillip II (Philip the Prudent) was born to Emperor Charles V and Isabella of Portugal on 21 May 1527. He was Duke of Milan from 1540, King of Naples and Sicily from 1554 until his death in 1598, From 1555 he was Lord of the Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands, inherited his father’s Spanish Empire in 1556, succeeded to the Portuguese throne in 1580, and was jure uxoris King of England and Ireland from his marriage to Queen Mary I in 1554 until her death in 1558, Under Phillip II Spain reached the height of its influence and power, sometimes called the Spanish Golden Age, and ruled territories in every continent then known to Europeans.

Deeply devout, Philip saw himself as the defender of Catholic Europe against the Ottoman Empire and the Protestant Reformation. In 1584, Philip signed the Treaty of Joinville funding the French Catholic League over the following decade in its civil war against the French Huguenots. In 1588, he sent an armada to invade Protestant England, with the strategic aim of overthrowing Elizabeth I and re-establishing Catholicism there, but his fleet was defeated in a skirmish at Gravelines and then destroyed by storms as it circled the British Isles to return to Spain. 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. To which, a year later, Phillip remarked, “It is impiety, and almost blasphemy to presume to know the will of God. It comes from the sin of pride. Even kings, Brother Nicholas, must submit to being used by God’s will without knowing what it is. They must never seek to use it.”

In 1572, a prominent exiled member of the Dutch aristocracy, William of Orange (Prince of Orange), invaded the Netherlands with a Protestant army, but he only succeeded in holding two provinces, Holland and Zeeland.

The States-General of the northern provinces, united in the 1579 Union of Utrecht, passed an Act of Abjuration in 1581 declaring that they no longer recognized Philip as their king. The southern Netherlands (now Belgium and Luxembourg) remained under Spanish rule. On 15 March 1580, Philip offered a reward of 25,000 crowns to anyone who would kill William the Silent (William of Orange), calling him a “pest on the whole of Christianity and the enemy of the human race”. That request was carried out in 1584 by Balthasar Gérard. But in spite of Orange’s assassination, the Dutch forces continued to fight under his son Maurice of Nassau, who received modest help from the Queen of England in 1585. The Dutch gained an advantage over the Spanish because of their growing economic strength and the war came to an end in 1648 when the Dutch Republic was recognized by the Spanish Crown as independent.

Under Philip II, Spain reached the peak of its power. However, in spite of the great and increasing quantities of gold and silver flowing into his coffers from the American mines, the riches of the Portuguese spice trade, and the enthusiastic support of the Habsburg dominions for the Counter-Reformation, he would never succeed in suppressing Protestantism or defeating the Dutch rebellion. He stated, “Before suffering the slightest damage to religion in the service of God, I would lose all of my estates and a hundred lives if I had them because I do not wish nor do I desire to be the ruler of heretics.”

Philip II died in El Escorial, near Madrid, on 13 September 1598, of cancer. He was succeeded by his 20-year-old son, Philip III.

References

  1. “William The Taciturn”L.Abelous, translated by J.P. Lacroix, Nelson&Phillips of NewYork, 1872. library of congress [1] catalogued with subject “William I, Prince of Orange (1534–1584).
  2. John Whitehead Historian, Oxford, Oriel College, weblog page about William I Once I was a clever boy.
  3. “Willie”Libraries: Special Collections and University Archives. Rutgers University. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
  4. John Lothrop Motley, “History of the United Netherlands from the Death of William the Silent to the Synod of Dort”. London: John Murray, 1860.
  5. Various authors. 1977. Winkler Prins – Geschiedenis der Nederlanden. Amsterdam: Elsevier. ISBN 90-10-01745-1.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

1517Pope Leo X, needing money to rebuild St. Peter’s, announced a special sale of indulgences. Johann Tetzel, a middle-aged Dominican friar, became the principal agent of the sale.

1572Elector Frederick III of the Palatinate notified the Catholic father of Charlotte de Bourbon, Princess of Orange, that he provided her asylum because she has followed the dictates of her conscience in embracing Reformation doctrines.

1672Charles II of England issues a Declaration of Indulgence to extend religious liberty to Protestant nonconformists and Roman Catholics in his realm. Parliament soon forced him to suspend it because it usurped their authority.

1796 – In a disappointing setback for William Wilberforce and his allies, the English Parliament voted 74 -70 against an anti-slavery bill, whose opposition had cleverly provided lukewarm supporters with free tickets to see the London premiere of a comic opera.

1833 – The Presbytery of Annan (in Scotland) deposes Edward Irving from the ministry due to the hold that tongues-speaking prophetesses have gained over him, and owing to his unorthodox theology of the human nature of Christ. He founded “The Holy Apostolic Church” or “Irvingites.”

Retrieved ChristianHistoryInstitute.org and Rhemalogy.com. 14 March 2020.

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