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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

The latter excommunicated both Charles and Philip


[Sidenote:

Education and character of Philip II.]

Historians have often gone to extremes in their judgments of Philip II. Some have been ardently pro-Philip, while others were as bitterly condemnatory. Recently, opinions have been more moderately expressed. In addition to native ability and intelligence Philip had the benefit of an unusually good education in preparation for government. Charles himself was one of the youth's instructors, and, long before his various abdications, had given Philip political practice in various ways,--for example, by making him co-regent of Spain with Cardinal Tavera during Charles' own absence in Germany. Philip also travelled extensively in the lands which he one day hoped to govern,--in Italy (1548), the Low Countries (1549), and Germany (1550). In 1543 he married a Portuguese princess, Mar?a, his first cousin. One son, Charles, was born of this marriage, but the mother died in childbirth. His fruitless marriage with Mary Tudor, in 1553, has already been mentioned. He remained in England until 1555, when he went to the Low Countries to be crowned, and thence to Spain, of which country he became king in 1556, being at that time twenty-nine years old. His abilities as king of Spain were offset in a measure by certain unfortunate traits and practices. He was of a vacillating type of mind; delays in his administration were often long and fatal, and more than once he let slip a golden opportunity for victory, because he could

not make up his mind to strike. Of a suspicious nature, he was too little inclined to rely upon men from whose abilities he might have profited. A tremendous worker, he was too much in the habit of trying to do everything himself, with the result that greater affairs were held up, while the king of Spain worked over details. Finally, he was extremely rigorous with heretics, from motives of religion and of political policy.

[Sidenote: War with the pope.]

The principal aim of Philip's life was the triumph of Catholicism, but this did not hinder his distinguishing clearly between the interests of the church and those of the popes as rulers of the Papal States. Thus it was not strange that Philip's reign should begin with a war against Pope Paul IV. The latter excommunicated both Charles and Philip, and procured alliances with France and, curious to relate, the sultan of Turkey, head of the Moslem world. The pope was defeated, but it was not until the accession of Pius IV, in 1559, that the bans of excommunication were raised.

[Sidenote: Wars with France.]

There was a constant succession of war and peace with France throughout the reign, with the campaigns being fought more often in northern France from the vantage ground of Flanders than in Italy as in the time of Charles. In 1557 Philip might have been able to take Paris, but he hesitated, and the chance was lost. Many other times Philip's generals won victories, but attacks from other quarters of Europe would cause a diversion, or funds would give out, or Philip himself would change his plans. France was usually on the defensive, because she was weakened during most of the period by the domestic strife between Catholics and Protestants. When in 1589 the Protestant leader became entitled to the throne as Henry IV, Philip and the uncompromising wing of the French Catholic party endeavored to prevent his actual accession to power. At one time it was planned to make Philip himself king of France, but, as this idea did not meet with favor, various others were suggested, including the proposal of Philip's daughter for the crown, or the partition of France between Philip and others. Henry IV settled the matter in 1594 by becoming a Catholic, wherefore he received the adhesion of the Catholic party. Philip was not dissatisfied, for it seemed that he had rid himself of a dangerous Protestant neighbor. Had he but known it, Henry IV was to accomplish the regeneration of a France which was to strike the decisive blow, under Louis XIV, to remove Spain from the ranks of the first-rate powers.


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