Philip II of Spain (Serapis Classics)
Philip II of Spain (Serapis Classics)
Philip's failure, and the reasons for it-His birth and infancy-His appearance and character-His education by Siliceo and Zuñiga-The emperor meets his son-The consolidation of authority in Spain-Suggestions for marriage with Jeanne d'Albret-Philip made Regent of Spain-The emperor's instructions to his son-His system of government-Character of his councillors-Philip's marriage with Maria of Portugal-Birth of Don Carlos and death of the princess-Doña Isabel de Osorio-Philip in his domestic relations-Project for securing to Philip the imperial crown-The suzerainty of Spain over Italy-Philip's voyage through Germany.
F OR three hundred years a bitter controversy has raged around the actions of Philip II. of Spain. Until our own times no attempt even had been made to write his life-history from an impartial point of view. He had been alternately deified and execrated, until through the mists of time and prejudice he loomed rather as the permanent embodiment of a system than as an individual man swayed by changing circumstances and controlled by human frailties.
The more recent histories of his reign-the works of English, American, German, and French scholars-have treated their subject with fuller knowledge and broader sympathies, but they have necessarily been to a large extent histories of the great events which convulsed Europe for fifty years at the most critical period of modern times. The space to be occupied by the present work will not admit of this treatment of the subject. The purpose is therefore to consider Philip mainly as a statesman, in relation to the important problems with which he had to deal, rather than to write a connected account of the occurrences of a long reign. It will be necessary for us to try to penetrate the objects he aimed at and the influences, personal and exterior, which ruled him, and to seek the reasons for his failure. For he did fail utterly. In spite of very considerable powers of mind, of a long lifetime of incessant toil, of deep-laid plans, and vast ambitions, his record is one continued series of defeats and disappointments; and in exchange for the greatest heritage that Christendom had ever seen, with the apparently assured prospect of universal domination which opened before him at his birth, he closed his dying eyes upon dominions distracted and ruined beyond all recovery, a bankrupt State, a dwindled prestige, and a defeated cause. He had devoted his life to the task of establishing the universal supremacy of Catholicism in the political interests of Spain, and he was hopelessly beaten.
The reasons for his defeat will be seen in the course of the present work to have been partly personal and partly circumstantial. The causes of both these sets of reasons were laid at periods long anterior to Philip's birth.
The first of the great misfortunes of Spain was an event which at the time looked full of bright promise, namely, the marriage of Juana, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabel, to Philip of Austria, son of the Emperor Maximilian. This marriage eventually burdened the King of Spain with the German dominions of the House of Austria, the imperial crown, with its suzerainty over Italy, the duchy of Milan, and, above all, the rich inheritance of the House of Burgundy, the Franche Comté, Holland, and the Netherlands. Even before this the crown of Aragon had been weakened rather than strengthened by the possession of Sicily and Naples, which latter brought it into inimical contact with France, and also necessitated the assertion and defence of its rights as a Mediterranean Power in constant rivalry with Turks and Algerians. This had been bad, but the vast and scattered territories of Charles V. cursed Spain with a foreign policy in every corner of Europe. In his Austrian dominions the emperor was the outpost of