Philip II, king of Spain, born in Vallado-lid, May 21, 1527, died in the palace of the Es-curial, Sept. 13, 1598. His father was Charles V., emperor of Germany and king of Spain, and his mother the empress Isabella, daughter of Emanuel the Great of Portugal. He was carefully educated, and showed some taste for science and the fine arts, especially for mathematics and architecture. At the age of 16 he was married to his cousin the infanta Maria, daughter of John III. of Portugal, who died within two years, a few days after giving birth to Don Carlos. Philip was married a second time, July 25, 1554, at Winchester, to Mary, queen of England. To make the husband equal to the wife in rank, Charles resigned to his son the kingdom of Naples and the duchy of Milan. The marriage was not happy, for Mary was very homely, and Philip, though she doated on him, treated her with coldness and was notorious for his infidelities. After a residence of somewhat more than a year in England, he was summdhed to Flanders by his father, and in September, 1555, reached Brussels, where on Oct. 25 was fulfilled the famous act of abdication by which Charles transferred to Philip the sovereignty of the Netherlands. On Jan. 16, 1556, the emperor ceded to his son all his remaining hereditary dominions, and shortly afterward resigned the elective crown of the German empire in favor of his brother Ferdinand. Philip thus became sovereign of the most powerful and extensive empire in the world, including, besides the Netherlands, a great part of Italy, the whole of Spain, and the vast Spanish possessions in America, Africa, and the East Indies. He is described at this time as a small, meagre man, much below the middle height, with thin legs, a narrow chest, and the shrinking timid air of a habitual invalid.
He had the face of a Fleming with the manners of a Spaniard. He looked constantly on the ground when he conversed, was chary of speech, and embarrassed and even suffering in manner. He was considered by his contemporaries to be deficient in mental capacity; but he had an inclination for business amounting almost to a passion, and was an indefatigable writer of despatches, spending nearly all his time in his cabinet with his ministers and secretaries. His main object in life was to support and advance the Roman Catholic religion. His ambition for the aggrandizement of his empire was generally subordinate to his concern for the church; and he was accustomed to say, " Better not reign at all than reign over heretics." But although his piety and his position at the head of the Roman Catholic princes of Europe made him the natural ally of the pope, one of the first events of his reign was a war with Paul IV., who then occupied the papal throne. The pope had formed an alliance with Henry II. of France and with Solyman the Turkish sultan, the latter of whom agreed to make a descent on the Italian dominions of Philip, while a powerful French army led by the duke of Guise entered Italy for the conquest of Milan and Naples. Philip had intrusted the government of the latter kingdom to the duke of Alva, and that able soldier in one campaign carried his arms to the walls of Rome, and in another drove the French out of Naples and compelled the pope to sue for peace, which was concluded Sept. 14, 1557. Meantime Philip in person was vigorously prosecuting hostilities in the northern provinces of France, having by his influence with Mary induced England to declare war against that country.
Under his direction a powerful army, the actual commander of which was Emanuel Philibert, duke of Savoy, assisted by William of Orange, Egmont, and other officers of distinction, entered Picardy and laid siege to St. Quentin. A French army, attempting to relieve the place, was defeated, chiefly by the brilliant valor of Egmont, in a battle fought Aug. 10, 1557, the day of St. Lawrence; and in honor of that martyr, to whose interposition he ascribed the victory, Philip subsequently built the convent and palace of the Escurial. The town of St. Quentin was taken by storm soon after the battle. Other victories over the French rapidly succeeded, but the jealousies of his English and German allies prevented Philip from prosecuting his conquests by marching on Paris. In the following year the French invaded Flanders, and were signally defeated in the battle of Gravelines by a Spanish and Flemish army commanded by Egmont, who much enhanced by this achievement the reputation he had gained in the campaign before St. Quentin. These victories led to the treaty of Cateau-Cambresis (April 2, 1559), which was highly favorable to Philip, and greatly raised his reputation in Europe as a sovereign and a diplomatist.
While negotiations were going on his wife Mary of England died, Nov. 17, 1558. Philip soon made offers of marriage to her successor Elizabeth, which were rejected. He did not take the refusal greatly to heart, and speedily obtained the hand of the princess Elizabeth, or Isabella, daughter of Henry II. of France, who at the late treaty had been promised to Philip's son Carlos, the prince and the princess being at that time both about 14. The marriage was celebrated at Paris, June 24, 1559, the duke of Alva acting as his sovereign's proxy. A few weeks later Philip sailed from the Netherlands to Spain, where he afterward always resided, and where he was joined by his bride early in the following year. He left the government of the Netherlands in the hands of his half sister Margaret, duchess of Parma, as regent, assisted by a council composed in part of William of Orange, Count Egmont, and Antoine Perrenot, bishop of Arras, subsequently better known as Cardinal Granvelle. Philip had not been many days in Valladolid, where the court then resided, before he signalized his devotion to the church by attending an auto da fe, at which 14 Protestants were burned at the stake, two of them men of high rank and distinguished talents.
Soon after his return to Spain he began to take measures for extirpating heresy in the Netherlands. For this purpose he had in conjunction with the pope added 13 new bishoprics to the four already existing in these provinces, and made Mechlin the seat of an archbishop with the dignity of primate. The popular opposition to this and other measures of the Spanish court was led by Orange, Egmont, Horn, Montigny, and other eminent and influential nobles, some of whom were Catholics. Their energetic protests compelled Philip in 1564 to withdraw Granvelle from the country, the odium of these proceedings being popularly fixed on that prelate. But the persecution of the Protestants was continued, and 17 persons were publicly burned at the stake in 1564. The people at length rose in insurrection, and in 1567 the duke of Alva was sent with a powerful army to repress the rebellion and extirpate the heretics. Under his rule the most terrible barbarities were inflicted on the Protestants. Egmont and Horn and several other great nobles were beheaded, and during his administration of six years 18,000 persons perished on the scaffold, besides immense numbers killed in battles, sieges, and massacres.
This ferocity failed to subdue the insurgents, who under the wise leadership of William of Orange maintained a heroic, and generally successful struggle against Alva and his successors, Requesens, Don John of Austria, and the duke of Parma. In 1579 the seven United Provinces formed the union of Utrecht, and during the rest of Philip's reign maintained their independence and carried on a vigorous war with the Spaniards by land and sea. Among the remarkable incidents of this long contest was the assassination of William of Orange, the great leader of the revolt of the Netherlands, at Delft in 1584. The deed was incited by a proclamation of Philip offering inducements for its commission; and although the assassin, Balthasar Gerard, was taken and put to death, Philip rewarded his heirs with estates of great value and with patents of nobility. During the earlier part of the war with the Netherlands, Philip carried on almost constant hostilities against the Mohammedans. The famous siege of Malta by the Turks in 1565 was raised by his forces sent from Sicily. His persecution drove the Moors of Granada to a revolt in 1568, which was suppressed with rigor.
It was followed in 1571 by a war with the Turks, the principal event of which was the great naval victory of Lepanto, won by Philip's half brother Don John of Austria, in which the Ottoman fleet was nearly annihilated. In 1578-80, by the death of Dom Sebastian and of Henry the Cardinal, the throne of Portugal became vacant, and Philip, as uncle of Sebastian, claimed the crown, and sent Alva with an army to enforce his right. This was effected, and in 1581 Philip was recognized by the Portuguese estates as rightful sovereign of the kingdom. After the death of Orange he bent all his energies and resources to the conquest of England. The "invincible armada," which had been long in preparation, was sent for this purpose in 1588, but was completely foiled, partly by the elements, and partly by the English fleet. (See Armada.) The relations of Philip with France during his long reign had been sometimes warlike and sometimes peaceful, but both his arms and his money were freely given to aid the Catholics of that kingdom against the Huguenots. He continued his hostility against Henry IV. even after that monarch had become a Catholic, and his intrigues led Henry in 1595 to declare war against him.
The contest was not favorable to Spain, and in 1598 Philip was reluctantly compelled to consent to the peace of Ver-vins. In the same year a complication of distressing maladies, the consequence of early debaucheries, caused his death, in the palace of the Escurial, which he had himself built, and which still remains the most magnificent monument of his power and wealth. One of the strangest transactions of Philip's reign was his treatment of his eldest son Don Carlos. (See Caelos, Don, I.) Within three months after the death of Carlos his stepmother Queen Isabella died, it was reported at the time by poison administered by Philip's order. This accusation has been refuted by recent researches, and it is now known that she died in giving birth to a daughter who did not survive her, and was buried in the same coffin. The queen died in 1568, and in 1570 Philip married as his fourth wife the archduchess Anne of Austria, daughter of the German emperor Maximilian II., who became the mother of his successor Philip III. - See Prescott's " History of Philip II." (3 vols., 1856-'9; new ed., 1874), and Motley's "Rise of the Dutch Pvepublic" (3 vols., 1856), and "History of the United Netherlands" (4 vols., 1860-'67).