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Top 10 Facts About Philip II Of Spain


King Philip II of Spain ruled one of the world’s largest empires. He was king of Spain during the Golden Age. This was during the era of great cultural growth in literature, music and art.

He also reigned over England after he got married to Mary Tudor. This lasted for four years. His father, Emperor Charles V, ruled over Spain before him. He was also very close to his mother, Isabella of Portugal.

He had two sisters, Joanna and Maria; the three siblings were really close. Philip II was described as being very attractive. One of his wives confirmed that she felt lucky to get married to an attractive man.

Their empire extended to other territories occupied by Europeans. In his honour, the country of the Philippines was named after him.

King Philip II had a very powerful and influential Kingdom. Here are the top 10 facts about Him.

1. King Philip II’s mother taught him

Philip was born on May 21, 1527, in Valladolid in northern Castile.  He was the only son of Charles V, King of Spain and Isabella. His father was also the Roman Emperor.

While his father was busy taking care of the empire business, his mother took care of him and his sisters. She was also their teacher.

Isabella taught him humanist lessons and the works of Erasmus. She also taught him Languages such as Latin, French, and Portuguese as well as Italian.

Unlike his father, Philip did not become a polyglot. He however loved the arts specifically music and martial arts. He was taught this by his mother.

His mother also instilled in him the belief in God and his providence.   

2. Philip II was raised up in the Royal Court of Castille

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Philip was born in Castile and raised in the Castilian court. He grew up speaking Spanish, a language he strongly identified by.

This led him to prefer living in Spanish Kingdoms despite ruling most of Europe. He stayed in the royal court together with his mother until her death in 1539.

Before turning a year old, he was given the oath of allegiance as the heir of the crown. Growing up in the royal court meant he had people around him.

He had two Portuguese noblemen, Rui Gomes da Silva and Luis de Requesens. These two men served Philip most of their lives.

3. King Philip II was said to be easy on the eyes

The King of Spain was described as a man with a slight stature and was round-faced. His eyes were pale blue and he had a protruding lower lip.

Philip had pink skin and was said to be very attractive. His wardrobe was impeccable and he was always well-mannered.

When he got married to his younger wife, she described him as a charming prince.

4. Despite his language classes, He only spoke Spanish

By Jooris van der Straeten – Wikimedia

Isabella made her best to ensure that his son learnt all the languages in demand. His father was multilingual, a skill that gave him an upper hand in ruling the Empire.

Philip II however loved the Spanish language more than the other languages. When he started his royal duties, Philip travelled to several territories in the Hapsburg region.

The people thought he seemed standoffish because he did not speak their language. This hindered his communication with the people because of his arrogance.

While travelling through the Empire, Philip II loved the culture of the people. He started collecting art that was produced by Flemish masters.

5. He identified with his Spanish side more

The Spanish empire extended to Austria. He was made the archduke of Austria. The people there however saw him as a foreigner in the Roman Empire.

Interestingly, the archduke did not feel offended because he identified culturally as Spanish. Since he grew up in Castile, he considered himself a Castilian.

This also meant that he preferred speaking the Spanish language more and living in Spain. The only Spanish cultural practice he did not acquire is bullfighting.

6. His father, Charles V, mentored him

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King Philip II became the Duke of Milan in 1540. This is when he officially began his political training. A year later, he was named the heir to the Castilian throne.

His father noticed some leadership qualities in him such as his prudence, thoughtfulness and he was mature too.

To horn his leadership skills further, Charles V advised him on qualities that would make him more likeable.

These qualities were; piety, patience, modesty, and distrust. Philip applied these and impressed his father. When he turned 16, Philip II was made a governor in the empire.

7. King Philip II was married 4 times

The King got married four times. One of his marriages was for convenience. His first wife was Maria, the two had a son. Unfortunately, Maria died during the birth of their son.

The King then married a second wife, Mary. It was an unfortunate union where she suffered two miscarriages then passed away.

His third marriage was to Elizabeth. The two had five daughters. A fate similar to the previous wives befell her. Elizabeth had a miscarriage and died.

He married the fourth wife and they had 8 children; 4 sons and 4 daughters. The fourth wife died during the birth of the last daughter.

8. One of his wives had a false pregnancy

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King Philip II was married to a woman 11 years older than him. His wife Mary believed she was expectant and asked Philip II not to travel to the Netherlands.

The King agreed to stay until the birth of their child. Mary realized that she had a false pregnancy. She gave up on it in April.

Shortly after, King Philip II left for England. Mary felt abandoned by her husband. While on his official trip to Europe, His father made him in charge of English affairs.  

9. He involved his faith in foreign policies

Philip II included religion in the foreign policies of the Roman Empire.

Growing up, Philip’s mother instilled faith and belief in him. His father also advised him on the importance of piety in leadership.

King Philip II considered himself a defender of Catholicism in Europe. He defended it against the Protestants and Ottoman Turks.

The King limited the freedom to worship within his territory to Catholicism only. He campaigned against the Dutch Protestants in 1568. His mother supported all his efforts.

10. His Marriage to Queen Mary was for convenience

By Hans Eworth – Wikimedia

Philip II was married to his father’s first cousin, Mary. His father had always taken care of her and also protected her from her father’s wrath.

She had proposed marriage to Charles V but he turned it down because he was older. He however suggested that she marries her son.

The main purpose of this union was to maintain the relationship between the nations; England and Spain. They also wanted to return England to Catholicism.

Their union was short-lived because they did not have a child. Although he was King, he had no authority over England. England still had power and did not want to be involved in Spain’s wars.