Felipe II (May 21, 1527 – September 13, 1598) was the son of Emperor Charles V and Isabella of Portugal. Felipe II inherited his father’s Spanish Empire and was the King of Spain from 1556, and succeeded as King of Portugal in 1580 following a dynastic crisis. Felipe II was King of Naples and Sicily from 1554 until his death in 1598.
Felipe II was also jure uxoris King of England and Ireland during his marriage to Queen Mary I of England and Ireland from 1554 until her death in 1558. He was also Duke of Milan from 1540. From 1555, he was Lord of the Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands.Upon Mary I of England’s death, the throne went to her half-sister as Queen Elizabeth I. Felipe had no wish to sever his tie with England, and had sent a proposal of marriage to Elizabeth.
However, she delayed in answering, and in that time learned Felipe was also considering a Valois alliance. Elizabeth I was the Protestant daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.
This union was deemed illegitimate by English Catholics, who disputed the validity of both the annulment of Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon and of his subsequent marriage to Boleyn, and hence claimed that Mary I, Queen of Scots, the Catholic great-granddaughter of Henry VII, was the rightful monarch.For many years Felipe maintained peace with England, and even defended Elizabeth from the Pope’s threat of excommunication.
This was a measure taken to preserve a European balance of power.Ultimately, Elizabeth allied England with the Protestant rebels in the Netherlands. Further, English ships began a policy of piracy against Spanish trade and threatened to plunder the great Spanish treasure ships coming from the New World.
English ships went so far as to attack a Spanish port. The last straw for Felipe was the Treaty of Nonsuch signed by Elizabeth in 1585 – promising troops and supplies to the rebels. Although it can be argued this English action was the result of Felipe’s Treaty of Joinville with the Catholic League of France, Felipe considered it an act of war by England.
On June 16, 1586 Mary I, Queen of Scots, recognizes Felipe II of Spain as her heir and successor to her English claim to the throne. Selecting Felipe II of Spain as heir Mary’s English throne was a move to return both England Catholic Churc. as Mary’s son, King James VI of Scotland, had been raised as a Protestant and was ruling that Kingdom.
However, the execution of Mary I, Queen of Scots for treason against Elizabeth I, in 1587 ended Felipe’s hopes of placing a Catholic on the English throne. He turned instead to more direct plans to invade England and return the country to Catholicism.In 1588, he sent a fleet, the Spanish Armada, to rendezvous with the Duke of Parma’s army and convey it across the English Channel.
However, the operation had little chance of success from the beginning, because of lengthy delays, lack of communication between Felipe II and his two commanders and the lack of a deep bay for the fleet.
At the point of attack, a storm struck the English Channel, already known for its harsh currents and choppy waters, which devastated large numbers of the Spanish fleet. There was a tightly fought battle against the English Royal Navy; it was by no means a slaughter (only one Spanish ship was sunk), but the Spanish were forced into a retreat, and the overwhelming majority of the Armada was destroyed by the harsh weather.
Whilst the English Royal Navy may not have destroyed the Armada at the Battle of Gravelines, they had prevented it from linking up with the army it was supposed to convey across the channel. Thus whilst the English Royal Navy may have only won a slight tactical victory over the Spanish, it had delivered a major strategic one—preventing the invasion of England.Through a week of fighting the Spanish had expended 100,000 cannonballs, but no English ship was seriously damaged.
However, over 7,000 English sailors died from disease during the time the Armada was in English waters.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 Felipe’s enemies as a sign of the will of God. Many Spaniards blamed the admiral of the Armada for its failure, but Felipe, despite his complaint that he had sent his ships to fight the English, not the elements, was not among them.