Philip II was a key figure in Spanish history. His
reign was the beginning of the end of Spainís power.
The most outstanding contribution of Philip II was his
construction of the Spanish Armada even though its
efforts failed.
Even though Spain and England were officially at
peace with each other they still had bad feelings for
each other. Spain had been taking gold and silver from
land that they had claimed in the Americas and England
wanted them to share the wealth. Philip II did not
give Queen Elizabeth any of his money so she encouraged
Francis Drake and other seamen to raid Spanish ships
and towns. Other conflicts between the countries were
their religious differences. Spain was Roman Catholic
and most of England was Protestant. In the 1560ís
England started to help the Dutch Protestants who were
rebelling against Spain at that time, so that added to
the friction between the two nations. Starting in the
early 1580ís Philip II began planning to send a fleet
and army to invade England. I doing this he hoped to
stop the raids and convert England from Protestantism
to Catholicism.(The World Book Encyclopedia, pg. 755)
So the construction began in 1586. King Philip II
built many new warships, rearmed his existing ones more
heavily, and also rented ships from other countries.
The Spanish Armada alone cost Philip II 10,000,000
ducats.(J.H. Elliott, pg. 279) The Armada was brought
together in May of 1588 at the Portuguese port of
Lisbon. The fleet had 130 ships and over 29,000 men,
most of whom were soldiers. Some of the ships lacked
guns and experienced gunners while other ships lacked
ammunition because they were only transport ships.
Philip II named the experienced military planner but
inexperienced seaman, Duke of Medina Sidonia, the
commander of the Spanish Armada.(The World Book
Encyclopedia, pg. 755)
England also prepared for the battle that was at
hand. They armed many of their merchant vessels and
added them to their warships. Englandís fleet had 197
ships and almost 16,000 men, most of whom were sailors
rather that soldiers like Spain. England had the
advantage in ships but Spain had the advantage in men.
Admiral Lord Howard of Effington was put in command of
the English fleet and his squadron leaders included
Sir Frances Drake, John Hawkins, and Martin Frobisher.
(The World Book Encyclopedia, pg. 756)
The Armada left the port on May 30, 1588 and
entered the English channel on July 30 where long range
gun duels were fought with English warships for the
next few days. On August 6 the Armada anchored at
Calais France where they had planned to meet barges
carrying more Spanish troops but the Dutch prevented
the barges from arriving at the meeting point.
In the morning of August 8 the English sent eight
fire ships toward the Armada. The Spanish ships sailed
out to sea to escape the fire but later that morning
about 60 English ships attacked about the same number
of Spanish ships. The English sank two if the Armadaís
ships and damaged others. The crippled and weak Armada
fled to the North Sea. They returned to Spain by
sailing north around the British Isles. Heavy winds
wrecked many ships off Irelandís coast, and only 67 of
the 130 ships made it back to Spain. That was a very
surprising and upsetting loss to Spain.(The World Book
Encyclopedia, pg. 756)
Philip II came from a noble family. His father
was Charles V, king of Spain before Philip II. In 1556
when Charles V retired to a Spanish monastery his
brother Ferdinand I inherited the eastern Hapsburg
lands and the title of Holy Roman Emperor. Spain, the
Netherlands, and Spainís lands in America and Italy
went to Philip II. Charles Vís grandparents or
Philip IIís great grandparents were Queen Isabella and
King Ferdinand. They were the King and Queen made
famous because they sponsored Christopher Columbusí
voyage to the new world. Those were some of the more
famous ancestors that were nobility in Philip IIís
family.(W.H. Prescott, pg. 435-45)(The Modern Era,
pg. 386)
Philip II was the king at the time when Spain
started losing power. Whether the decline was all on
his shoulders is argumentable, some say yes and some
say no, but the fact is that Philip II did bring good
thing to Spain but with a major defeat like suffered by
the Armada it was difficult to bounce back. Still
others would still argue that with a little better
decision making or a different king Spain would have
never been defeated by England and they would have
stayed on top of the powerful countries in Europe.
Philip IIís personality may have caused certain
events in history to happen the way that the did. For
one thing if