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The Spanish Empire of Philip II

13 Sept 1598; Philip II of Spain died, after ruling for more than 40 years. He was 71.

Under Philip II, Spain became the richest and most forimidable nation on earth, and he boasted of ruling the world from the Escorial with pen and paper. But Spain had been in trouble ever since he sent his "Invincible Armada" against the English in 1588. The bid to punish England for its support of Dutch Protestants fighting against Spanish rule, and for plundering Spanish possessions in Mexico and South America, came badly unstuck. Although the defeat, its prestige had been seriously damaged and its naval supremacy lost.

Philip's achievements, however were many. He and Don John of Austria broke the power of the Turks in the Mediterrean in1 571, and he conquered the Philippines in 1580. But the Netherlands, one of the most valuable possessions in the empire, declared its independence in 1581 and a treaty with France shortly before Philip's death marked Spain's slow retreat from northern Europe.

Philip married Queen Mary I of England earlier in his reign, at a time when the English looked upon Spain as their greatest enemy, but deserted her shortly before she died. He regarded himself as a great champion of the Roman Catholic faith and supported the harsh measures of the Inquisition.

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Phillip II of Spain's Empire