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Philip II is not only the most famous king in Spanish history, but also the most infamous king in English history: the man who launched the Spanish Armada was the same man who attempted the assassination of Elizabeth Tudor. This compelling biography of Europe's most powerful sixteenth-century monarch begins with his conception (1526) and ends with his ascent to heaven (1603), two occurrences surprisingly well-documented by contemporaries. Geoffrey Parker draws on decades of research and a recent, extraordinary archival discovery - a trove of 3,000 documents in the vaults of the Hispanic Society of America in New York City, unread since crossing Philip's own desk. Some of the documents confirm what is already known about the king. Others change the picture significantly. The book examines Philip's long apprenticeship; his three principal interests (work, play and religion); and the major political, military and personal challenges he faced during his long reign.Parker also reviews Philip's reputation in legend and history, offering fresh insights into the causes of Philip's leadership failures: was his empire simply too big to manage, or would a monarch with different talents and temperament have fared better?
Yale University Press
October 1, 2014
About the author
Geoffrey Parker is Andreas Dorpalen Professor of History at The Ohio State University, having previously taught at the University of Illinois, the University of St Andrews and Yale University. He has received the 2012 Heineken History Prize, the Samuel Eliot Morison Prize from the Society for Military History, two book prizes, and two Guggenheim awards. Among his many books are The Grand Strategy of Philip II (1998) and Global Crisis (2013), both published by Yale.
"Parker's highly detailed but also immensely readable book has come far closer to that than any previous account of the most enigmatic of Spanish kings."- Anthony Pagden in New York Times Book Review