Philip II (21st May 1527 – 13th September 1598) was King of Spain (kingdoms of Castile, Navarra, and the Crown of Aragon) and Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I he also was King of England and Ireland. He eventually ruled one of the world's largest empires which included territories in every continent then known to Europeans. During his father's time, but even more during his own rule, it was when the first global saying, "The empire on which the sun never sets" was coined.
Philip's father arranged his marriage to 37-year old Queen Mary I of England. In order to elevate Philip to Mary's rank, his father ceded to him the crown of Naples, as well as his claim to the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Their marriage at Winchester Cathedral on 25th July 1554 took place just two days after their first meeting. Philip's view of the affair was entirely political. The House of Commons petitioned Mary to consider marrying an Englishman, fearing that England would become a dependency of Spain.
Philip became the co-regent of England - the very same man who would afterwards send the Spanish Armada to invade England. Philip and Mary had no children; Queen Mary I, or "Bloody Mary" as she came to be known in English Protestant lore, died in 1558 before the union could revitalize the Roman Catholic Church in England. With her death, Philip lost his rights to the English throne and ceased being King of England and Ireland.
Much of the rapid expansion of the Augustinian Order in Mexico and Latin America happened in the second half of the 16th century. Because this was with the involvement in Spain of Philip II, some basic details about him and his era are provided here. Philip II of Spain (1527 - 1598) assumed the Spanish crown in 1556 with a great deal of potential. In 1580 he also became King of Portugal. (He reigned from1580 to 1598 as Philip I of Portugal). Philip defeated the armies of France at Saint-Quentin in 1557, and fought the Turks successfully on the Mediterranean Sea at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. Next he had to accept the destruction of his Spanish Armada when opposing England in 1588. He lost control of Holland (which had begun declaring its independence in 1581). He saw himself as the leader of the Catholic Reformation (the Counter Reformation), and took interest in the reform of religious orders, which had been directed by the Council of Trent (1545 - 1564).
After the Council, he had the right to nominate the candidate that Rome would then appoint as a bishop in territories under his control. Between 1562 and 1584, Philip built the El Escorial as his residence near Madrid - a monastery as much as palace. (By way of comparison, the Spanish Armada cost 10 million ducats, and the building of the El Escorial cost 5.5 million ducats). Underneath all of this was an economy that was weak and too dependent on foreign income.
Taxes in Spain increased by 430% during the thirty-two years of the reign of Philip II. Financial inflation, which was a phenomenon previously rare in Europe, caused prices to rise by 400% during the same period. The gold and silver bullion arriving from South America caused inflation, and went to repay existing bank debts of Spain. His kingdom was bankrupt a number of times during his rule, and was supported by financial loans; at no stage did Philip have secure economic foundations for his Spanish empire. His survival in office depended too much on the taxation of his territories outside of Spain and on the selling of bonds by the Spanish treasury. Neither of these methods could be a sure or lasting substitute for the economic strength and stability that Spain did not possess.
Philip also used the Inquisition to root out any suspicion of treason and error in Christian doctrine. He developed Mexico and South America in a centralised manner that involved him in both its civil and religious progress. With himself in control, there was to be a unity of vision and purpose, and a unity of religion. In May 1493 in the previous century, Pope Alexander VI had granted the Reyes Católicos (the "Catholic monarchs," Ferdinand V, King of Aragon, and Isabella I, Queen of Castile) the rights to conquer the islands and the lands of the American continent.
This was on the condition that they would send worthy men to teach the Catholic faith and Christian customs to the natives. The kings of Spain never forgot this condition. Firstly this was done by Ferdinand and Isabella, then by Charles V, and then by Philip II. They asked the leaders of the religious orders, either by letter or by summoning them in person to the Court, to find suitable and willing religious who wanted to convert people to the Christian Faith, and to send such members to Latin America for at least ten years.
Philip II imposed this unity of vision and unity of religion upon Latin America, just as his predecessor, King Charles V, had done. Whether or not to accept Christian faith was not an option given to the native peoples. To impose the Christian Faith was the role of the Church, supported by the power of the monarchy. Ideally, the church and monarchy were different agents with the same broad vision - even if, unfortunately, the local agents of the monarch in Latin America were often more intent upon unscrupulous profit-seeking.
The arrival of the Church in the New World terminated human sacrifice and cannibalism. Temples and statues of other gods were destroyed, because aboriginal cultures were viewed as manifestations of the devil. Only those aspects and images in native art that supported the Christian religion were permitted to continue. The people of Mexico and South America were forced to occupy a secondary position in the social structure. They eventually became servants of the Spanish king. Labour contracts to their Spanish masters - some of whom were filled with greed - could make the local people like a serf of the Middle Ages, or even a slave. This was exemplified by two institutions known as the encomienda and the repartimiento. The former referred to lands "commended" to the immigrants from Spain, and the latter to the requirement that Indians (the native people) work these lands for little or no pay, and frequently under the lash.
As also happened in the Philippines, the various Roman Catholic religious orders - Franciscans, Dominicans, Mercedians, Augustinians and Jesuits - were in charge of the conversion of the population to the Christian religion. In accordance with the terms of the patronato real, or royal patronage of the Catholic Church, the government assumed the financial burden of spreading the Christian Faith. It paid the religious order for each of its members who worked, and subsidised the expenses of his work.
The government acquired in return the privilege of nominating the occupants of all important offices in the church. It regularly assigned to priests civil as well as religious functions. Over time, the religious orders also gained large areas of land through donations from the Spanish colonial elite (who were called the principalía, or "principal ones"). Many indigenous members of the church worked for the church as tenant farmers. As well, the Inquisition in Spain became a rule of terror in parts of the New World.For another Augnet page that refers to the hope of the Augustinian Order to involve the help of Phillip to enable the Order to return to England after the death of King Henry VIII, click here.
Persons who do not read Spanish should look at the Spanish web sites as well, as the photography in them is well worth seeing.
Phillip II, King of Spain. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_II_of_Spain El Escorial. A fortress, palace, and monastery (and with one of the best stocked libraries in the world and it), this impressive structure covers a rectangular area of over 30,000 square m. It was built to honour San Lorenzo (Saint Lawrence) after the Spaniards defeated the French on that feast day (10th August 1557). King Philip II charged his scholars to find a suitable place for such a huge building, and they chose a plateau where a poor small village lay. Five years later construction began, and over the next twenty two years the El Escorial was built. Read more in English at: http://cyberspain.com/passion/sanloren.htm
The Escorial. Thirty-seven large photographs, taken by Mary Ann Sullivan in 2002, who generously says, "Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes." Excellent internal and external views. http://www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/spain/madrid/escorial/escorial.html
Seventy-six photos of El Escorial. http://musique09.free.fr/espagne_new2/thumbnails.php?album=25&lang=english
Photo Gallery of El Escorial. Spectacular photographs. http://www.jorgetutor.com/spain/madrid/elescorial1/elescorial.htm and http://www.jorgetutor.com/spain/madrid/elescorial2/elescorial.htm AN4362