Philip II from 1543 king of Spain; as Philip I from 1580 king of Portugal
Born in Valladolid (Spain) on 21 May 1527
Died in the palace of El Escorial (Spain) on 13 September 1598
Philip succeeded his father as king of Spain, which at the time also encompassed the Burgundian patrimony, domains in Italy and, as of 1580, also Portugal, together with the colonies of the two Iberian states. The power of Spain came to its peak under his reign: the epoch is thus known as the siglo d’oro, the Golden Age, which lasted until the late seventeenth century. Philip’s cultural interests were devoted to his collections, menageries and gardens; he enlarged the royal residences in Madrid and Aranjuez and commissioned the building of the Escorial. He imposed his religious ambitions at home with a brutal campaign of persecution against heretics, and the struggle for Dutch independence was a direct consequence of his policies. Spain’s conflict with England under his rule led to the historic defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588.