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Philip had far less experience with foreign affairs during his years of apprenticeship than he did with the domestic administration of Spain; and what experience he did enjoy was invariably under Charles's close Supervision. Philip first left Spain in 1548, to see and be seen in those lands Charles wished to pass on to him, and to participate in determining the future of the imperial succession between the two branches of the House of Austria, Charles's and that of his younger brother Ferdinand. He returned to Spain in 1551. Three summers later, he sailed for England to marry Queen Mary Tudor and become titular king of England, all as part of a grand design by Charles to rescue his own situation and improve the strategic position of Philip's eventual inheritance.

By 1548, Charles had clearly in mind the manner in which he would [24] dispose of his patrimony. Already in 1522 he had given his Austrian inheritance to Ferdinand, who acted as his lieutenant in the Empire during his absences, and who at the time needed lands of his own to be worthy of the hand of Anne of Bohemia and Hungary. Ferdinand's marriage to Anna in 1520 brought unexpected dividends to the Habsburgs (always fortunate in their marriages) when his brother-in-law Louis II, king of Hungary and Bohemia (married to his and Charles's sister Mary), fell fighting the Turks in 152, and Ferdinand was subsequently elected king of both his realms. In combining Austria, Bohemia and those districts of Hungary along the Austrian frontier not occupied by the Turks, Ferdinand acquired the nucleus of a powerful territorial state of his own. Needing Charles's held in resisting the Turks and rivals for his Hungarian crown, he proved his brother's faithful he arranged his election as king of the Romans and, as such, his probable election to the Imperial crown after Charles.

The rest of his patrimony Charles decided to give to Philip.[1] The Catholic Monarchy posed a fairly simple case: all of its components had been assembled by Ferdinand and Isabella through legitimate inheritances of several centuries' continuity, save for Naples and Spanish Navarre, which Ferdinand had sized with more might than right. Both were consented by the king of France, but Spanish Navarre was easily denuded from Castile, upon which Ferdinand made it dependent, and the road to Naples was guarded by the king duchy of Mila, which Charles had acquired in 1535 by escheat as Holy Roman Emperor upon the death of its last Sforza duke. In 1546 he quietly bestowed the duchy upon Philip.

The Netherlands and France-Comte were another mater. While sentiment inclined him towards giving them to Philip, Charles knew that strategically they were far removed from Philip's eventual Spanish and Italian inheritance, and would be difficult to defend against the king of France (who had claims upon them) if Philip did not control Germany.

In 1547 Charles had come as near to controlling that congeries of princely states and proud imperial towns known as the Holy Roman Empire o the German nation as he ever would, when his armies crushed the German Protestant Schmalkaldic League. With a strong hand to arrange Imperial affairs as he wished, he decided to make a place for Philip in the Imperial succession, it not as his own successor instead of Ferdinand, then as Ferdinand's successor. To do this, he not only had to contend with Ferdinand, who became understandably [25] concerned over his own place and the future of his son Maximilian, but with the Germans, Catholic and Protestant alike.

At this point, Charles ordered Philip north to visit the Empire and the Low Countries. Philip left Spain in the autumn of 1548, travelling via Genoa, since 1528 Charles’s ally, and Milan. In the following spring he journeyed across the Alps through the Tyrol, Swabia and Lorraine to the Low Countries. He was received with festivities at every halt, but carried himself with such hauteur and reserve that not only the boisterous Germans, but even the Italians – accustomed to the dignified airs of Renaissance princes – found him cold and disagreeable. He performed poorly in tournaments and did not keep pace with his hosts at table or in drinking bouts, favoured pastimes of the German and Netherlanders nobles. In the Low Counties men found little to like in Charles’s heir, who seemed to conceal behind a mask of dignity no one could be sure what thoughts. In spite of his father’s efforts to induce him to be more agreeable, Philip’s only successes, if the Italian ambassadors are to be believed, were with the ladies.

To ensure that Philip’s inheritance of the Netherlanders and Franche-Comte should not be interfered with by the German Diet or some future emperor, Charles declared that the seventeen provinces of the Netherlanders formed one indivisible patrimony and severed by edict many of the ties which bound them to the Empire.

This deed, coupled with the prospect of Philip’s future election to the Imperial crown, raised fierce opposition in Germany. The elector of Trier said he would have no Spaniard ruling in Germany, and the bishop of Augsburg told the Venetian ambassador that there were many Germans ‘who would rather come to terms with the Turks than elect Philip’.[2] And these were Catholics! The Lutherans were convinced that Charles meant to annihilate their creed, and Philip was his obvious heir to continue the work.

All Germans, Catholic and Protestants alike, feared that Charles and eventually Philip, with rich possessions outside the Empire, could mobilize resources the Germans could neither match nor control, and use to dominate the Empire and overthrow its loose constitutional arrangements. Charles’s victory over the Schmalkaldic League, in which he had used Spanish troops and money, and his subsequent maintenance of Spanish garrisons in Germany, proved their fears well founded.

Apart from these practical considerations, there was the matter of growing German patriotism to which Charles’s repeated employment of Spain mercenaries had given an anti-Spanish dimension. The [26] Germans wanted an emperor who was German. Ferdinand, though born in Spain, had spent his adult life in Germany, and his son Maximilian, keenly aware of German national sentiments, maintained a patriotic party to support his candidacy for the Imperial crown, after his father’s, even while in Spain as regent.

Charles assembled the Habsburg family at Augsburg in the winter of 1550-51, and with his sister Mary, dowager-queen of Hungary, serving as mediatrix, hammered out an acceptable compromise agreement with Ferdinand for Philip’s eventual election as head of the Empire. Ferdinand, as king of the Romans, was to be elected to succeed Charles as emperor; Philip came next, to be followed by Maximilian, thus establishing the principle that the Imperial crown should alternative between the two branches of the Habsburg family. As each in turn put on the crown, he was to seek the election of the next in line as king of the Romans. Ferdinand agreed moreover to give Philip the Imperial vicarate of Italy, which gave Philip a free hand in Milan, still technically a part of the Holy Roman Empire, along with most of the rest of northern Italy.

Philip want very much to be emperor, and before and during the family meeting pressed Charles to ensure a place for himself, and even his son Don Carlos. But when, in 1562, Ferdinand arranged with the connivance of Pope Pius IV Maximilian’s election as king of the Romans, to Philip’s exclusion, Philip made no serious protest. Why? Did he realize that the Germans would not accept him, or did the place in the Empire accorded the Lutherans by the Religious Peace of Augsburg (1555) make ruling the Empire contrary to his conscience as a Catholic king? We do not know; but he did reserve for himself the title ‘Majesty’, which then was supposedly the exclusive right of the Emperor, despite Ferdinand’s and Maximilian’s protests. Proper relations, however, were carefully maintained between the two branches of the family.

The Peace of Augsburg was the result of the utter collapse of Charles’s position in Germany in early 1552, when he was simultaneously attacked by the revived Schmalkaldic League by Moritz, duke of Saxony, his one-time ally, and Henry II, king of France. From Spain Philip sent aid to Charles, who vainly tried to reconquer the three Imperial bishoprics (Metz, Verdun and Toul) from the French king, who had occupied them with the consent of the German Protestants. The Schmalkalders Charles left for Ferdinand to deal with. Ferdinand arrived at the 1555 settlement with them, and Charles acquiesced in it, though he considered it humiliating.

In Charles’s eyes, his loss of power to the Protestants and to the princes [27] of Germany in general isolated the Netherlands, beleaguered by the French, from the rest of his son’s future inheritance. Yet he scarcely had time to consider his next move, when a solution to his problem appeared so suddenly that it seemed providential.

In the summer of 1553, Edward VI England, aged fifteen, died. His legitimate successor was Charles’s Catholic cousin the unmarried Mary Tudor, aged thirty-seven, daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. If Philip married her, then England would be linked to the Catholic Monarchy, and communications by sea from Spain to the Netherlands would be made safe.[3] On Charles’s order Philip quickly broke off negotiations for his second marriage to another Portuguese infanta, while a painting of Philip by Titian was sent to England to sway Mary’s heart.

English opinion was divided over Mary’s marriage, though all agreed she had to take a husband if she meant to rule effectively. The majority wished to see her married to an Englishman, to keep England free of foreign entanglements. An influential minority, however, favoured a foreign prince to keep the crown above domestic faction. Mary’s own preference was for a Catholic, foreign prince, who would best be able to help her in her life’s mission to restore England to the Roman faith. Persuaded by Charles’s diplomats, she chose Philip.

Mary’s councilors, who loyally backed her wishes though they knew them to be unpopular, drew up a marriage treaty with Charles which strictly limited Philip’s authority in England. Only grudgingly and at Mary’s insistence did they concede Philip the title ‘king’. Philip could not appoint foreigners to office in England, nor commit England to a foreign war. Any heir born to Philip and Mary would inherit not only issue – the rest of Philip’s inheritance as well.

For Charles, almost any terms were acceptable to keep England from allying with France (as it had in 1551-53). He wished to restore the traditional alliance, forged in the 1490s, binding England, Spain and the Burgundian Netherlands to assist each other against the French.[4] The alliance, which had led to the marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, had experienced rough days at the time of the divorce, but in 1543 (seven years after Catherine’s death) it had been formally renewed when Henry and Charles pledged themselves to support one another against ‘the French and Turks’ (in 1553, Charles was not only at war with France, but was also being attacked in the Mediterranean by the Turks).

Philip, who took part in the negotiations for his marriage, did [28] not like the prospect and resented the sacrifice of Don Carlos’s right in the Netherlands. Secretly he swore an oath that this concession had been made without his knowledge and that he regarded himself as not bound by it. Charles paid no heed to Philip’s misgivings, but ordered him to sail for England, where he was to emulate the conduct of his great-grandfather Ferdinand in Isabella’s Castile (an example of which the English were hardly ignorant when drawing up the marriage treaty).

Whatever his misgivings, the dutiful son obeyed the father. On Charles’s order, he invested Princess Juana with the regency of Spain, arranged for the education of Don Carlos, and at the beginning of July 1554 embarked for England.

The marriage of Philip and Mary took place at Winchester at the end of July. Prior to the wedding a messenger announced that Charles had given Philip the crown of Naples, thus making him a king in his own right.

That autumn, Philip had his first encounter with the thorny politics of England, which chiefly concerned the restoration of the Church of Rome and the role England should play in Charles’s wars. He sat in on sessions of the royal council, which for his sake were often conducted in Latin, and pored over state papers, translated for his convenience into Latin or Spanish.

But Philip was not a free agent. His father still considered him an apprentice in statecraft, and advised him from Brussels on what courses to follow so that England should best serve his Imperial purposes. Philip heeded his father’s instructions and tried, by diplomacy in the council and, more persuasively, through Mary who adored him, to guide the direction of England policy. Keeping England out of war until the exchequer was refilled proved no difficult matter, especially since Mary’s grand design, which Philip backed, was to arrange a ‘summit conference’ of Catholic rulers to make peace.

Philip had more trouble trying to temper the religious persecution, instigated by Mary and her hot Catholic advisers, which Charles feared might dangerously divide English society. We have no evidence of Philip’s own attitude to persecution in England, a matter which would have been interest in view of his own later persecution of heretics in Spain and the Netherlands.[5]

There seems no doubt that Philip was uncomfortable in English politics, did not love Mary and did not care for the English way of life. Early in 1555 he began to ask Charles to permit him to cross over to the Low Countries, perhaps to take command of an army fighting the French. His desire to leave England was heightened by Mary’s [29] false pregnancy; it seemed as if she would not be able to produce an heir.

At the beginning of summer, Charles ordered Philip to his side, not to command an army, but to prepare to succeed him. The death in April of Queen Joanna at Tordesillas had removed the last possible obstacle to Philip’s succession in the Catholic Monarchy. The Emperor, broken in health if not in hope, had decided to abdicate.

[1] See Fernandez Alvarez, Politica, 127-63.

[2] Quoted from Ferdinand Braudel, La Mediterranee et le monde mediterraneen a l’epoque de Philippe II, 2 vols. (Paris, 1949, 2nd revised ed. 1966) II, 233.

[3] Included in Wansink, ed., Apologie.

[4] For the old alliance see Garrett Mattingly, Renaissance Diplomacy (London, Boston 1955) and R. B. Wernham, Before the Armada; the Emergence of the English Nation 1485 – 1588 (London, New York 1966).

[5] Harbison, 224, 258 – 59.