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Evaluate the reasons for Phillip II's unpopularity in the Netherlands.

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Introduction

Evaluate the reasons for Phillip II's unpopularity in The Netherlands. 1 hour. While it is fair to say that Phillip II survived early areas of tensions in his relationship as ruler of the Netherlands, it was only later in his reign that major unpopularity began to surface for the King, in light of social developments in the form of rebellion and the Dutch Revolt. There are a number of different reasons for this increasing unpopularity, including issues of economics, constitutional politics, leadership aspects and religion. While all contribute in some form to the unpopular perception of Phillip from some areas of society in the Netherlands, the most important reason is within the religious issues of the time. After all, Phillip II was not wholly unpopular in loyal Southern provinces of the Netherlands. Unpopularity is, in many ways, a subjective feeling and we must remember that Phillip had large proportions of loyal subjects as he did vast amounts of malcontented subjects. It is a generalisation, but religion seems to be the major dividing line between those who respected the King's decision-making, rule and authority, and those who added to a perceived notion of unpopularity on the part of Phillip, due to his various policies. The divide comes, therefore, generally between Catholic and Protestant subjects respectively. Either way, the fact that Phillip was unpopular with a significant number cannot be debated, and as such we must attempt to evaluate which particular reasons, above all the other contributors, caused this feeling. ...read more.

Middle

This was a shock to the States as they had been used to the relatively turbulent-free reign of Charles V's politics of compromise. An example of Phillip's ideology can be seen in 1557 when powerful Town Nobles in Brussels attempted to impede a subsidy bill enforced by the States-General and influenced by Phillip. Phillip threatened to suspend the Brussels' nobles' privileges, even though this was trigger violent political responses in light of the nobility's belief in the legitimacy of their privileges and need for them to be recognised in order for efficient government to exist. Phillip's measure was, in the end, not put into effect, but is caused the States-General and now Nobles, or at least Northern ones, to question the King's trustworthiness further still. Thus, in the future when Phillip allowed his acting regents to use force to back up a decision in Madrid, many saw it as mere affirmation of a prior political and communicative breakdown between the important groups of King, States-General and Nobility. These are reasons for unpopularity on a political front. However, the original tensions didn't break-up the relationship at all and it is misconception to suggest that relationships between Phillip and the Netherlands were strained and irreconcilable immediately. Nonetheless, undermining privileges borne out of years of socio-political development was not a shrewd tactical move. It created a distrust of Phillip that propaganda, in the long-term, would eventually accentuate. However, if we relate the problem to that of religion - which I consider to be the most important reason for unpopularity - we see less substantiation in this current point. ...read more.

Conclusion

Continuation of force on the part of Phillip to halt these religious issues eventually led to discontent directly with Phillip, and not acting regents and, while Southern Catholic Nobles were against a Calvinist take-over, nobody wanted Spanish troops present, even if these troops were meant to be upholding Catholic rule. Religious oppression sparked discontent, which in turn triggered force in a bid to check the discontent. Yet, the use of force gave protestors grounds for further rebellion, plunging the region into civil disorder and war. When we look to reasons for Phillip II's unpopularity, recognition that he was not unpopular with everyone in the 17 Provinces - many of which remained loyal to Spain - is important. The question should really be about why Phillip was unpopular with those that supported this viewpoint. In this case, nevertheless, we must be clear about the reasons. Phillip's political mismanagement, seen in economic policies, constitutional mocking, and a lack of understanding of the basic complexities of the society, including privileges, rights and powers of the States-General, was a key reason for the unpopularity. Yet, the personal feelings of the people were not articulated publicly until a major faction rose up against Phillip - providing a division between two groups that people could choose between. Therefore, the leadership of William of Orange contributed to the unpopularity of Phillip, if only because it publicised people's anti-Spanish feeling through foreign deals, military invasions and propaganda. As a result of the Dutch Revolt being triggered due to the issues of religion, and the various reasons for unpopularity that the Revolt itself proported, we must clearly define religion as the fundamental reason for the unpopularity of King Phillip II. ...read more.

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