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How successful was the government of King Philip II of Spain?

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Introduction

How successful was the government of King Philip II of Spain? In order for Philip and his government to be defined as successful they would need to conform to the following characteristics: Philip would need to be a strong figurehead, efficiently overseeing all aspects of administration, but having the ability to delegate; communications should be proficient between separate areas of Philip's supervision, and implementation of policy should be smooth and uniform. There should be peace and unity within the regions of the country and a constant maintenance of law and order. There should be no cliques or factionalism within the court nor should there be any preference or bias in terms of personal regional favouritism. Finally there should be a sense of the government as an institution able to withstand change and the reigns of individual monarchs. Philip lived in an age when the idea of "personal monarchy" and the pretence of power, were extremely significant. Therefore Philip's personal role was crucial in the shaping and control of the government. Philip lived in the shadow of his father and took the advice given to him to "depend on no one but yourself" very literally. All work was done on paper, on the basis of consultas (memoranda, reports, and advice presented to him by his ministers). ...read more.

Middle

Towards the end of his reign he began to rely on juntas (specialised committees filled with his most skilled advisors), such as the Junta Grande but Philip's constant lack of trust meant that meant that he refused to succumb to the advise of just one junta and therefore once again succumbed to competing suggestions. Therefore despite the outward appearance of centralisation, the councils were actually an ad hoc system centred around the king, who again refused to delegate or devalue his power. Another aspect affecting Philip's government was his reliance on Spanish ministers and officials, and bias towards other more distant subjects of his empire. These subjects did not contest Philip's right to the throne, but the antipathy towards the Castilian stronghold of his empire meant that there was a definite lack of unity within his kingdom. Philip's predisposition to appoint Spaniards to official posts in the Netherlands, alienated local elites causing further tension and restricting efficient governing. Though Philip was well travelled and had a strong knowledge of the countries in his realm he did have a strong preference for Spaniards and could be narrow-minded when it came to receiving advice from officers of other nationalities, particularly as he grew older. This limited the range and quality of advice he was offered. On one hand the king recognised that a centralised base was needed away from the medieval-style travelling court government. ...read more.

Conclusion

Philip could not assert his authority without using force in those regions which challenged his rule. The revolt proved how jealously fueros were guarded and that these provinces resented a king who had ceased "to be their own". In conclusion, the government of Spain suffered as there was far too much power concentrated in Philip's hands. Unlike England, Spain was subject to separate assemblies: the Cortes in Castile along with the assembly in Navarre and three for each of the three regions of Aragon. The lack of a viable assembly lead to a great deal of power being concentrated in Philip's hands. Authority was administered by local agents appointed by the crown and viceroys carried out instructions of the crown. Philip, a compulsive micromanager, presided over specialized councils for state affairs, finance, war, and the Inquisition. A distrustful sovereign, Philip played royal bureaucrats against each other, leading to a system of imbalance, often damaging state business and the implementation of policy. A large part of this can be attributed to Philip's personal character traits as the pope Pius V said, "Your majesty spends so long considering your undertakings that when the moment to perform then comes the occasion has passed and the money has been spent.". However Spain was still a very medieval society, and the disunity of the country as a whole, due to the independence of the separate kingdoms, no doubt contributed to the deterioration and inefficiency of Philip's government. ?? ?? ?? ?? Katie Taylor 13S September 28th, 05 ...read more.

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