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Philip of Spain

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  79 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Philip II of Spain, ruler of the most extensive empire the world had ever known, has been viewed in a harsh and negative light since his death in 1598. Identified with repression, bigotry, and fanaticism by his enemies, he has been judged more by the political events of his reign than by his person. This book, published four hundred years after Philip's death, is the first ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published 1998 by Yale University Press (first published 1997)
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Kamen attempts a revisionist make-over of King Philip II, often regarded as one of the great villains of early modern European history. (c.f. "Don Carlos," the play by Schiller and the opera by Verdi). With great attention to the primary sources of the 16th century, Kamen depicts Philip as a well-educated Renaissance Prince who was a warm and loving family man who cultivated learning and even enjoyed dancing. He was no more intolerant than the normal ruler of his time, and not particularly avid ...more
Though he ruled over Spain at the peak of its "Golden Age" of power and influence, Philip II has long suffered from a negative historical image. Henry Kamen's book seeks to address this by providing a rounded portrait of a conscientious and diligent monarch, one who was surprisingly modern in many respects. Kamen succeeds in describing both the grandeur of Philip's reign and the many challenges he faced as a monarch, from perennially impoverished treasury to the unrest and rebellion in the Nethe ...more
Excellent with details, greatly researched and one of the best biographies I read. I highly recommend this and Geoffrey Parker's Philip II.
Just a word of caution though on Kamen. His style is very different from Parker, whereas Parker in his last edition "The definitive work of Philip II" is laden with much more details than all his previous editions and even more than Kamen; Parker does not tend to excuse Philip from his acts and association regarding the Inquisition and the role he played in i
Not Kamen's best (and I've read parts of his other books). His book lacks important analysis and insight and instead focuses too much on family issues and drama. He portrays phillip as under his father's wing, but never says why or how that's important. More of a summary than a scholarly work in my opinion. Still a rather decent book, but I don't think I will finish it. about 100 pages short.
After my first trip to Spain in December of 2007, I became fascinated with King Philip II of Spain. While in Spain, we visted El Escorial, an unbelievable structure designed by Philip and built during his reign. He is also a character in my favorite Verdi opera, Don Carlo.

I was hoping this biography would give me more information about Philip's personal life, particularly his relationship to his son, Don Carlo and his second wife, Elizabeth of Valois. Regrettably, there was very little informati
Glenn Robinson
Fascinating period and fascinating leader. The king of Spain, The Netherlands, parts of Italy, Germany,France and later Portugal. King Phillip led these countries during the Protestant Reformation, the revolt of The Netherlands, the era of Mary I and Elizabeth I of England and many more significant events. Well researched, well written.
An incredibly readable book! Philip II's travels through Europe as prince-regent (yo el rey principe, he signed himself after his elevation as King of Naples on the eve of his marriage to Mary I of England). Philip the ladies' man. Philip the king, of course. Also interesting on Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I of England. It has been claimed by another biographer that this book is a hagiography; this is definitely not true. It does show though that Philip was human, and a rather average pers ...more
Athena Ninlil
It is an extensive work, before Parker gave us his definitive biography of Philip which unlike the fourth edition is massive, hugely massive. I am talking over 1600 pages; this was one of the biggest works.
However the reason why I give it four stars is because despite all the great information and great work, I found that the author excused Philip in some instances and although I am aware that Kings were not omnipresent in every single act of government, they were not all that ignorant either.
My high school Spanish teacher told us that Philip had el Escorial built so he could attend Mass while reclining in his bed but the author didn't confirm that. Still the book is loaded with details of Philip's life that seem at times the reader is overwhelmed. Kamen finds much more to like about Philip than most historians do. Kamen claims that other biographers and historians have had an English/Dutch bias against the Spanish king.
Nov 24, 2009 Manuel marked it as to-read
So far, it has been good. The book is a nice break from the many Philip II books that focused mainly on his foreign policy. In this work, Kamen shifted away from studying the politics of Philip's reign and analyzed his personal life instead.
Don't read it. I only read it because I had to for a class. The flow of the book was sucky, the characterization of Philip a little over the top and the author just let him off the hook at the end anyway.
Dirk Verhulst
Wonderful, very informative, an eye-opener!
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