Spain and the Time of Discovery
The Iberian Peninsula
The Muslim Influence
Ferdinand and Isabella
Philip ruled for 42 years (1556-1598). Under his rule Spain found national unity and consolidated her hold upon the American empire. Philip was an admirer and example of Spanish virtues of personal dignity, sobriety, frugality in daily living, and religious devotion. He had a determination that justice should be done to the poor, a love of music and books, a capacity for unremitting toil. His acceptance of the principle of the divine right of kings was equated with the duty to do everything himself. All decisions, large and small, were made by Philip. There was a huge accumulation of paperwork, and a castle was set aside to house it. He read every dispatch from the remotest part of the kingdom. His officials called him the paper king. His determination to run the government on absolute bureaucratic lines required the construction of a royal palace where the nobility could be supervised. The greater nobility were expected to build houses and live in Madrid, the lesser nobles were to be housed by the people. Elaborate court ceremonies kept nobles busy leaving no time to plot against the king.