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Philip II


Philip was not the bloodthirsty tyrant portrayed by his enemies and by later writers. The embodiment of the hard-working civil servant and bureaucrat, he sought to direct the destinies of a world empire from the seclusion of his cabinet, devoting infinite time and pains to the minutest administrative details. He did not trust even his ablest and most loyal servants, and partly as a result his court was riddled with faction. Philip's administration was generally just, but his bureaucratic absolutism, with its disregard for local conditions and privileges, inevitably caused discontent. This was true not only of the Netherlands but also of Aragón, which rose in revolt (1591) over the affair of Antonio Pérez. Isolated from reality, Philip lived and died in his strange court at the Escorial.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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