Philip II was King of Spain, King of Portugal, King of Naples and Sicily, and jure uxoris King of England and Ireland. He was also Duke of Milan from 1540. From 1555 he was Lord of the Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands.
The son of Emperor Charles V and Isabella of Portugal, Philip inherited his father's Spanish Empire, including territories on every continent then known to Europeans. The Philippines were named in his honor by Ruy López de Villalobos. During his reign, the Spanish kingdoms reached the height of their influence and power, sometimes called the Spanish Golden Age.
Philip led a highly debt-leveraged regime, seeing state defaults in 1557, 1560, 1569, 1575, and 1596. This policy was partly the cause of the declaration of independence that created the Dutch Republic in 1581.
Deeply devout, Philip saw himself as the defender of Catholic Europe against the Ottoman Empire and the Protestant Reformation. In 1584 Philip signed the Treaty of Joinville funding the French Catholic League over the following decade in its civil war against the French Calvinists. In 1588 he sent an armada to invade Protestant England, with the strategic aim of overthrowing Elizabeth I and re-establishing Catholicism there, but his fleet was defeated in a skirmish at Gravelines (northern France) and then destroyed by storms as it circled the British Isles to return to Spain. The following year Philip's naval power was able to recover after the failed invasion of the English Armada into Spain.
Under Philip, an average of about 9,000 soldiers were recruited from Spain each year, rising to as many as 20,000 in crisis years. Between 1567 and 1574, nearly 43,000 men left Spain to fight in Italy and the Low Countries (modern-day Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands).