What are the most powerful monarchies in the world

Philip II: the most powerful ruler of his time

Philip's empire extended over the Spanish core areas as well as over the Netherlands and Burgundy. In Italy, Milan, Naples, Sicily and Sardinia were under his rule. Due to the enormous expansion of the colonial areas in America and Asia, Philip's sphere of influence outside of Europe also grew. The archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, which was incorporated into the Spanish colonial empire in 1564/65, was named the Philippines in his honor. In 1580 Portugal and its overseas colonies became part of the Spanish monarchy.

The Spanish claim to hegemony, however, was not without contradiction: Above all, France, which resisted being encircled by Spanish territories, and England, which rose to become a colonial and sea power at the expense of Spain, were Philip's most dangerous opponents. In Central Europe, the Austrian line, which had assumed the role of a junior partner to the powerful relatives, resisted the Spanish dictate. Here the influential Spanish ambassadors and envoys formed the dreaded "extended arm" of Philip. Resistance was even greater in the Holy Roman Empire, where the Protestant imperial princes saw the end of their liberty in a Catholic-Spanish hegemony.

The world power Spain also had to struggle with various internal resistances, based on the heterogeneity of the individual sub-kingdoms with their own political and legal traditions. Large cultural and economic differences made standardization impossible. The central royal power met resistance in Italy, in the Netherlands, but also in the areas of the medieval kingdoms on the Iberian Peninsula itself, which felt patronized by Castile.

Confessional differences were seen as the greatest threat to unified rule at the time. In the northern Netherlands, Protestantism had ousted the Old Church. The Reformation intensified the rejection of the ever tougher Spanish pressure - militarily and economically - on the Dutch striving for independence. In Spain it was believed that the forced converts Moriskos (descendants of Arab origin of the Moors) and Jews recognized internal enemies and reacted with violent persecution.

Philip saw the totalitarian claim to monoconcessionality as the most important basis of his rule. Under him, Spain became the protective power of the Catholic Counter-Reformation, whereby the implementation was very brutal: to this day, the Spanish Inquisition is considered a synonym for intolerance and terror.

Martin Mutschlechner