The Machiavellian Struggle Essay

1020 words - 5 pages

The time of the reformation was a time of heavy politics, political wars, and religious attacks and conflicts. This was a period of growth for some countries, such as England, and a time of decline for other countries like Spain. These two particular countries, England and Spain, had two very powerful rulers who helped determine the fate of their nations. Phillip II of Spain was born into a very powerful family of extremely Machiavellian heritage. He had control of the Netherlands, Spain, parts of the North and South Americas, and parts of Asia and Brazil. He was also extremely Catholic and loyal to the Catholic Church. Queen Elizabeth I of England inherited a small country divided between Lutherans and Catholics, but she would turn out to be one of the greatest rulers of England in history. These two rulers would go head to head until their deaths, and while England rose up, Spain began to decline. Although Phillip II of Spain was a very Machiavellian ruler, Elizabeth I of England was much more Machiavellian, for Phillip of Spain was not governed by necessity, as Machiavelli advised; he was feared by his subjects, not loved; and Queen Elizabeth I of England was an effective ruler and near perfect example of the Machiavellian Prince.
Phillip, though a great ruler, did not allow his actions to be governed by necessity, but rather his religious ambitions. Phillip, "His Most Catholic Majesty," was very serious about religion. When the Dutch, within his empire, began to tolerate various forms of protestants, he became furious. In response, Phillip sent the Spanish Inquisition to the Netherlands to help enforce Catholic Beliefs, but it only drove more of the Dutch into the Protestant faiths. The nobles in the Netherlands even asked Phillip to for a break from the onslaught, but Phillip ignored it. Phillip has thus done the opposite of what Machiavelli recommended, that a prince should only take action when necessity and should leave religion out of the picture. With Phillip constantly trying to control the Dutch, they eventually rebelled under William the Silent, Dutch Duke of Orange. Even Elizabeth of England joined the Dutch cause, aiding them when possible. This conflict would eventually develop into a war which would set Spain on the road to decline. This failure to be governed by necessity, along with peoples fear of him without love, leads to the steady decline of Spain.
Though Phillip was feared by those whom he ruled, he wasn't loved by them, which lead to him being hated and his subjects resisting him. When the Dutch first showed signs of resistance, it was because Phillip had sent the Inquisition and, more importantly, tax collectors. Phillip did not offer the Dutch any substantial benefits, so they held no love for him, but Phillip did have heavy taxes which made the fairly independent Dutch increasingly resistant. The Dutch resistance and England giving assistance to the Dutch gave more reason for Phillip to send the...

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