Elizabeth I: The Golden Age - PHILIP II: KING CONSORT of BRITAIN

PHILIP II: KING CONSORT of BRITAIN (Illustration) Biographies Film Government Social Studies Tragedies and Triumphs Visual Arts World History

King Philip II of Spain had a special Coat of Arms while he was simultaneously King Consort of England. This image depicts that Coat of Arms. Philip was able to use it between 1556-1558, while he was married to Queen Mary I of England. Image online courtesy Heralder, via Wikimedia Commons. License: CC BY-SA 3.0


When Mary Tudor became Queen - following the disastrous end of a nine-day rule by Lady Jane Grey - Elizabeth was nineteen years old. The country was in need of a strong leader, but many people were anxious.

Edward's council had made mistakes, contributing to an unstable economy.  A series of bad harvests helped to force prices higher, and Britain's currency was in trouble. Would Mary, and her advisors, be able to manage their way through difficult times?

After twenty years of Tudor rule, Britain was reasonably stable on the religious front. Would Mary (a Catholic, like her mother) try to make Britain Catholic again? Would she allow religious freedom? Would she persecute Protestants?

Her mother (Catherine of Aragon, youngest daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella) had been humiliated when Henry pushed her aside in favor of Anne Boleyn. Would Mary hold those facts (and her mother's anguish) against her half-sister?

Those who hoped for status-quo, under Mary I,  must have been disappointed when Her Majesty announced whom she would marry. Aged thirty-seven when she became Queen, Mary wanted a child. The person she selected to have it with was Philip of Spain,  heir to the Spanish throne.

A Catholic, Mary's fiance' was the son of her cousin, Charles V.  Even people who shared her religious faith were concerned. It was one thing to marry a Catholic - even a powerful one - but the son of the Holy Roman Emperor?  The issues were troubling:

  • Would Britain merely become an appendage of the House of  Habsburg

  • Would the Spanish Inquisition become part of Britain's life as it had elsewhere

  • Would people be condemned as heretics for practicing their Protestant faith?

  • Would Elizabeth, the Queen's heir and half-sister, be forced to conform to Mary's religious beliefs? 

History proves the peoples' concerns were justified. Mary I became known as "Bloody Mary." Her younger husband became Philip II, King of Spain, at the same time that he was "king consort of England." His position, it is said, allowed him to use some of Britain's gold to fund non-British military objectives.

While Mary viewed her sister as a threat, Philip  advised a reconciliation. Historians believe that had it not been for her brother-in-law, Elizabeth may have died like her mother. At a future date, when they were at odds, Philip would remind Elizabeth of his role in sparing her life.

The Queen, meanwhile, had become very ill. Thinking she was expecting a child, she was devastated to learn she wasn't even pregnant. In 1558, she died without an heir, and Philip (who had essentially deserted her) was no longer King of England.

The crown would next rest on the head of twenty-five-year-old Princess Elizabeth.  It would remain there for many decades.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 01, 2007

Updated Last Revision: Dec 23, 2016

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"PHILIP II: KING CONSORT of BRITAIN" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 01, 2007. Feb 20, 2020.
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