Friday, December 23, 2011

New Book about Philip of Spain

Here is an extremely interesting review about a new biography of Philip II as the consort of Mary I of England. To quote:
There have been several calls for a study of Philip of Spain’s time as King of England over recent years. This is hardly surprising. Present-day scholarship of Mary’s reign is continuously growing, drawing attention to remaining overlooked areas. Interest in queenship, especially during the Tudor period, has increased. Yet examinations of Mary’s status as England’s first crowned queen regnant can only progress so far without a comprehensive study of her consort. Research into the Marian Church is also somewhat affected by the lack of work on Philip. We have come to recognise the influence some within Philip’s retinue exerted. The decision to return to Rome under Mary was certainly not the policy of these men alone, nor were they chiefly responsible for the measures implemented by the queen and her government, but the case of Friar Bartolomé Carranza alone indicates the significant role some played.1 An oversight of a more important figure – Mary’s own husband – is nonsensical. Finally, Philip was England’s first king-consort. Matilda in the twelfth-century and Jane Grey/Dudley in 1553 both were married at the time they made a bid for the throne but neither were crowned and Jane, acknowledged as queen at one point, never conferred upon her husband the title of ‘king’. Philip, on the other hand, married Mary around year after she became queen, was acknowledged as her lawful husband and thus king by all. Yet he was also refused a coronation, faced numerous limitations on his powers and had a complex relationship with his new subjects the English that continued long after Mary’s death. This is interesting stuff and should be examined in its own right.

So Philip Kelsey’s study, Philip of Spain, King of England: The Forgotten Sovereign, should be a welcomed addition to the numerous works already published on Mary’s reign. Anna Whitelock’s review on the dust-jacket promises the book to be ‘a timely attempt to place him [Philip] centre stage’. Sadly I was unable to agree. (Read entire review.)


Aged parent said...

My interest in Philip II prompted my reading of this book as soon as I was able to get an advance copy of the work.

It has its moments, and there is some possibly new information given here about the man (though some of it verges on speculation) but the only biography of this man that is frankly worth reading is the 1937 work by historian William Thomas Walsh, PHILIP II.

Walsh's is the only truly complete look at the man and it is an amazing piece of scholarship, as well as being quite readable. It followed his equally fine book, ISABELLA OF SPAIN. I am not certain whether these two are still in print but they should be widely read.

elena maria vidal said...

I have heard the same about the bio by Walsh. I must read it someday. The bio on Isabella is excellent as well.