The Grand Strategy of Philip II
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The Grand Strategy of Philip II

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Description

From 1556 until his death in 1598, Philip II of Spain ruled the first global empire in history, yet no one so far has analyzed precisely how he accomplished this feat. The author investigates the strengths and weaknesses of Philip's strategic vision, the priorities that underlay his policies, the practices and prejudices that influenced his decision-making, and the external factors that affected the achievement of his goals. Geoffrey Parker begins by defining the characteristics of Spain's strategic culture: the king's distinctive system of government, the "information overload" that threatened to engulf it, and the various strategic priorities and assumptions used to overcome the disparity between aims and means. He then explores the surviving documentation (from the Habsburgs, their allies, and their adversaries) on the formation of strategy in three crucial case studies: Philip's unsuccessful efforts to maintain his authority in the Netherlands, his defective peacetime management of foreign relations with Scotland and England, and his failed Armada campaign against England. Finally Parker examines the small but fatal flaws in the execution of Philip's Grand Strategy, assesses the response of the king and his ministers to their failures, and questions whether the outcome might have been different with other policy options, another ruler, or a different strategic culture. Pointing to modern parallels between Philip's problems of governance and those facing Hitler and Churchill, or Kennedy and Johnson, this powerfully argued book provides a fascinating commentary on the nature of empires and the decision-making process as practiced by great powers.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 470 pages
  • 156 x 230 x 36mm | 721.21g
  • Yale University Press
  • New Haven, United States
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0300082738
  • 9780300082739
  • 600,064

Review quote

"A deeply-researched, sublime and immensely satisfying analysis of the policies of one of the most important figures in western and world history during the past one thousand years." Paul Kennedy "This is a history that moves backward from the strategic concerns of today; that gives it an edge and an immediacy few other books on Philip have achieved...A highly detailed but also immensely readable book." Anthony Pagden, New York Times Book Review "A splendid study...Parker offers an enthralling analysis." Henry Kamen, Times Literary Supplement "A superb study that is part biography, part military history, and part strategic treatise...No less remarkable than Parker's mastery of voluminous Spanish archives is his use of Philip's rule to illuminate the broader problems of grand strategy, including such supposedly modern phenomena as information overload." Foreign Affairs "The Grand Strategy of Philip II is history on a grand scale. In it, Parker has distilled the fruit of thirty years' research and writing, which have made him the leading authority on Spain's relations with northern Europe in the early modern era...A highly sophisticated and stimulating work." Bruce Taylor, History: Review of New Booksshow more

About Geoffrey Parker

Geoffrey Parker is Andreas Dorpalen Professor of History at The Ohio State University.show more

Review Text

Between 1556 and 1598 Philip II of Spain created the first global empire in history and dominated both the old world and the new. How did he manage it? In this splendid new study one of our finest historians sets out to answer that question by examining the political, military and diplomatic machine created by this remarkable personality. He explores in detail Philip's attempts to subdue the Netherlands, his peacetime negotiations with the English and Scots, and his launching of the Armada against them in 1588. Fortunately he failed in his plan to create a 'universal monarchy' and Parker's fascinating analysis of that failure draws parallels with the ambitions, designs and problems facing world leaders in our own centuries. (Kirkus UK)show more