Involvement in Ruling

The final aspect of Philip’s politically savvy decisions was his strong involvement in the everyday ruling of the kingdom. Throughout his reign, he monitored closely all of his advisors and those who worked underneath of him. John Lynch wrote that Philip II “kept in touch with [officials outside of Spain] almost daily by letter, while his phenomenal memory and the constant reports he demanded of his ambassadors, viceroys, and local officials enabled him to know from his desk, not only political conditions but also the state of every town and diocese.”[1]

Indeed, Philip was an incredible letter-writer, and a number of these letters concerning the matters of state with which Philip dealt on a regular basis have survived. These letters show how deeply involved Philip was with local and national matters, enabling him to be a more politically effective and savvy leader for Spain.


This letter is one that Philip wrote in 1592 to Diego de Orellana de Chavez. In the letter, Philip details the administrative changes being made in the Cuatro Villas regarding local officials and the methods by which they were to be paid after the construction of a number of royal galleons. Philip dealt with these matters personally every day; his in depth knowledge of the events in his kingdom allowed him to be a more involved and aware monarch.

[1] John Lynch, Spain 1516-1598: From Nation State to World Empire (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 1992), 267.

[2] Richard Hacken, Letters of Philip II, King of Spain: 1592-1597, (accessed September 24, 2010).

2 Responses to “Involvement in Ruling”

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  2. Thank you for an interesting blog. Phillip II was an amazing king when you consider he oversaw the empire through his personal correspondence. I believe he was the last to do so. Also, his father Charles V initiated the bureaucratic state (at least the idea of red tape. :)) which helped to allow Phillip II to leverage his influence and remain in control of a fragmented, rather than unitary, empire. A fascinating period to study and one that needs more attention given how much it has shaped the modern world.



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