Philip II of Spain was born on 21 May 1527 in Valladolid, the first child of the emperor Charles V and his wife Isabella. Charles was present at the birth and when he was given his son to hold for the first time he joyously roared ‘God make a good Christian of you!’.1 It was a proud and challenging dedication, for Charles was the greatest ruler in Christendom and he had already assumed (at least in his own eyes) the status of a crusader, leading the defence of Catholic Christendom against its enemies — against the heretics who were beginning to suborn it within Europe; against the infidels who were launching a terrifying onslaught on land and at sea; against the pagans who in the New World of the Americas were resisting Christianisation; and, most invidious of all, against the king of France, who while boasting the title of ‘The Most Christian King’ cynically allied himself with Protestants and even with infidels in order to oppose the power of the Emperor. It was to the continuance of this multiple task that Charles dedicated his newborn son; Philip’s would be a crusading kingship.
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