Philip inherited territories in the New World that were even more extensive than those he ruled in the Old, stretching some 8000 kilometres from the northern marchlands of New Spain to the southernmost settlements in Peru. It was a matter of the deepest conviction to him that he held these lands both as a political trust that he had inherited from his father and as a divine grant from God and that, moreover, both his political and religious rights had been validated by papal sanction. Accordingly, he was remarkably clear-sighted in defining his objectives in the New World — to protect and exploit his territories and to convert the Indians to a true understanding of the Catholic faith — and he was ruthless and unyielding in pursuit of them. Indeed, he was so successful that his management of the affairs of ‘the Indies’ is often described as the greatest achievement of his kingship, for he demonstrated an ability to design powerful systems and a sensitive judgement in choosing the men who would implement them for him. He demonstrated, too, that he could do in the Americas what he was incapable of doing nearer home, of giving his subordinates wide powers and entrusting them with their responsibilities over extended periods of time.
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