Philip II succeeded his father Charles V on the throne of Spain. The vast extent of his domains, the
absoluteness of his authority, and, above all, the enormous wealth that poured into his coffers from the
Spanish conquests in America, made him the most powerful monarch of his time, the central figure of the age.
It was largely because of Philip's personal character that the great religious struggle of the Reformation
entered upon a new phase, became far more sinister, more black and deadly, extended over all Europe, and
bathed the civilized world in blood.