The history of Philip the Second is the history of Europe during the latter half of the sixteenth century. It covers the period when the doctrines of the Reformation were agitating the minds of men in so fearful a manner as to shake the very foundations of the Romish hierarchy in the fierce contest which divided Christendom. Philip, both from his personal character, and from his position as sovereign of the most potent monarchy in Europe, was placed at the head of the party which strove to uphold the fortunes of the ancient Church; and thus his policy led him perpetually to interfere in the internal affairs of the other European states,--making it necessary to look for the materials for his history quite as much without the Peninsula as within it.
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