A trap of his own making,
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This review is from: Philip of Spain (Paperback)
This certainly is a weighty and worthy tome. As the writer himself asserts, a thoroughly researched and new biography is long overdue of this somewhat dark and evasive historical figure.
In many respects, Philip II is the stuff of easy legends to be created around his self-confessed aloofness and distant character. (He refused to allow any biography to be written, certainly in his lifetime.) There is no doubt that he was cold and harsh as a monarch, but perhaps that was bred into him by the enormous role he and Spain played in one of the most formative times in European history.
Henry Kamen's book is well-written and very readable, however, the author falls into his own trap when, as he writes in the preface that he did not want to write a political biography but one that exposes the 'thoughts, motives and preferences of the man...'. Unfortunately Kamen does get rather bogged down in the politics of Spain in relation to Flanders and other political situations.
Overall, this is a scholarly and highly readable book that makes Philip an accessible man to learn about and help the reader to gain an insight into his reputation for being a harsh, seemingly cruel monarch.