THE DUTCH REVOLT
1576-1585: Conspicuous State, Spain; Conspicuous Rival, The Netherlands.
DURING THE RANDOMLY SELECTED DECADE from 1576 to 85, Hapsburg Spain was the dominant political power on the European scene, and Philip II, king of Spain, the most powerful of the European rulers. This Hapsburg domination was a continuation, albeit in divided form, of the power established by Charles V, who had not only been king of Spain but the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire as well. Charles came to believe that Hapsburg domains were too extensive for any one man to rule, and had gradually transferred the richest areas to his son Philip, leaving the imperial title to his brother, Ferdinand. By the end of 1556 Philip held the most valuable Hapsburg possessions in the Old and New World, including the various American territories, the Philippines, the Netherlands, Franche Comté, southern Italy, Sicily, and Milan. Ferdinand, who held Austria and Hungary, had been emperor in everything but name since 1552, when Charles had left Germany (although it was not until 3 May 1558 that Charles's abdication became effective).
The extent and wealth of the Spanish possessions made the Spanish ruler a feared rival of almost all the other powers in Europe. The Italian peninsula was almost completely Hispanicized, with only the pope and the Venetians maintaining a precarious independence.
Spanish possessions in the Netherlands (including Luxemburg) and Franche Comté cut deeply into what the French felt to be their