Two English Queens and Philip
Philip of Spain, the son of the Emperor Charles V, had a twofold mission: "to compass the victory of righteousness upon the earth" and "to exalt Spain to the highest place among the nations." The throne of England — its influence and allegiances — was seen as an essential tool, and to gain it he was prepared to sacrifice anything — marital comfort, his way of life, money (always scarce), and even — surprisingly — his religious principles.
The author focuses on events and personalities in England, from the death of Edward VI, through Mary's struggles to gain and retain her crown, and her violent efforts to restore the Catholic religion; to the reign of Elizabeth, her relations with Mary Queen of Scots before and after Mary became a prisoner and the focus of many plots in England, and the intrigues of the French, especially the Guise family. During this long period, working at a distance through ambassadors whose personal pride and cultural background set them inevitably at odds with the English, the slow-thinking and cautious Philip gradually abandoned his attempts to gain England by marriage and negotiation, and slid into the fatal decision to win it by conquest.
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The Dunnett connection:
Elizabeth, Mary and Philip all play their part in the last two volumes of The Lymond Chronicles: The Ringed Castle and Checkmate.