This fascinating book is highly original, in that it specifically analyses how Philip II of Spain ruled the first global empire in history, from 1556 to his death in 1598. Geoffrey Parker investigates the strengths and weaknesses of Philip's strategic vision, the priorities that underlay his policies, the practices and prejudices that influenced his decision-making, and the external factors that affected the achievement of his goals. Geoffrey Parker is Andreas Dorpalen Professor of History at The Ohio State University, and winner of the 2012 Heineken History Prize. Among his other books is 'Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century'. 'A splendid study ... Parker offers an enthralling analysis', Henry Kamen, Times Literary Supplement 'A deeply-researched, sublime and immensely satisfying analysis of the policies of one of the most important figures in western and world history during the past one thousand years.' Paul Kennedy 'This is a history that moves backward from the strategic concerns of today; that gives it an edge and an immediacy few other books on Philip have achieved ... A highly detailed but also immensely readable book.' Anthony Pagden, New York Times Book Review 'Basing his work on the mass of unpublished letters, declarations and notes that the 'prudent king' wrote and received ... Parker leads us with consummate skill through the thorny problems of Philip's reign.' Hugh Thomas, Wall Street Journal '... history on a grand scale. In it, Parker has distilled the fruit of thirty years' research and writing, which have made him the leading authority on Spain's relations with Northern Europe in the early modern era ... A highly sophisticated and stimulating work.' Bruce Taylor, History: Review of New Books.