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Imprudent King

A New Life of Philip II
Narrated by: Nigel Patterson
Length: 18 hrs and 36 mins
4.4 out of 5 stars (28 ratings)

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Summary

Philip II is not only the most famous king in Spanish history, but one of the most famous monarchs in English history: the man who married Mary Tudor and later launched the Spanish Armada against her sister Elizabeth I. This compelling biography of the most powerful European monarch of his day begins with his conception (1526) and ends with his ascent to Paradise (1603), two occurrences surprisingly well documented by contemporaries. Eminent historian Geoffrey Parker draws on four decades of research on Philip as well as a recent, extraordinary archival discovery - a trove of 3,000 documents in the vaults of the Hispanic Society of America in New York City, unread since crossing Philip's own desk more than four centuries ago. Many of them change significantly what we know about the king. 

The book examines Philip's long apprenticeship; his three principal interests (work, play, and religion); and the major political, military, and personal challenges he faced during his long reign. Parker offers fresh insights into the causes of Philip's leadership failures: was his empire simply too big to manage, or would a monarch with different talents and temperament have fared better?

©2014 Geoffrey Parker (P)2018 Tantor

Critic reviews

"He is at pains to know Philip through the testimony of his friends, foes, courtiers and his own words and this authoritative, intelligently revisionist biography must stand now as the primary reference." (Iain Finlayson, Times [UK])

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Exceptional biography, grippingly retold.

Parker’s biography of Philip II is one of the best available, managing to bring to life Philip’s complex, rivetingly interesting personality, and to assess with equanimity his accomplishment as a ruler in troubled times. Nigel Patterson’s performance, and particularly his obvious effort to get all the Spanish names and phrases correctly pronounced, is extraordinary.

5 people found this helpful

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Excellent, but not for everyone

I found this to be a comprehensive study of Phillip II of Spain, which managed depth and breadth admirably. The decision to take a more thematic approach to events means that they are not presented in chronological order, with the author skipping sometimes decades ahead or referring back to previous chapters on many occasions. I feel this would be frustrating to any listener who is not already familiar with the life of Phillip II and may struggle to follow the narrative as a result.

3 people found this helpful

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So much more than the catholic king carticature

This is a wonderful work of scholarship which gave me a new perspective on the most famous of Spanish monarchs. Showed the good and the bad of Philip ii both as a ruler and as an individual. This is a scholarly work and deals with the life of the king in academic way but also does a good job remaining listenable. I would recommend this audiobook to anyone interested in learning about this hugely important historical figure and his life and times

1 person found this helpful

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A big story

Geoffrey Parker combines the ability to narrate a fascinating biography of this important ruler along with detailed supporting evidence for his analysis. Well worth sticking with the whole book which is very well narrated and enhances the pleasure of listening.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Missee
  • 18-03-19

Great, but I jumbled

This is a great book, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The only complaint I have is one that I saw in another review, which is that the book does jump around a bit. It takes the different areas in his life and goes through each one in chronological order separate from the other parts. For example, you hear about all of his wives before you hear about most of his political life. It would have been better if it was all knit together in order. That way you could see while one marriage may have been awful, what he was dealing with in his kingdom. How these separate parts may have affected each other is lost by separation. In all, it is very good, if awkwardly ordered. The narration was superb. I definitely recommend this book.

4 people found this helpful

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  • The Louligan
  • 19-04-19

TOO JUMBLED UP TO FOLLOW

Overall this could be a great book. Good characters and an interesting story. But the author jumps back and forth in time, making it difficult for the listener to remain engages. If you stop to do something as simple as check your text messages and miss 60 seconds of the book, when you return you may find yourself in another decade in a different city, not even recognizing the current character. The main events that make this guy relevant to most readers was his brief and crazy marriage to Queen Mary I of England. I was very interested in learning Phil’s reactions to Bloody Mary’s cessation of her monthly period at age 38 shortly after he entered into a political loveless marriage. Any person who lived past 35 years old was considered an elderly senior citizen back then. Old girl somehow confused perimenopause with being pregnant shortly after the wedding but no kid 11 months later. Even today woman of that age are labeled as "mature" for pregnancy. For Mary, it could only have been menopause with gas when she experienced a SECOND phantom pregnancy at 42. I wanted to know what her hubby was thinking as he tried for an heir for 4 years with a cougar he neither loved nor desired. But, either I missed his reaction in the chronological mish-mash or the author left it out. I finally had to give up and try Wikipedia! Still nothing there either. So I never finished the book.

3 people found this helpful

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  • MamaHoneyBadger
  • 09-02-19

Informative but disjointed

I enjoyed the thorough research of this book, but it jumps back and forth so much it's hard to remember it all. It doesn't follow a straight chronology; for example: it tells of his marriage to Mary Tudor, then jumps back to when he was a child, talks of the Armada, then about the Escobedo/Perez scandal, then how he was a loving father, then back to Escobedo/Perez, etc. It would be fine if you had the hard copy to refer back to, but difficult as an audiobook.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Danielle M Brown
  • 08-05-20

King Philip

I like history audiobooks. I always wanted to know about 16th and 17th century monarchs

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  • colin kerr
  • 25-01-20

Excellent history, Super interesting.

Superb history of an incredibly important historical figure. Great performance too. Gives you a great insight into inquisition, Armada, relations with England, Netherlands and HRE, Valuable depiction of his religious beliefs. So much valuable info! Not a bit boring.