Page:15 decisive battles of the world (New York).djvu/249

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THE SPANISH ARMADA. 243


their workings are felt, and in that interval the most ambitions schemes of foreign conquest are often successfully undertaken.

Philip had also the advantage of finding himself at the head of a large standing army in a perfect state of discipline and equipment, in an age when, except some few insignificant corps, standing armies were unknown in Christendom. The renown of the Spanish troops was justly high, and the infantry in particular was considered the best in the world. His fleet, also, was far more numerous, and better appointed than that of any other European power; and both his soldiers and his sailors had the confidence in themselves and their commanders which a long career of successful warfare alone can create.

Besides the Spanish crown, Philip succeeded to the kingdom of Naples and Sicily, the duchy of Milan, Franche-Compte, and the Netherlands. In Africa, he possessed Tunis, Oran, the Cape Verde, and the Canary Islands; and in Asia, the Philippine and Sunda Islands, and a part of the Moluccas. Beyond the Atlantic he was lord of the most splendid portions of the New World, which Columbus found "for Castile and Leon." The empires of Peru and Mexico, New Spain, and Chili, with their abundant mines of the precious metals, Hispaniola and Cuba, and many other of the American islands, were provinces of the sovereign of Spain.

Philip had, indeed, experienced the mortification of seeing the inhabitants of the Netherlands revolt against his authority, nor could he succeed in bringing back beneath the Spanish sceptre all the possessions which his father had bequeathed to him. But he had reconquered a large number of the towns and districts that originally took up arms against him. Belgium was brought more thoroughly into implicit obedience to Spain than she had been before her insurrection, and it was only Holland and the six other northern states that still held out against his aims. The contest had also formed a compact and veteran army on Philip's side, which, under his great general, the Prince of Parma, had been trained to act together under all difficulties and all vicissitudes of warfare, and on whose steadiness and loyalty perfect reliance might be placed throughout any enterprise, however difficult and tedious. Alexander Farnese, prince of Parma, captain general of the Spanish armies, and governor of the Spanish possessions in the Netherlands, was beyond all comparison the great-