Ferdinand II

Ferdinand II

Ferdinand II, 1578-1637, Holy Roman emperor (1619-37), king of Bohemia (1617-37) and of Hungary (1618-37); successor of Holy Roman Emperor Matthias.

Grandson of Ferdinand I, son of Archduke Charles of Styria, Ferdinand was educated by the Jesuits and supported the Counter Reformation. He was chosen successor to Matthias and became, before the emperor's death, king of Bohemia and Hungary. His Catholicism, however, alienated the Bohemian nobles, who rebelled (1618) and chose (1619) Frederick V (Frederick the Winter King), elector palatine, as their ruler. This began the Thirty Years War. The Bohemians at first were successful and pressed upon Vienna, but Ferdinand, allied with Maximilian I of Bavaria and the Catholic League, won back Bohemia in 1620 in the battle of the White Mt. War continued in the Palatinate.

In Hungary, Gabriel Bethlen was successful in opposing Ferdinand in 1619 and 1620, but after the defeat of the Bohemians a peace was signed (1621). During the Danish phase (1625-29) of the Thirty Years War, Tilly, commander of the Catholic League, and Wallenstein, head of the imperial army, defeated the Danes, and a favorable peace was made with Denmark. Ferdinand, then at the height of his power, issued (1629) the Edict of Restitution, ordering the restoration of ecclesiastical property secularized after 1552. That further antagonized the Protestant princes, but they did not take up arms. At that time, however, Gustavus II (Gustavus Adolphus) of Sweden, a Protestant, came into the war.

Ferdinand in 1630 had dismissed Wallenstein under pressure from the princes of the empire, who felt the general was becoming too powerful. In 1632, however, after a series of defeats, Wallenstein was restored. He was later suspected of treason and dismissed. In 1634, Wallenstein was assassinated, almost certainly at the instigation of Ferdinand. The battle of Nördlingen marked the resurgence of the imperialists, but the war was wrecking Germany and the house of Hapsburg. The Peace of Prague (1635), the last important act of the irresolute Ferdinand, did not end the fighting. The war reached its unhappy conclusion in the reign of his son, Ferdinand III.

Ferdinand II or Ferdinand the Catholic, 1452-1516, king of Aragón (1479-1516), king of Castile and León (as Ferdinand V, 1474-1504), king of Sicily (1468-1516), and king of Naples (1504-16). His father, John II of Aragón, gave him Sicily during his lifetime and left him Aragón when he died. In 1469, Ferdinand married Isabella I of Castile, and in 1474 they assumed joint rule of Castile. Thus, all of Spain except for the Moorish kingdom of Granada became united. The royal couple, known as the Catholic kings, set out with energetic determination to complete the unification, and Granada fell to them at last in 1492.

In the same year Ferdinand and Isabella took the fateful step of expelling from their kingdoms all Jews who refused to accept Christianity. One of the effects of this measure was to deprive Spain of a valuable cultural and economic community. The expulsion of the Moors (1502) had less impact, for many more Moors than Jews chose to pretend to accept Christianity and remain in Spain. The Catholic kings also instituted the Inquisition in Spain to bolster religious and political unity.

Their reign was crucial in the history of the world as well as that of Spain. In 1492, Christopher Columbus, sailing under their auspices, discovered the New World, and in 1494, by the Treaty of Tordesillas (see Tordesillas, Treaty of), Spain and Portugal divided the non-Christian world between them. Ferdinand personally was more interested in Mediterranean affairs. He began Spain's struggle with France for control of Italy in the Italian Wars. His general Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba conquered Naples in 1504. Ferdinand joined the League of Cambrai (1508) against Venice and the Holy League (1511) against France. In 1512 he annexed most of Navarre, basing his claim on his marriage (1506) to Germaine de Foix.

After Isabella's death (1504) he retained control over Castile as regent for his daughter Joanna. Joanna's husband, Philip I, became king of Castile in 1506 but died the same year. For the rest of his life Ferdinand continued his regency over Castile, first in the name of Joanna, who became insane, and then for his grandson, later Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. When Ferdinand died, he left his grandson a united Spain, as well as Naples, Sicily, Sardinia, and an overseas empire.

During the reign of the Catholic kings the power of the throne grew. The nobles and the Cortes (parliament) were curbed, and the church was used as an instrument of political policy. Many of Ferdinand's policies had long-lasting effects, especially the expulsion of the Jews and the Muslims, many of whom settled in N Africa, the search for American gold, and the conversion of large agricultural areas into grazing lands for the benefit of the wool industry. Spain became an Atlantic power and revolutionized the commerce of Europe.

See W. H. Prescott, History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella (4 vol., 1838; abridged and ed. by C. H. Gardiner, 1963); J. H. Mariéjol, The Spain of Ferdinand and Isabella (1892, tr. 1961); R. B. Merriman, The Rise of the Spanish Empire (Vol. II, The Catholic Kings, 1918); J. H. Elliott, Imperial Spain: 1469-1716 (1963).

Ferdinand II, 1816-85, king consort of Portugal (1837-53). The eldest son of Ferdinand, duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, he married Maria II (Maria da Glória) of Portugal in 1836. After her death (1853), he was regent for his son, Peter V, until the latter's majority (1855). However, he left the actual government to ministers, while he occupied himself with his art collection. In 1862 he was offered and refused the Greek crown, and in 1869 he declined the Spanish crown because the Spanish leader Juan Prim could not guarantee future Portuguese independence.
Ferdinand II, d. 1188, Spanish king of León (1157-88), son and successor of Alfonso VII. He invaded Castile and set up a protectorate during the minority (1158-66) of his nephew Alfonso VIII. He also fought the Moors in Estremadura. His son Alfonso IX succeeded him.
Ferdinand II, 1810-59, king of the Two Sicilies (1830-59), son and successor of Francis I. Although initially he sought to improve the wretched conditions of his kingdom, he soon relapsed into the repressive policies of his predecessors and became an absolute despot. Fear of revolution made him grant a constitution in 1848, but when disorders broke out in Sicily he ordered the bombardment of Messina (1848) and Palermo (1849)—an act that earned him the nickname "King Bomba." He soon revoked the constitution, becoming even more reactionary. Great Britain and France, in protest against his inhuman treatment of at least 15,000 political prisoners, withdrew their envoys (1856). He was opposed by conservatives as well as liberals. The political isolation brought about by Ferdinand facilitated the fall of the dynasty under his son and successor, Francis II.

See H. M. Acton, The Last Bourbons of Naples (1961).

Ferdinand II (1137 in Toledo, Castile – January 22, 1188) was King of León from 1157 to his death. He was the son of King Alfonso VII of Castile and León and of Berenguela, of the House of Barcelona. His father divided his kingdoms upon his death, with Ferdinand receiving León and Galicia, and another son, Sancho, receiving Castile and Toledo.

His reign of thirty years was one of strife marked by no signal success or reverse. He had to contend with his unruly nobles, several of whom he put to death. During the minority of his nephew, Alfonso VIII of Castile, he endeavoured to impose himself on the kingdom as regent. On the west he was in more or less constant strife with the Kingdom of Portugal, which had separated from León in 1139. His relations with the Portuguese House of Burgundy must have suffered by his repudiation of his wife Urraca, daughter of King Afonso I of Portugal. Though he took the King of Portugal prisoner in 1169, he made no political use of his success. He extended his dominions southward in Extremadura at the expense of the Moors.

Ferdinand earned the reputation of a good knight and hard fighter, but did not display political or organising faculty.

By Urraca, married, around 1165, Ferdinand had his son and successor:

Following her repudiation, he formed a relationship with Theresa Fernández de Traba, daughter of count Fernando Pérez de Traba, and in August 1179 he married her, having:

  • Ferdinand (1178-1187), legitimized through his parents' subsequent marriage
  • child, b. and d. 6 February 1180, whose birth led to the death of its mother

He then formed a liaison with Urraca López de Haro, daughter of Lópe Díaz de Haro, who he married in May 1187, having:

  • García (1182-1184)
  • Alfonso, b.1184, legitimized through the subsequent marriage of his parents, died before his father.
  • Sancho (1186-1220), lord of Fines


  • Szabolcs de Vajay, "From Alfonso VIII to Alfonso X" in Studies in Genealogy and Family History in Tribute to Charles Evans on the Occasion of his Eightieth Birthday, 1989, pp. 366-417.


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