I decided to go to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and I chose two paintings, Mary I Queen of England and King Philip IV of Spain, to discuss in the following essay. In July 1553, Mary the first was announced as the first queen regent of England after her father Henry VIII of England, who did not have any sons. Henry VIII of England was known throughout history for initiating the Reformation in England by transforming the country from Catholic into Protestant. He separated the Church of England from papal authority in the Vatican and claimed himself to be the Supreme Head of the Church of England. However, Mary, who was married to Philip II of Spain, disagreed with her father and converted England back to Catholicism. She was known as “Bloody Mary” since she burned lots of Protestants as heretics. On the other hand, Mary’s sister, Elizabeth I, did not agree with Mary for bringing back Catholicism to Britain. In fact, Elizabeth was imprisoned for almost one year on suspicion of supporting Protestants. The marriage between Mary and Philip made Spain a great ally to England which brought England into a military conflict with France, and cost it the area of Calais. The loss of Calais had a huge effect on the English pride and made Mary I very upset. Upon Mary’s death, Elizabeth succeeded in becoming the queen and one of her first actions was to re-establish an English Protestant Church and became the supreme head of the church just like Henry VIII of England.
Philip IV of Spain ruled Spain during the Thirty Years’ of War. He became the king of Spain in 1621. At the beginning of the 1620s, Spain had a good foreign policy in which the war with the Dutch went well and Spain was able to retake the city of Breda from the Dutch. However, by the end of the 1620s, the Spanish army was no longer strong as it had been compared to the Dutch and Swedish military. In the 1630s, Philip IV had huge financial pressure caused from the Thirty Years’ War, as well as the growing war with France. The costs of the war were huge while the funds were limited, and their opponents were becoming more dominant. By the middle of the 17th century, the Swedish Empire was reaching its greatest territorial extent by creating an agricultural (tobacco) and fur trading colony. France was becoming one of the dominant powers in Europe by trading in India and Madagascar, and founding Quebec. Furthermore, in the 17th century, Dutch trade, science, military, and art were among the most advanced and well known in Europe. Philip IV was interested in the navy and he increased the size of his fleets by doubling the size of the naval budget. The huge pressure on Philip IV from the war also made him more religious as a Catholic.