King Philips II of Spain (1527 – 1598) was the ruler of most of South America and Central America, Lord of the Netherlands, successor to the Dukes of Burgundy and to the mightiest nobles of the German Empire, the Habsburgs.
When in 1492 Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile conquered Granada, the last Muslim kingdom in Spain, they treated the conquered Muslims and Jews so badly that even many of those that converted to Christianity left the country.
When in 1580 Philips II conquered Portugal the descendents of those Granada Jews left Portugal. On both occasions Spain through bigotry and intolerance lost populations that everywhere they went contributed greatly to trade, science, philosophy and the arts.
In my previous article about the Netherlands I wrote about the 80 years war between the mostly Northern Protestant Dutch and their ruler Philips II. There were several moments when a peaceful solution of the conflict was possible.
But Philips, who was an intolerant bigot, did not know how to compromise. The religious strife was not the only cause of the war, another important aspect was Philips’ attempt to centralise the government of the Netherlands. But Philips would not budge even an inch, and the rebels won their independence.
He did manage to re-conquer what are now West and East Flanders and most of Brabant, including Antwerp. After the fall of Antwerp and other Flemish and Brabant cities that were in the forefront of business and culture in those days, many of their citizens went north to the young Dutch republic and added to the development of the arts and science and contributed to the Dutch world trade.
Later France revoked the edict of Nantes, which offered religious freedom to the French Protestants or Huguenots. Many Huguenots left France and a good few of them settled in Dutch cities like Amsterdam.
Baruch de Spinoza, the brilliant Dutch Jewish philosopher had his roots in Spain, and was allowed to discuss his original and controversial ideas in the Netherlands. René Descartes, the French philosopher, was neither a Jew nor a Huguenot, but got himself in trouble with the authorities in his country because of his controversial ideas. He settled in the Netherlands.
Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb was often successful in the battle, but lost the peace. His predecessors gave defeated Hindu kings a position in the Empire. Aurangzeb just could not do this because he was an intolerant bigot. As a result he got involved in never ending conflicts which greatly weakened the Empire.
The Dutch republic thrived in the 17th century because of its tolerance and Philip II and Aurangzeb destroyed the might of their empires through their intolerance.